Posts filed under ‘Kosli language and literature’
Following is a report from the Samaja:
BHUBANESWAR: After screening of Odia film ‘Aadim Vichar’ (The Ancient Justice) at the Indian Panorama Category of International Film Festival of India (IFFI-2014) on Tuesday, audience and journalists asked Atal Bihari Panda, protagonist of the film, about his age. Panda, who is attending the IFFI for the second time in a row, gleefully replied, “It is just a number”. The 84-year-old actor, who portrayed the role of ‘Kondh Budha’ (an elderly man of Kondh tribal community) in the film, was appreciated by one and all at the biggest film festival that celebrates Indian cinema.
‘Aadim Vichar’, directed by Sabyasachi Mohapatra, is the octogenarian actor’s second film, the first being ‘Sala Budha’ (The Stupid Oldman) that got the Best State Film Award – Mohan Sundar Dev Goswami Award – for 2013.
Even at this age, Panda’s exuberance was visible at last week’s State Film Awards where Panda danced on a Sambalpuri folk song to a houseful audience at the Utkal Mandap. He also bagged the Best Actor Award for playing the role of ‘Sala Budha’. “I do not let my age shadow my acting skills,” says the Sonepur-based actor. ‘Aadim Vichar’ is a sequel to Mohapatra’s ‘Sala Budha’, a Sambalpuri movie, that dealt with the plight of elderly people in villages of Western Odisha. ‘Aadim Vichar’ portrays the societal structure of Kondh community in Kandhamal. After IFFI, the film will be screened at three more national level film fests.
Panda who was a stage actor and script writer by profession, had never thought of acting in any Odia films. “I got into Sala Budha by chance. Sabyasachi Mohapatra during his youth had done a small role in one of my plays ‘Phata Mardala’, where I played the lead character. Besides, his father Kapileswar Mohapatra and I were classmates. Two years back, Sabyasachi approached me with an idea of converting some of the short stories that Kapileswar authored into a film script,” he recalls. Although the script was ready, Sabyasachi could not find any senior actor in Ollywood to play the lead role of ‘Sala Budha’. “After nearly three months, he came to me again and urged me to be the protagonist of the film. Though I was reluctant initially because of my age and lack of experience in films, Sabyasachi convinced me. I was 82 when shooting for the film started, but today I am extremely thankful to my director for giving me this opportunity. He has taught me how to face the camera,” he says. Prior to ‘Sala Budha’, he had done a 45-minute tele-film ‘Dangar Tale Dambaru Baba’ on tribal communities in Odisha for Doordarshan.
‘Aadim Vichar’, Panda says, is the most difficult role he has played so far. He has written the script, based on Kapileswar’s stories, for this film as well. “Aadim Vichar is a longer film compared to Sala Budha and was shot in the hilly terrains of Kandhamal during winter. Since, it is a much more intense movie compared to ‘Sala Budha’, a lot of research and practice went into it,” says Panda, who has acted in over 100 plays apart from writing 63 dramas and six operas, both in Odia and Koshali language.
Both Sabyasachi and Panda are making three more films based on the tribal culture of Odisha and they would begin shooting for their third venture next year. Given a choice, Panda says, he would chose art films over commercial cinema any day. “I want to die a death like Balai Banerjee did. A popular stage actor of Janata Rangamanch of Cuttack, he died while acting on the stage. I too want to breathe my last on the stage,” Panda smiles.
STATEHOOD DEMAND FOR ECONOMIC ISSUES & NOT JUST EIGHTH SCHEDULE
The government of India declared Odia as the sixth classical language of the country on February 20, 2014. On that day, Odias across the state found an occasion to rejoice. Linguist Debiprasanna Pattanayak had explained the classical characteristics of Odia before the language experts of our country on July 23, 2013, which led to the decision.
On March 1, chief minister Naveen Patnaik wrote a letter to the Union home ministry recommending Sambalpuri/Koshali and Ho languages to be included in the Eighth Schedule of our Constitution. It was perhaps the first step that the people of west Odisha wanted for their mother tongue to achieve.
But ever since, reputed linguists seem to have fears that if a language goes to the Eighth Schedule, it might give the people speaking it reasons for a statehood demand. Some gave the example of Konkani language leading to formation of Goa. They are afraid that the state of Koshal might come to existence if Sambalpuri/Koshali goes to the Eighth Schedule. But, what about Ho? Are we going to deprive the right of a people, the rightful place of its mother tongue? What languages were fillips in the formation of the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Telangana? We know that economic issues are more important than language and culture for formation of states. Therefore, linguists must not invite disrespect from the people by opposing the rightful place of its mother tongue.
