'Hope such injustice will not recur' - Akademi honours an Odia playwright after a gap of almost 40 years

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By NAMITA PANDA
  • Published 19.12.13
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Bhubaneswar, Dec. 18: Veteran playwright Bijay Mishra has won the Sahitya Akademi award for his play Vanaprastha in the genre of drama. The state has more reason to cheer because an award in this segment came for the state after almost four decades.

“It is definitely a happy news and I’m glad my work has been appreciated,” said the humble 78-year-old Mishra. But he also added: “Hope such injustice will not recur. Our plays were almost forgotten by the Akademi for the past 39 years.”

Mishra, who has been writing for 55 years, often has his plays staged at major national theatre festivals. However, he believes that playwrights from the state are not widely known outside Odisha unlike Bengali or Gujarati writers.

“When your play is enacted by troupes of different regions, it is a fulfilling experience,” said the writer, who is an admirer of Henrik Ibsen’s plays.

Though Mishra feels the present generation of directors do justice to his plays, he is also concerned about the limited exposure for theatre and playwrights here.

“We have limited means and resources. But to grow, we need more exposure and need to watch plays of different regions. However, I would disagree with critics who say that our plays do not match the standard of national troupes,” he said.

The winner of many state-level awards, including those of the Odisha Sahitya Akademi and Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi as well as many honours from private organisations, Mishra won the Tagore award from the Kendriya Sangeet Natak Akademi last year.

Mishra says he expects more young writers to take care of plays in Odisha. “I’m still writing at this age, but what saddens me is that youngsters spend all their time on the Internet and not literature. We cannot groom directors or playwrights. Creativity must come from within oneself,” he said.

Authors such as Manoranjan Das and Gopal Chhotray had won this honour earlier from Odisha. The news of Mishra’s play winning the national award has led to celebrations in the theatre fraternity.

“We are extremely happy that this award has been given to him. We are almost completely dependent on him for contemporary plays in Odisha and it is admirable that he is still writing such amazing plays,” said general secretary of Odisha Natya Sangha Abhinna Routray.