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Filmmakers worry as stars play politics

- Slowdown-hit Odia movie industry stares at difficult times ahead
Anubhav Mohanty campaigns for the BJD at Panposh in Sundargarh district. Picture by Uttam Kumar Pal

Bhubaneswar, March 29: The slowdown-hit Odia film industry is staring at darker days with most of its sought-after actors getting busy with their political aspirations.

Over the past two years, Odia films saw finances coming from different quarters leading to a remarkable rise in the number of films. But this year, the buzz has been missing very few releases.

As many as 22 films released in 2012, up from 15 to 18 films in a usual year. The number jumped to 38 films in 2013. However, most of them flopped.

But, the scenario in 2014 is completely different. Only six films have hit the theatres by the end of March this year. Interestingly, there have hardly been any top stars in the movies so far except for Akhire Akhire, starring Babushan and Jhilik, and directed by Susant Mani and Sk Muralidharan’s Smile Please with Sabyasachi and Archita in the lead.

While these four stars have not got into politics, artistes such as Aparajita Mohanty, Bijay Mohanty and Mihir Das, who are seen in most films, have no time for shooting right now. Aparajita and Bijay are contesting on Congress tickets from Cuttack and Bhubaneswar respectively for MP seats. Mihir is campaigning for the BJD. Actor Anubhav is also busy campaigning for the BJD while comedian Pappu Pom Pom is contesting for the Assembly seat from Champua for the same party.

The slowdown and the political attraction for actors has become a cause of worry for filmmakers.

“The recent slump is because the producers with real estate or chit fund as their primary business incurred losses and decided to stay away from filmmaking. It would take two or three movies to do good business to bring back the producers. But even that is a challenge now since our best actors are busy with politics,” said director Susant Mani.

“Sudden crisis in real estate, mining and many other fields that financers came from has affected Odia films,” Akash Das Nayak, who had many films in his hands last year, had told The Telegraph last month. He, too, is contesting for Korei’s Assembly seat on a BJD ticket.

Sidhant Mohapatra seems to be the only one who has kept the hopes of filmmakers alive. “He won the Berhampur MP seat in 2009 for the BJD and yet, continued to take out time for good films. We hope others take a cue from him and learn the act of balancing between films and politics,” said director Chandi Parija.

The BJD candidate’s ex-wife and popular actress Rachana Banerjee had campaigned for the Congress against him in the last elections. Sidhant would be seen in Susant Mani’s Golapi Golapi and Smruti Tume to be released later this year. Anubhav’s sequel of Something Something is in the pipeline. Youngster Babushan, who is busy helping his mother Aparajita with her campaign, is juggling between shooting for Premi and the poll frenzy.


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