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In search of quality

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Mahendra Prasad - Guest Column (The Author Is Is The Director, International Relations, KIIT University)   |   Published 29.09.14, 12:00 AM

A number of Odia magazines are published during the Puja. In fact publishers, editors and writers look forward to this time to find if there is any new entry. It has been a known fact that most magazines are published once in a year and that is during the Pujas. Such once-in-a-year magazines have also been immensely popular for a host of reasons, the most evident being the size, its colourful get up and attractive design.

However, one area that gets neglected is drama. The number of one-act plays in Puja magazines has always been very negligible. So also has been the fate of detective stories and adventure writing.

Across the world, detective stories, murder mysteries, jungle stories, adventure writing, espionage plots and possible spy theory-based books have been immensely popular and bestsellers. Somehow, for reasons unknown, most of our writers do not think the same.

This could be because either we are not ready for such literature or the authors fear that they might be branded negative who eulogise violence, murder, conspiracy, swindle etc.

During the Pujas, not only old and regular magazines, but a few brand new ones also hit the stands. One rough estimate would suggest that more than one thousand short stories and double that number of poems are published during this time.

Writers such as Mahapatra Nilamani Sahoo, Manoj Das, Chandrasekhar Rath, Santanu Acharya, Ramachandra Behera, Bibhuti Patnaik, Binapani Mohanty, Prativa Ray, Tarunkanti Mishra, Hrushikesh Panda etc. have recently become very choosy when it comes to writing for magazines.

Similar is the case in poetry. Ramakant Rath, Sitakanta Mohapatra, Rajendra Kishre Panda, Hara Prasad Das, Soubhagya Kumar Mishra are some of the best known names in the field. Needless to say this formidable brigade has always given the youngsters a run for their money. These illustrious poets have been enriching our lives as well as literature.

One interesting but common feature in Pujas over the years has been the younger generation of storywriters and poets.

Some of the well-known names are Basudev Surani, Kedar Mishra, Bharat Majhi, Shakti Mohanty, Subhashri Lenka. Gourahari Das and had Paresh Patnaik, Bhima Prusty, Sarada Prasad Misrha, Ajaya Swain, Kabita Barik and Satyapriya Mahalik, Paramita Satapathy, Arabinda Ray, Chirasri Indrasingh, Deba Prasad Dash are also still contributing.

The next bunch led by Saroj Bal had promised much, but deliverance has not been upto expectations.

However, Katha, the monthly short story magazine from the stable of Eastern Media, has been an exception as in the race of producing Puja Special, it has not made itself look like a coaching centre manual. Katha’s October issue is published as Naba Prativa Bisesanka (the talent hunt issue).

Like Katha, there are two or three magazines that are solely dedicated to either short stories or poems. Bibhuti Patnaik’s Galpa or Arabinda Ray’s Amari Gapa or Bhikari Dhal’s Kavyalok are quite popular. While Galpa has been able to retain its charm, Bhikari Dhal’s Kavyalok has been able to impress the readers by its commitment, and if I can say so, relentlessness.

Last Puja, around 90 magazines were available in the old bus stand’s kiosks. This time around, readers can hope to see 100 of them. With the advancement in printing technology and computer graphics and designing, most magazines look like newlywed brides, full of jewellery, et all. It is not even remotely possible on the part of the most enthusiastic of readers to go through even half of them, neither is it also possible to purchase all of them. The readers are eagerly waiting for a satisfying literary Puja.

Jhankar, Katha, Paschima, Pakhighara, Arpita, Apurba, Pahacha, Kadambini, Gokarnika, Bartika, Neelakain, Yugashri-Yuganari, Akhyansha, Lekhalekhi, Samaroha, Amrutayana, Chithi, Katha Katha Kabita Kabita and Nabalipi will be the flag bearers as usual, but there are many others that will try to create an impression. Let’s see if they leave any lasting impression.

Avid readers allege that from thousands, only a few are really good! If only one short story per magazine and one poem per magazine is good, we have nearly one hundred each “really good” stories and poems. The irony is all these “really good” things are not available at one place! However, Puja holds great promise and let us hope that the literary offerings will not only be huge, but also qualitatively memorable.

However, the Puja will miss the charm and elegance of Prasanna Mishra, Jagadish Mohanty, Tirthananda Mishra and Suresh Balabantaray, who have left us.

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