Decades ago, whenever an avid theatrical enthusiast staged a play in any district of western Odisha, usually in Odia, Sambalpuri was the language spoken in those areas. There were few scripts written in Sambalpuri and Sambalpuri plays were rarely performed.
Theater activists such as Murari Prasad Mishra and Atal Bihari Panda set the tone for Sambalpuri theater by coming up with scripts in language. During the mid-70s and mid-80s, talented playwrights such as Mangalu Charan Biswal and Binod Pasayat made a conscious effort to create regular theater venues at Sambalpuri.
They were followed by young theater activists, playwrights such as Dwarika Nayak, Kesha Ranjan Pradhan, Raviranjan Pradhan, Pradeep Bol, Brajendra Nayak, Pradeep D. Maji, Satyaranjan Behera and others. Directors, actors have taken Sambalpuri’s plays to various multilingual theater competitions outside Orissa.
In 1997, Yuva Udayan and Swara, two of Sambalpur’s major socio-cultural groups, considered organizing a drama competition that would only stage plays in the Sambalpur language. It proved to be a pivotal moment for the drama, language, literature and culture of Sambalpuri.
The competition is named after Sambalpur’s iconic hero, Bia Surendra Sai. Bia Surendra Sai is known for his tenacious resistance to the British for almost 30 years. The Veer Surendra Sai All Odisha Sambalpuri Drama Competition, held in the last week of December every year at Aranyak Mandap in the old district of Jalupala, Sambalpur, has been a huge success from the outset with teams from different districts of western Odisha participating. rice field. .
Swara withdrew from the competition after three years, but Yuba Udayan continued to hold the competition every year. In 2022, the competition has completed its Silver Jubilee.
Over the past 25 years, more than 500 Sambalpuri plays have been staged at Aragnyak Mandap. The competition helped create many original scripts that enrich Sambalpuri literature.
It is a kind of cultural movement. The success of the contest can be judged from the fact that on occasion district teams such as Cuttack and his Koraput also entered the contest with Sambalpuri scripts. The success of this competition has led to similar competitions being held in other districts of West Orissa.
Veer Surendra Sai All Odisha Sambalpuri Drama The performances in the competition effectively reflect society. They range from decadent family values, corrupt education and healthcare, to urbanization, economic stress, rural distress, migration, displacement, mining, caste and community polarization, and corporate control of national wealth. In December 2022, four plays about the loneliness and despair of older people will be staged.
Many of today’s best-known playwrights, directors and actors tell the stories of how they began their journeys into theater and film at Aranjak Mandap. They admit to honing their skills by returning year after year to the Veer Surendra Sai All Odisha Drama Competition.
Artists say they’ve gotten a kick out of performing in front of theatergoers at the 400-seat Aranyak Mandap. Each year, nearly half of theatergoers are women, who flock to the auditorium to buy tickets and see their favorite plays.
This is a kind of enthusiasm rarely found elsewhere in Orissa. Odia film legend Salat Pujari always admired the disciplined audience of Aranjak Mandap who never failed to encourage the artists during the competition.
Organizing such a large-scale competition is no joke. Hundreds of artists perform, food and stay are taken care of to organize tools and equipment for the stage. Very little organizational support. But Yuba his Udayan volunteers and Sambalpur theatergoers who are supporting the endeavor by paying for tickets have shown the resilience to make it happen.
After the Silver Jubilee celebrations, the Surendra Sai All Orissa Sambalpuri Drama Competition can successfully complete the Diamond Jubilee.