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Sheep killings to demonetisation: Odisha music industry cashes in on contemporary topics

Odisha music industry is trying to turn its fortune around songs penned on contemporary topics.

india Updated: Jul 01, 2017 17:56 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times
Odisha,Odia music,Sheep killing
The mysterious killing of sheep in an Odisha village have come as a godsent opportunity for the Odia music industry to better its sagging fortunes. (Album cover)

Odia music director Manas Kumar's phone has not stopped ringing since last 3 days. Soon after his music composition "Mendha Marila Kiye"(who killed the sheep)- a funny take on mysterious killing of sheep in Niali block of Cuttack district- hit video sharing site Youtube, it garnered over 8000 hits and Kumar is getting congratulatory calls.

Kumar is however, in a quandary as he does not know who penned the song that pokes fun at those posting fake photos of the mysterious killer on social media sites like Whatsapp and Facebook, but feels happy that he has been credited in the song that has been released by M Series. "I had given the tune 3-4 of my favourite ahead of this year's panchayat polls. I guess one of them may have sung the song. But I am feeling extremely happy as ultimately I have been credited," said Kumar, who is happy that people are finally recognizing his talent 15 years after he started making music.

There is still no clue who is ripping into the lambs in villages of Niali with forest and wildlife officials hot on the chase of the wild animal stated to be a hyena, fox or wolf. With 150 sheep reportedly killed in a span of two months, forest minister Bijoyshree Routray now has given a deadline to the officials to catch the wild animal at the earliest. But the issue has surely come as a godsent opportunity for the Odia music industry to better its sagging fortunes.

Though such music albums have not helped lift the fortunes of the Odia music industry, some say such endeavours are welcome. The music industry did churn out dozens of songs on cyclone and flood soon after a supercyclone ravaged the Odisha coast in October 1999 killing over 10,000 people, but there has been a lull after that. "Odia music and film industry are hardly known to create anything out of contemporary issues. It's only now that we are seeing music and movies being made out of current affairs. If these music albums and movies are able to send a social message then they are welcome," said well-known music director Manmath Mishra.

But others like music director Abhijit Majumdar are quick to dismiss such songs, saying it’s wrong to make business out of people’s misery. “The people in Niali are in a state of panic. We have people from our industry who want to make a quick buck at their expense,” he said.

READ | Odia folk song Rangabati controversy: District magistrate ends song and dance

Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in November last year, Odia music companies brought out songs hailing the move. Bhubaneswar-based digital venture ENews Odia's album “Modi babu tume badhia kala” (Mr Modi, you did great) showing how people faced difficulties while those hoarding unaccounted money scurrying to throw it away in ponds has so far garnered over 3 lakh views. "Though we have not made any money out of it, so far it's one of our best viewed songs," said Jitendra Samal of ENews Odia. There were a couple of other songs on demonetisation like "Chamkei dela Modi Sarkar"(Modi government dazzled) and “Modibabu tume kan kala” (Mr Modi, what did you do).

It's not just music industry, the Odia movie industry which is also facing a bleak future has not shied away from making movies out of contemporary issues. Soon after Odia comedian Papu Pom Pom was arrested in June last year over allegations of casting couch, director Sanjay Nayak came out with "Bhaina kan kala se", that had casting couch and involvement of Odia film stars in chit fund scam as its main theme. “Movies with contemporary issues can become successful if the content is good. Both my recent movies with contemporary issues have become successful,” said Nayak, who in 2015 directed “Rangeela baba”, a movie based on the life of controversial Godman Sarathi baba after his arrest over allegations of sexual misdemeanours.

Noted actor and president of Odisha Cine Artistes' Association Kuna Tripathy, who played the role of Godman Sarathi Baba says it’s a welcome trend. “How long would we make Odia films copied scene by scene from Telugu movies. We have so many issues from which several relevant movies can be made, but no one wants to take risks," said Tripathy.

First Published: Jul 01, 2017 17:56 IST