Tihidi: Pala, a unique form of balladry that combines elements of theatre, classical Odissi music, wit and humour, is gradually losing its popularity due to outdated presentation style and lack of quality, said professional Pala artiste Ganesh Das.
Das, a resident of Satiuti village under Sindol panchayat of this block in Bhadrak district, has been in the profession for over 40 years and holds the record of presenting Pala for 42 nights in a row.
The astute performer had entered the profession while he was studying in Class XI. He received many accolades after his performance in the village and at a school programme. This inspired him to make his career in Pala.
He is not ready to accept that Pala culture is losing its popularity. “I am still a sought after artiste across the state. However, in some pockets people do not show interest due to the outdated style of presentation and degradation in quality,” Das said.
He mastered the skill from his Guru, Paramananda Sharan while he learnt playing the table from Haribandhu Sahoo. Apart from Pala, he also acquired knowledge by studying ancient scriptures. This helped him become an established artiste. As he was different from his contemporaries, Ganesh started getting invitations to perform at every nook and corner of the state at his prime.
Recounting his memorable days, Ganesh said he performed pala for 42 nights at a stretch during the consecration ceremony of Jagannath Temple at Sundargarh. There is a handful of Pala singers in the state who are highly sought after and Ganesh is one of them.
He was felicitated in several districts for holding the interest of the audience till end with élan, said his wife. He solely depends upon this profession to maintain his family of eight including four daughters and two sons, Ganesh said.
There is a need to pick up present-day subjects and improve quality of presentation to draw the audience, he added.