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Jatra, Odisha’s most popular folk entertainment medium, to shut down due to financial crisis

Jatra shows, a popular medium of art and entertainment in Odisha’s countryside, have been difficult to run.

art and culture Updated: Jan 18, 2018 13:11 IST
Jatra,Odisha,Jatra info
In Odisha, Jatras became professional in mid-1980s, when there was infusion of cash. (Photo: Chandra Sekhar Sahoo)

The story of Jatras, the popular travelling folk entertainment operas in Odisha, may well be over from July this year with the opera owners deciding to stop organising shows due to a financial crisis.

Jatra shows, a popular medium of art and entertainment in Odisha’s countryside, have been difficult to run, said Odisha Jatra Troupe Association president Soumya Ranjan Patnaik. “Though we have been trying to revive Jatra entertainment, the situation has become worse in the last 5 years as we are not able to organise shows for 300 days in a year,” said Patnaik.

“It is impossible to organise jatra shows as there is loss incurred by the troupes. The Jatras are facing restrictions imposed by government, the families of the artists are facing huge financial crisis and the costs of expenditure are more than the income made by the Jatra troupes.”

He said that huge expenditure is incurred in lights, sound and preparation of gates. But the income generated is very minimal compared to the costs as the ticket rates cannot be hiked.

Odisha agriculture minister and owner of Kalinga Gananatya, Pradeep Maharathy, said circumstances have compelled them to shut down Jatra troupes. “The administrative restrictions as well as natural calamities are posing to be stumbling blocks in our progress,” said Maharathy.

Odisha’s jatra troupes comprising 100-150 members on an average each -- including actors, directors, dancers, sound and costume assistants, lightmen, cooks, technicians and labourers -- spend more than 300 days a year travelling. They perform from place to place, covering 80-100 km a week and sometimes up to 300-400 km between shows. They are bigger draws in villages during festivals.

The decision to stop Jatras is likely to affect nearly 30,000 people including 5,000 artistes who are directly engaged in the Jatra industry in Odisha. “We have already informed our artistes to start looking for alternatives,” said Patnaik.

In Odisha, Jatras became professional in mid-1980s, when there was infusion of cash. Of late several actors and actresses of Odia film industry, including Ushashi Mishra, were among the few who switched to the folk medium due to high pay.

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First Published: Jan 18, 2018 12:59 IST