Not too many people would choose a career in acting over a secure government job. But Baby Pradhan didn’t think twice before taking such a decision. In fact, she let go of two such job opportunities to pursue a career in the Odia television and film industry instead.
Hailing from Puri, Baby moved to Cuttack to try her luck in the glamour world. She was pursuing Plus II when she made her debut in the Odia television industry. In a career spanning over 23 years, she has appeared in 18 mega soaps including Kahuthile Saribani, Mathare Bharidia Sindura, Duhita, Panata Kani, Damini, Dasi, Devi, Basundhara, Gayatri, Tulasi, Sangharsham Aiena, Sukha Dukha Ra Sansara, Nei Ja Re Megha Mote, Ama Ghara Lakhmi, Uttaradayee and Jeebana Sathi and films like Samaya Chaka Re Sansara Ratha, Idiot, Jie Jaha Kahu Mora Dho, Badgirl and Pua Bhangidela Suna Sansara.
Baby says, “During my schooldays I was often asked about my goal in life. While my friends aimed to become doctors or engineers, I wanted to do something different. I was good in extracurricular activities and would participate in cultural events. I was good in studies also. That’s the reason my parents were sure that I would easily qualify for a government job. But I wanted to work in the Odia television industry and so I left my hometown at a young age and moved to Silver City.”
She was selected twice for government jobs after doing her Masters in Odia from Utkal University. “After completing my post-graduation, I joined a private college as a lecturer. It was then that I was selected to join RPF and Police department as SI. Then, in an interview for the Indian Railways, the interviewer asked me why I was interested in joining the Railways. My response was, ‘I have cleared the written, so I am here to face the viva voce. I am an artiste and I earn well. I am not really interested in this job. You can offer the job to those who need it’,” says the actor without any regret.
On her first break, Baby says, “I used to do theatre before entering the TV industry thanks to Theatre Olympiad that offers a lot of exposure to budding artistes. Thanks to my co-artistes, I got an opportunity to do a documentary which got me a role in the comedy serial Ama Srimati aired on Doordarshan, Bhubaneswar. Since then, there has been no looking back. However, I shot to fame after doing the mega serial Duhita aired on DD1. My character’s name was Isita. I played the antagonist in the project. Even today, wherever I go, people recognise me as Isita.”
Baby’s journey in the entertainment industry was not easy. There were times when she was selected for a role, the shooting schedule was finalised and costumes were ready, but on the first day of the shoot, she found that she had been replaced by some other actor. “But I enjoyed the struggle also as these tough days gave me opportunities to work with famous director Harish Mohanty and producers Raju Das and Bapu Lenka. During this period, I learnt many things about acting.”
She continues: “Harish Mohanty was Dronacharya for artistes like me. In those days, it was all fun to shoot a serial. We were like a family on the sets. Raju Mishra, the director of Duhita, taught me dialogue delivery and boosted my confidence. Duhita proved to be a milestone for me.”
Baby has got many awards including the Banichitra Award. She attributes her success to her husband Prayas Das and her family members. “It was not easy to pursue a career in acting for a small-town girl like me. It became possible because of the support of my husband and family. When I faced the camera for the first time, I was nervous. They boosted my confidence every time.”
On her role models in acting, she says, “I loved the flawless acting of Mahasweta Ray, Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi. I fell in love with Mahasweta ma’am after watching her performance in Lal Pan Bibi.”
RASHMI REKHA DAS, OP