Pratibha Ray, the prolific Odia woman writer, gets Padmabhushan
BHUBANESWAR: Pratibha Ray, whose name was announced for Padma Bhushan award on Tuesday evening, is among the most prolific women writers in India whose novels and short stories depict the tension of modern life, corruption and degeneration of values in every sphere while questioning the caste and religious discriminations.
The 78-year-old writer, who has earlier won prestigious awards like Jnanpith, Moortidevi and Saptarshi for her literary exploits is among the boldest writers in India whose writings in Odia language bring out her desire for a social order based on equality, love, peace, non-violence and emotional integration. Daughter of a school principal, Ray caught the attention with her first novel Barsha Basanta Baishakha (Rain, spring and summer) in 1974, that was set in a rural ambience.
By mid-eighties she was already established as a leading writer in Odia with novels like Parichaya (An identity – 1978), Punyatoya (The Hallowed River – 1978), Asabari (The rhythm asabari, 1980), Nilatrushna (The Blue Thirst, 1981), Sila Padma (The Stone Lotus, 1983), Uttarmarga (The Salvation Way-1988) and Adibhumi (The Primal Land / The Primitive Land – 1993). She worked first as a headmistress of a tribal school and then as a professor in a college. She churned out 21 novels, 24 short story collections, 10 travelogues, 2 books of thought-provoking essays and an autobiography titled “Amrit Anwesha” (In search of Nectar).
Ray’s novel Shilapadma in 1983 won her the Orissa Sahitya Academy Award, 1985, while Yajnaseni (1984) got her the Moorti Devi Award in 1991 and Sarala Award in 1990.
In 1985, she wrote the book “Adibhoomi” on the primitive Bonda tribes living in Bonda hills of Malkangiri district visiting all the 32 villages where even male researchers did not dare to go. In 1984, her novel Yajnaseni analysed the character of Draupadi in the epic Mahabharat where she showed her to be a modern-day woman with an identity of her own. Yajnaseni was later adapted for stage ballet by noted danseuse and film star Hemamalini.
Her movie “Shilapadma”, is a moving work on the legends associated with the world-famous Sun temple at Konark, while “Uttarmarg”, a novel, was based on suffering of neglected heroes of freedom struggle in her native village.
Although her literary focus is on psycho-social analysis of people, tribes and characters, Pratibha Ray grapples with issues of contemporary relevance, oppressive surroundings, over powering tension of modern life, corruption and degeneration of values in every sphere, a growing hedonism and the alienation of the individual in a complex modern society.