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Prasanta Patnaik


I used to call him Gopal Mausa, as he was a friend of my father Raghunath Patnaik and uncle Bhagirathi Mohapatra . They were very close and were sharing rooms in "Bimala Mess" during their young days. Though they subsequently joined different professions, their intimacy continued till teir last.  

Gopal mausa loved me more than he loved his only son Devdas ( nick named  Babu ), He used to share many things with me which he did not share with Devdas. When I started editing and publishing " Chandrika" as a monthly magazine devoted to literature, art, film and culture,he volunteered to be associated in a column entitled , "Utaradeuchhnti Gypsy". "Gypsy stood for Gopal Chndra Chhotray" ( G,P,C. ). The column was full of wit and humour and was appreciated by all section of readers. 

His love for me was immense and on all festive occasions he used to offer me the testy food prepared by Mausi even on many occasions without waiting for Devdas to come home and share with me. 

He was extremely happy when he knew that I was allotted with Qrs. No.5RF/5, in Unit-3, which was earlier allotted to Devdas. He suggested me to keep the windows of the mater bedroom open as he was living in that room and was watching at the rose and enjoying its beauty to hearts content. He had written a beautiful story "Sei Phulati" describing his love and deep relationship with that flower.  

When Devdas and his I.A.S. wife Veena were transferred from Bhubaneswar, Mausa shifted to stay in Sahed Nagar witth his only daughter as he was not in a position to shift to Bihar to live with Devdas. However , on many occasions, Mausa used to come down to my house to see that particular rose bush with flowers through the open window. He used to enjoy several cups of tea prepared by my wife Chndraprava, while sharing with my father also discussing about memories of their young and struggling days. 

Gopal Chhotray (1916–2003) was born in Puranagarh village of Jagatsinghpur district in OdishaIndia. 

He is considered to be one of the chief architects of modern Oriya theatre. He brought in significant changes in the morphology of Oriya plays, both in theme and structure. He rescued them from the hold of opera and melodrama, and the overbearing influence of neighbouring Bengal. 

Gopal Chhotray dominated the Oriya professional theatre for more than three decades. Beginning with Pheria (Come Back) in 1946, he wrote more than 15 original stage plays and 8 adaptations of eminent Oriya novels, most of which were runaway success in professional stage. There were days, when both the professional theaters of Cuttack, holding daily shows, used to stage his plays concurrently. 

Apart from adapting works of eminent Odia novelists like Upendra Kishore Das (Mala Janha), Basanta Kumari Pattnaik (Amadabata), Kanhu Charana Mohanty (Jhanja) and former Chief Minister of Odisha Dr. Harekrushna Mahtab (Pratibha), he also adapted Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's ‘Ramer Sumati’, Henrik Ibsen’s 'Enemy of the People', A A Milne's 'Man in the Bowler Hat', Henry Fielding's 'Mock Doctor', and the English thriller 'The Evil That Men Do'. 

Gopal Chhotray was associated with All India Radio (AIR), Cuttack since its inception in 1948. After years of writing as a freelancer, he joined AIR, Cuttack as an in-house script writer in 1956 and worked till 1975. 

He wrote more than half a thousand radio plays, including musicals and features, and made listening to his works a household habit. His monthly serial 'Purapuri Paribarika'(Entirely A Family Matter), which ran uninterrupted for three years, was perhaps the earliest chain-play the AIR produced. 

While in Radio, Gopal Chhotray made a unique contribution to the Odia musical tradition by reviving rural opera, which had gone out of fashion, and was frowned by the city bred and puritans. He brought both popularity and respectability for this genre by adapting them for broadcast by the AIR in 1960. He restored Baisnab Pani, the doyen of Odia Jatra, to his legitimacy and started an upsurge in musical plays by building up a large repertoire, consisting of his own originals and adaptations. 

He has nearly twenty LP records and cassettes of his own work including the all-time best 'Srimati Samarjani' which he produced for the radio with Akshaya Mohanty, based on Fakir Mohan Senapati's short story 'Patent Medicine'. It continues to be a listening rage even after 40 years. 

He was also pivotal in designing the dramatic contents of the Odisha Doordarshan when TV came to the State. He nurtured its foundation at Cuttack and continued to sustain it after it shifted to Bhubaneswar. He scripted nearly a hundred plays and features for the State TV, including serials and a memorable mythological called 'Devi Durga'. 

He started his career as an amateur stage artist in Bharati Theatres in Cuttack, but soon became the foremost playwright and film script writer for the Odia stage and films respectively. After 'Pheria', his early plays in the 50s, such as 'Bharasa' and 'Para Kalam', were recognized as unique creations. His instant recognition for film script writing came with the production of the mega mythological 'Sri Jagannath' in 1950. In the next thirty five years, he wrote screenplays and dialogues for a number of 'middle of the road' cinemas, combining class and box office hits. 'Amadabata', 'Kie Kahara', 'Matira Manisha' and 'Badhu Nirupama' had received high critical acclaim for his dialogues and treatment. 

When professional theatre withered away in Odisha and the State radio lost out its monopoly to private broadcasting and TV channels of doubtful quality, Gopal Chhotray, devoted himself to writing of short stories to respond to his creative urge. He published two volumes of his work, comprising about thirty stories, which were actually embryonic of the plays and films he wanted to write but could not. 

Apart from several State awards like Sarala Samman, Bisuva Samman and Governor's Plaque of Honour (1991), he received the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi Award in 1982 and Kendriya Sangeet Natak Academi Award in 1987. 

Gopal Chhotray spent his entire life in Cuttack. 2016 was celebrated as the centenary year of his birth.



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2018-04-26 05:14