| Akshay Mohanty park in Cuttack. Picture by Badrika Nath Das |
Bhubaneswar, Nov. 14: Akshay Mohanty lives through his songs in the minds of Odia people. The 74th birth anniversary of the versatile genius was observed last month on October 12. His ninth death anniversary is on November 17.
While fans and followers have been organising events to mark these occasions, the state culture department is yet to take any initiative to commemorate the state’s most-beloved singer-composer-writer.
In 2002, when Mohanty died, the state government made several promises to make sure people remembered his contribution to Odia music. Almost a decade later, nothing much seems to have been done. “When my father passed away, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had announced that a plot would be conferred in his name to preserve his memories. Also, it was proposed that events would be organised in his memory. But, all these promises have evaporated into thin air. A park on Kanika Road, which was inaugurated by the chief minister in my father’s honour in 2004, stands locked and uncared for,” said son Chitrabhanu Mohanty.
Most songs by the legend revolved around the lifestyle of Cuttack where Mohanty spent his life and breathed his last. But, no memorial in his name is to be found here.
“My father’s works still rule music charts and people love him so much that we do not need any sympathetic gesture. But, not a single statue or memorial has been erected even in Cuttack. In fact, we have been running from pillar to post for years to get a piece of land to create a museum and run a music school in his memory, but to no avail,” said Chitrabhanu, who is a member of the Akshay Mohanty Trust run by the musician’s family.
He also said that the family members had tried to recover the records that Mohanty had composed and sung for All India Radio but they were in bad shape.
Veteran personalities from the field of music feel much needs to be done to pay homage to Mohanty for his huge contribution to Odia music. Close friend and lyricist for many of Mohanty’s compositions, Devdas Chhotray, said: “I feel there should be a 100-feet statue of Akshay on the banks of the Mahanadi river facing Cuttack. It would be wonderful if, near the pedestal, his bhajans could be played in the morning and romantic songs in the evening.”
Renowned composer and singer Prafulla Kar said: “Nothing has been done for such a great artist even years after his death. This shows what respect artistes get in this state.”
“The government has shown that artistes cannot depend on it for the growth of music and art,” he added.
State culture secretary Ashok Tripathy denied allegations of the government’s failure to preserve Akshay Mohanty’s legacy. “We support the programmes conducted by foundations and groups in memory of Akshay Mohanty. Allocation of plot or maintenance of the park in his name is not the lookout of the culture department,” he said.