Padmapur: This season in the past years, being an opera artiste she would always be at rehearsal camps. This time around, she is selling tea from a roadside kiosk, erected with bamboo poles with a polythene sheet stretched over it.
The artiste in question is Runu Mohapatra, a resident of Baikunthapur village of Brahmanigaon panchayat under Basudevpur block in Bhadark district. She says it is the COVID-19 pandemic that has turned her to be a tea seller.
After coming to know about Runu, our correspondent visited her at her tea stall. She was giving the tea a nice stir in a pot. When asked on what prompted her to be a roadside tea seller, she retorted back the much heard reply “It is COVID-19 that has pushed actors, actresses and folk art performers to the brink,” she replied.
Runu said she started her career as an opera artiste with ‘Triranga Gananatya’. Later she joined ‘Konark Gananatya’ in 2002 and has still been associated with the troop. Over the years, she has performed a spectrum of roles starting from a dancer to a comedian.
“Konark Gananatya’s Badnam Heli Tori Pain, Kaincha Mali, Brahma Chandala, Akhi Abujhaku Luha Abujha and Dukha Deigala Daradi Bandhu are some of the plays that gave me great satisfaction. After every stage show we are eager to know audience’s reviews. And their reviews about my roles in the said plays were tremendous,”she asserted.
She and her husband Litu Mohapatra, who works as a manager for artistes, had to return to their village as staging of opera shows were not allowed following the outbreak of coronavirus and subsequent restrictions.
Back at home, her family comprises of a differently abled father Nishikant Rout, a sick mother Tapati and their daughter.
“While we are somehow able to meet the daily family expenses, the medicine cost of my parents keeps ailing me. We are earning Rs 200 to 300 per day from selling tea and snacks. I hope soon everything will become normal and we will again entertain people,” she said while attending some customers.
There was a time when people used to buy tickets spending hundreds and line up in long queues to watch their favourite opera artistes perform on stage. Now these artistes and technicians are jobless and are passing through a tough time. But for government financial help, their lives would only be more difficult,” she wound up.