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Cinema To Connect; Not Divide!

Bhubaneswar: Sanlisa Patel, a young woman film producer from Jharsuguda district breaks down at a press conference while announcing that she withdraws her film “Pratha”. Her film was opposed by a section of people in Western region of the state, though she hailed from Jharsuguda. She, in fact, became a victim of the ongoing tussle between some cinema personalities hailing from different regions of the state. Sanlisa directly blamed Manoj Mishra, a prominent actor from western region for the vandalism allegedly by a group of people. Her film posters were torn apart and people were discouraged to see the cinema which she claimed to have made with much sincerity.

What is this? Is it Odisha’s culture? Why are the cinemas opposed and for whose interest? What is happening today across the state over cinema was certainly not in the interest of the Odia film industry. People are fighting over television channels and social media.

A difference between Manoj Mishra and a group of producers and distributors could be the root cause of the dispute. However, the entire industry has been suffering. Allegations, counter allegations are being made and the state run Odisha Flim Development Corporation (OFDC) headed by a ruling BJD leader has utterly failed to resolve the issue. The differences between the actors from western and coastal Odisha are growing by the day. Sanlisa’s film ‘ ‘Pratha” could not see the light of the day. The young producer had invested Rs 2 crore in the film.

Among all the state films, the Odia industry across the country is considered as a gentleman’s association having no such disputes, People here work in tandem and they have produced some great movies. The Odia film industry has seen legends like Sarat Pujari, Sadhu Meher, Parvati Ghosh, Bijay Mohanty, Mihir Das and many more gentlemen and women actors. It has never seen the cinema people fighting over a certain ego problem and not for any cause. The state has witnessed opposition to certain  movies by certain groups, but cinema people opposing cinema, is first of its kind in the state. Thanks to false ego nurtured by certain artists and the business involved in the industry.

In yester years, people have seen the veteran producers like Basant Nayak and now they also come across the producer like Tutu Nayak being dragged to jail over personal behavior. Can Tutu Nayak justify his alleged “bad touch” to a woman journalist? He could dare to touch the cheeks of the woman journalist and hit her back in full public view. The personal behavior of celebrities often affects the entire film industry. Any sector, be it corporate or film, no industry can grow if the women are not respected. It is part of the Indian tradition and culture to respect women at whatever age she may be. However, this is not found in the Odia film industry. The allegations like casting couch also surface bringing bad name to the entire film fraternity.

Interestingly, the dispute between a section of film producers and Odia actor Manoj Mishra has escalated into a significant political row in Odisha. The leaders of the state’s major political parties like Congress, BJP and BJD have joined the issue. The dispute became a hot topic of discussion when the Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra intervened. Without considering his standing in the state politics, Shri Mishra on record said that Odisha would be divided if the actors from western region are neglected and ignored.

Shri Mishra had raised the regional disparity issue several times in the Assembly. But, none had dreamt that such a senior leader will make such a statement over a petty issue concerning the cinema persons. His own party leaders have also condemned Shri Mishra’s statement. This is not all, the BJP MLAs like Nauri Nayak, Mukesh Mahaling have also took a side and fueled the controversy.

However senior BJD leader Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo also entered into the ring and made a statement appealing to all to resolve the issue.

Former BJD MP, Shri Singh Deo appealed film industry to sort out the issue amicably.

Though it may look like a small matter, it could take a big shape if the politicians take sides and fuel the ill feeling among the actors of different regions.

Indian cinema’s unique storytelling techniques, themes, and other aspects have all along contributed significantly to its global appeal and cultural influence. The cinema plays a vital role in shaping the identity and promoting India’s cultural diversity and global aspirations. There is no cinema in the name of Balesori, Cuttcki, Sambalpuri and others. The only name is Odia cinema and Odisha culture.

It is not too late, the government and all other stakeholders now have a big responsibility to resolve the issue and end acrimony among the groups.

The government, particularly, the Department of Industry must intervene and ensure that the Odia cinema gets back its past glory and action needs to be taken on the black moles fueling the issue.

The people engaged in dividing the state in the name of regions should be shown doors from Odisha cinema. The government should also streamline the cinema distribution process which has of late caused problems for the industry. Odisha is one and there is no such regional consideration.