When George Abraham Grierson started his Linguistic Survey of India in 1894, the people of west Odisha had been speaking Sambalpuri/Koshali. They understood the Odia Bhagabat better than Hindi (Awadhi) Ramcharit Manas. Therefore, when the chief commissioner of Central Provinces, in his order dated January 15th, 1895, abolished Odia as the court language of Sambalpur and introduced Hindi in its place, people had to fight against that.
“The language agitation started in Sambalpur and became widespread in Orissa. Oriya was restored as the official language of Sambalpur in 1903 and subsequently in October, 1905, the bulk of the district was transferred to Orissa,” reported the writers of Orissa District Gazetteers, Sambalpur, in 1971.
All India Radio, Sambalpur, started working in 1963. By then, known writers of Samalpuri/Koshali were Kapil Mahapatra, Balaji Meher, Laxmana Pati, Khageswar Seth, Shashi Bhusan Mishrasharma, Motilal Panda, Satyanarayan Bohidar and Bidhu Bhusan Guru. The Renaissance of Samalpuri/Koshali language and literature began in 1984. We got Rangabati (song) of Mitrabhanu Gountia, Sasemira (drama) of Prasanna Sahu, Bhukha (drama/film) of Manglu Biswal and Ukhi (drama) of Binod Pasayat.
We got hundreds of songs and lyrical plays from AlR, Sambalpur. West Odisha experienced something wonderful and encouraging in Haldhar Nag. From 1990, he has been carrying with him Sambalpuri/Koshali poems to national centres of education and culture throughout the country. Sasemira was awarded the first prize in National Drama Festival, Allahabad in 1983.
Since then, Sambalpuri/ Koshali plays have been successfully presented at various cultural centres across the country. The Sambalpuri/Koshali Drama Competition, held in Sambalpur every winter, has been presenting plays of good quality for the last 17 years. Among the new generation of Sambalpuri/Koshali playwrights, Panchanan Mishra, Brajendra Nayak, Kesaranjan Pradhan, Ashok Bohidar, Nakula Badi and Arun Sahu are some of the well-known successful playwrights.
At present, we find epics of the Ramayan, the Mahabharat and the Bhagabat, recreated by devoted poets such as Ujalbati, Nilmadhab Panigrahi, Hemachandra Acharya and Purnachandra Sahu. We find books on stories, novels, grammar and dictionary and almost all kinds of literature in Sambalpuri/Koshali. Some 30 magazines have been enlisted in the language.
Why is this enumeration here? Questions have been raised if the state government would consider the demands when forwarded a proposal to include the Berhampuri dialect in the Eighth Schedule or if the people of Balasore or Baripada demand separate language group status in future.
Well, why not? If those spoken forms in course of time acquire the characteristics of a natural language as we find today with Sambalpuri/Koshali, we should be happy with that if it happens.
Linguist Debi Prasanna Pattanayak had said: “Issues over relationships between the languages and dialects always have problems and it is a pan-world phenomenon.” But then, can a linguist decide between language and dialect? At best, linguists study them and give a theory. The decision will be taken by the people and their government.
John Lyons writes: “The distinction between language and dialect is commonly drawn on political grounds. There is less difference between Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, for example, which are usually referred to as distinct ‘languages’, than there is between many of the so-called ‘dialects’ of Chinese.”
Therefore, the steps taken by the state government for the rightful demand of the people of west Odisha for their mother tongue do not show “immature political statesmanship and vision”. They reflect the wisdom and maturity of a good government. Languages acquiring dialects and dialects becoming languages go together. Till there are Hindi films, the language will go on prospering, acquiring strength from all the languages of the globe.
If linguists believe, as some have expressed, that the people of Balangir are not supporting the idea, they may contact Kosali Ekata Manch of Sonepur and Kosal Kranti Dal of Balangir to get disillusioned.
Gangadhar sang: “If you want to be respected /Have utmost respect for your mother tongue.” Though this couplet generating self-respect was sung for Odia while she was in danger, it is applicable to every language and its speakers. Therefore, the newspaper advertisement of the state government respecting a mother tongue should not be assumed as “dangerous”.
In 1895, people had hesitation to proclaim Sambalpuri as their mother tongue, whereas in 1995, they shouted with joy that Sambalpuri/Koshali is their beloved mother tongue. The language had already acquired the excellence and the power of expression for which one will be proud of using that. As a resident of Odisha, everyone should rejoice to find the achievements of Sambalpuri/Koshali.