The Odyssey of Odia Cinema: A Transition of Culture and Language

The Odyssey of Odia Cinema: A Transition of Culture and Language

Ashok Palit (Independent Researcher, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3511-0.ch022

Abstract

There was a time in India when education was confined to a privileged class. At that period, Sanskrit was the only language in which most of the epics and other religious texts were written. A majority of the population had no access to these texts. Later, when regional languages and kinds of literature were developed, all these Sanskrit texts were translated for the common people. The immense popularity of The Ramayan influenced Mr. Mohansundar Devgoswami of Puri (actor, director) to make a feature film based on the Ramayan. Based on a mythological theme with elements of Rasa integrated into the structure of the talkie film, Sita Bibaha became the first Odia film, and though its work began in 1934, this film was eventually released in 1936. Keeping all these things in mind, this chapter intends to give a bird's eye view of the unknown legacy and odyssey of Odia cinema.
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Introduction

There was a time in India when education confined to a privileged class. At that period Sanskrit was the only language in which most of the epics and other religious texts written. Majority of the population had no access to these texts. Later, when regional languages and literature developed, all these Sanskrit texts were translated for the ordinary people. They were written in verse for recitation or narration so that a large number of people could listen and understand. In this process, the language received a great impetus under the patronage of the Gajapati Kings of Odisha in 15th century A.D. It is during this period of their reign, The Mahabharata, The Ramayana and The Bhagavata were written in verse on the model of the Sanskrit texts. The immense popularity of The Ramayan influenced Mr Mohansundar Devgoswami of Puri (actor, director) to make a feature film based on The Ramayan. Based on a mythological theme with elements of Rasa integrated into the structure of the talkie film, Sita Bibaha became the first Odia film. Through its work began in 1934, this film got released in 1936 (Chatterjee, 2012).

It is remarkable to note that while in the Country the first talkie film was made in 1931, Late Mohan Goswamy with the spirit of adventure produced this Odia Film in 1936. The production of this first Odia film Sita Bibaha is a landmark in the history not only in the Odia film industry but also in the Indian film industry as this brought into focus the germination of cinema culture in Odisha. In 1936, when Odisha attained its political identity, the first Odia film Sita Bibaha released on April 28th. It based on a drama written by Kamapal Mishra which published in 1899 and this film was a brainchild of Mohan Sundar Dev Goswami. Mohan Sundar with his profound comprehension in 'Rasa Nritya' derived the story from the epic Ramayan; about the marriage of Lord Rama and Sita. That time, Odisha did not have the necessary infrastructural facilities for film production. There was neither studio nor a good director. However, still, Mohan himself wrote the script and with the help of Priyanath Ganguli of Kolkata and finally, Sita Bibaha got released at Laxmi Talkies in Puri on the auspicious day of Madhusudhan Das Jayanti.

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