Reels of apathy deal death blow to state's only film studio - Fall of the kalinga

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  • Published 21.04.11

Bhubaneswar, April 20: Visiting the 30-year-old Kalinga Studio, the only film studio in the state, can open a can of worms, literally. The reel canisters, along with equipment of film production worth crores of rupees, are rotting in the various units of the studio due to neglect of the authorities since the last four years.

Established in 1982, jointly with Prasad Labs, Chennai, the entire stake in the studio was taken over by Orissa Film Development Corporation (OFDC) in 1983 after the death of Arun Rao, successor of Prasad Labs.

Offering subsidy in production costs and providing equipment and labour (spot boys and other technicians) at a much economical price compared to other film hubs in the country, the studio could attract major film-makers from all over the country in 80s and 90s.

“T Biswanath made a Telugu film here while directors such as, Mrinal Sen and Aparna Sen had also shot in the studio. In fact, Buddhadev Dasgupta’s Bagh Bahadur was almost completely shot here,” says Pradyumna Kumar Mishra, former managing director of OFDC, during whose administration, the studio was set up.

From time to time, controversies of mismanagement of the 25acre studio, that was established after almost 50 years of the first Oriya film, surfaced.

While rumours of the studio to be sold off to Prasad’s surged in around 2000, in October 2007, the staff and various technicians working at the studio were suddenly removed form their posts and forced to take a compulsory retirement scheme.

“It was done all of a sudden. We had least expected such a move by the authorities and failed to understand why our jobs where taken away when all the units (editing, recording and video) were active and films were being shot here,” says Tutu, a technician who worked at the studio.

“We had thus revolted for 16 months when the studio was locked. In fact, the authorities had agreed to reinstate our jobs in 2009 but these turned out to be false promises,” said another former employee.

At present, the editing unit lies locked while the equipment have been dumped on one another inside the unit with least care. The video unit was demolished a couple of years ago and the equipment of the unit was abandoned in the huge screening hall, which itself lies in utter neglect.

The expensive machines and set-ups, including latest cameras, share the same fate decaying under the effect of moisture, rust and insects.

“Sound mixers, thousands of reel canisters, video-editing and dubbing equipment as well as Ariflex 2C and Arriflex 3C cameras of 35mm which are worth crores, have been mindlessly dumped into rooms that were used as offices or dubbing studio, recording studio and screening complex here. Even a Mitchell camera, one of the oldest designs, that was used to shoot the first Oriya film, has been damaged because of negligence,” said a former employee.

“The video complex worth Rs 80 lakh, which was inaugurated in 1994 by Biju Patnaik, was demolished during G.C. Nanda’s tenure as managing director of OFDC, while R.N. Dash as MD demolished the recording studio in 2007 with help of Sitakant Mishra, former chairman of OFDC,” says Pradyumna Mishra.

The state vigilance department had found out the irregularities last year after which they were removed from their respective posts.

Members of the film fraternity have given up hope of the renovation and restoration of the studio.

“The studio was not made with a long-term plan and the equipment bought then for film production was not up to the mark. Neither was there a proper technician to handle with care the cameras and other equipment, nor was there a proper set up that would help film-makers,” says Nirad Mohapatra, noted film-maker.

“However, whatever facilities were available have been ruined because of utter mismanagement,” he adds.

Producer Sanjay Nayak of Brajraj Movies, who is shooting on the premises, says: “We had to remove the jungle-like growth of vegetation to create a proper set. There is no drinking water facility here. In fact, this is why we move to studios in Andhra Pradesh or elsewhere despite huge expenses.”

He added that with no one to bother about the state of the studio, he was not hopeful it would ever see a bright future.