Friday Review

Surya Deo, custodian of Odia cinema

Surya Deo's archives

Surya Deo's archives  

He has worked single handed, to document and highlight the beauty and history of 80 years of Odia cinema.

He has done individually what the Government and the film industry have failed to do to preserve the legacy of the 80-year-old Odia film scene. He is Surya Deo, a journalist who is better known as an amazing archivist of Odia films – himself an encyclopaedia on Odia cinema.

His two decades of silent but committed documentation on Odia cinema has reaped rich dividends and come to public notice in recent years through the various unique activities of the Film Journalists’ Forum (FJF) of Odisha that he founded just five years ago. Smruti-Chhaya, the series of screening of Odia film classics in Bhubaneswar, continues to be the most exciting and most awaited affair for film lovers. Deo and his colleagues at FJF manage to invite personalities associated with the making of the movie that they screen and honour them, a gesture that has warmed thousands of hearts. A booklet containing lesser-known but immensely interesting facts about the film also gets released on the occasion. The event has been so popular that people reach the auditorium more than an hour ahead of the screening just to reserve their seats! FJF has proved how the old Odia movies of the black-and-white era could be crowd-pullers; Deo’s vision and timely action have made it all possible.

FJF’s interactions with eminent personalities associated with Odia cinema have been quite educating for its members; the most memorable session so far has been with the iconic playback singer Nirmala Mishra, the Bengali singer who ruled the Odia film music scene for decades. Alongside his FJF activities, Deo, who is currently doing his doctoral research on Odia film music, has brought out three immensely interesting and useful books during the past five years. Odia Cinemara Rupa Rapantara (The Changing Face of Odia Cinema) is an attempt to evaluate the evolution of Odia cinema since its birth in 1936. Jhura Mana Jhara Giti, the next book, maps the territory Odia film music. It is a survey of Odia film music over 50 years starting with Sita Vivah, the first Odia film. The latest publication – Odia Cinema Geeta – is a commendable compilation of Odia film songs from 1936 to 1969 that has filled the void of an authentic source of Odia movie songs which was, hitherto, unavailable. His ongoing ambitious publication project is a complete history of Odia cinema. Recognising the pioneering work of Deo and FJF, the Department of Culture of Odisha Government recently came forward to mount a special exhibition of 80 film posters representing 80 years of Odia cinema curated and collected by Deo at the Odisha State Museum in association with FJF. The week-long exhibition of the vintage collection received such a rave response that the Government extended its duration and decided to set up a permanent gallery at the museum to showcase the posters for posterity and also educate the public about the legacy of Odia cinema.

“It gives me a sense of pride to work for the cinema of my mother tongue. Moreover, it has been my sacred responsibility as a cinema writer to document and highlight the history and beauty of our very own Odia cinema”, stated the humble journalist who plans to host an annual Odia film festival soon through FJF.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 3:55:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/surya-deo-custodian-of-odia-cinema/article8649902.ece

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