Glorious innings

Feathers on her capGloria Mohanty.  

Her grandfather named her Gloria as he hoped that the baby would bring glory to the family. The granddaughter grew up to be revered as the grand old lady of Odia cinema winning the State’s highest honour for cinema — the Jayadeb Puraskar, the prestigious Odisha Sahitya Akademi Award and the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award for excellence in cinema.

Now 81 and still vigorously active in the filmdom, Gloria has more than 60 years of priceless contribution to Odisha’s theatre and cinema. Born and brought up in Cuttack, she was initiated into dance and music by her aunt and eminent actress Anima Pedini. However, it was music that made her popular during her growing up years. She was trained at the famous National Music Association, Cuttack along with her friend Sunanda Patnaik. Stalwarts like Kundala Adi Narayan, Balakrushna Dash, Bhubaneswar Mishra and Beena Debi were her gurus and mentors in music. Along with Raghunath Panigrahi and Sunanda Patnaik, she had also commenced her career as a singer with the All India Radio, Cuttack and she continued it for two decades. Even reputed companies like the HMV and Hindustan Record Company had released her records.

It was Kabichandra Kali Charan Patnaik, a father figure to Odisha’s performing arts scenario of that era, who introduced Gloria in theatre in 1944 through the play Bhata . She was just 14 years and played the role of the lead actress opposite popular actor Goura Prasad Ghosh. And for the next 16 years, this much sought after actress featured in more than 100 plays in Odia, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and English which were staged in Calcutta and New Delhi besides in Odisha.

Gloria had her debut in Odia cinema in 1950 with the path-breaking film Sri Jagannath as the leading lady Lalita. It was a huge hit that established her as a leading actress who was quite adept in dancing, acting and horse riding. Later on, she acted in popular and acclaimed films like Kedar Gouri, Maa, Sitarati, Taapoi, Tapasya, Ulka, Janani, Chhamana Athaguntha, Adi Mimansa and Sasughara Chalijibi. Besides being an acclaimed actress, singer and dancer of her times, Gloria Mohanty had the distinction of representing the State at the National Volleyball Championship twice, in 1956 and 1960 respectively.