Eminent actor and theatre-director Prabodh Rath of Kalahandi have been appointed as the new secretary of Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi (OSNA). He also has his own theatre group Smaraki. In an interaction with Chaitali Shome of Orissa POST the thespian discussed theatre professionals, development of Odia theatre and much more
What new initiatives are in the offing to make Sangeet Natak Akademi more functional?
Well, new initiatives will be taken to attach more importance to lokakala and lokanrutya. Steps would also be taken to help artistes from the grassroots. As the secretary of the OSNA it’s my job to make sure that artistes from all over Odisha are benefitted. Moreover, OSNA is trying its best further improve its work through various mediums and help artistes live a better life both artistically and financially.
All for the betterment of artistes’ lives are restricted to paper and in political speech at rallies. What is your take on that?
I completely disagree with this statement. Our Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, has started various schemes where many artistes have already been given pensions and many of them have been helped by the state government and the Sangeet Natak Akademi during their bad days.
Nowadays, famous plays in other languages are being translated and showcased. Also, there is a lack of encouragement for young playwrights from the government as well as the Sangeet Natak Akademi. What is your take on that?
I agree that young playwrights are not getting enough benefits. In current scenario is not possible to attract young talents due to lack of finances. The financial package is not very alluring to them. However, the Department of Culture has been organising the ‘Natyadhara’ programme where playwrights and actors from various corners of Odisha showcase their talent and earn appreciation. There are various theatre festivals that are organised in different districts of Odisha Sambalpur, Bargarh, Baripada, Bhadrak and many other places. Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi also organizes the national theatre festival to try and allure threatre professionals of the next generation.
Why is Odisha falling to make a mark at national-level of drama competition?
Previously, there use to be 4 or 5 applications from Odisha to participate in this drama competition. Now, the applications have increased up to 60 which is indeed laudable. Nowadays, plays of Nalin Nihar Nayak, Srimannarayan Mishra, Kailash Panigrahi, Abhina Routray, Subash Pradhan, Alok Agnibesh and many others are slowly making its mark in the national drama competition. Odisha’s theatre professionals are putting in efforts to make a mark at the national level. The process is slow but not without results.
Why there is a dearth of playwrights in Odisha?
In the past there were timeless playwrights like Manoj Ranjan Das, Gopal Chhotray, Kartik Rath, Bijay Mishra and Prafulla Rath who brought laurels for the state and made Odia theatre proud. Nowadays, the writers lack the kind of depth these playwrights had. In the future OSNA will be more careful and will organise various orientation programmes to find and train great playwrights.