Bits 'N' Pieces: Mahapatra's introspective film

Written by Pradip Biswas | Kolkata, Oct 17 | Updated: Oct 18 2007, 07:53am hrs
Manmohan Mahapatra is a metaphor for good Oriya cinema. He is the symbolic image of 'humanist cinema.' He has survived the 'ravages of consumerism' devouring Oriya cinema for the last three decades. Oriya cinema seldom sparkles owing to a lack of official support from the cultural department of the Orissa Film Development Corp (OFDC). But despite a fund crunch and lack of a popular support base among cine viewers, Manmohan Mahapatra, the lone

fighter of 'other cinema,' has not lost hope. Incidentally, he has won many national and international awards for his works.

He told FE : "It's not easy to survive and sustain the odds and wrath of cannibal times, nearly stifling our existence and journey. You know, the overall Oriya film scenario is as bad as other regional cinema of the country since the money-backers and traditional producers/distributors have nearly vanished like black swans."

"We are in a state of financial uncertainty, yet we have not lost our vision, a vision leading us to a fresh dawn of revival of Oriya cinema."

Manmohan Mahapatra's path-breaking film is Seeta Raati (1982). His major films are Neeraba Jhad, Klanta Aparanha, Majhi Pahacha, Kichi Smruti Kichi Anubhuti, Andha Digant, Muhurta. He, like Satyajit Ray, believes in plot and narrative, and his films always tell a tale.

His films made on urban themes such as Seeta Raati, Majhi Pahacha , Vinna Samay and Muhurta seem to be critical of the 'urban pollution' of the lives of characters travelling to the city only to get lost in its labyrinth and corruption. Said he: "My urban films have sharp edges and they are shown in their grimy situations, corrupt, dishonest and inhuman, facing a down-slope to the dark niches."

Greed, consumerism, insularity, selfishness, deception et al find his characters entangled in a trap they cannot escape.

His new film, in Hindi, Bits 'N' Pieces , is ready for distribution. Here he once again tackles an urban theme, keeping his dilemmatic characters on the razor's edge. Here the protagonist is a renowned writer, who, in quest of a new theme, confronts a lady in a mental asylum. While studying the character and interacting with her, the writer discovers many dialectical questions that bother him a lot. In his reflection comes back her past and his relationship with a girl, long lost. The lady in the asylum stirs up deep ripples, goading him to react with a moral code and self-introspection. The film has three women characters and they play three-dimensional roles. The director slates authors who sell marginal people's poverty, squalor and pity to make money.

Dia Mirza, the female protagonist of the film, says: "Films in general should convey certain concerns that human beings confront in everyday life.

I love playing characters that look positive and meaningful. Characters having substance to counter psychological or social turmoil inspire me a lot."