Mrunal Manmay Dash

Even as the Kotia panchayat in Koraput district continues to be a bone of contention between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, the portrayal of the disputed region as a part of the neighbouring state in a Telugu film has stroked fresh controversy.

In the film titled ‘Extraordinary Man’, Andhra reportedly tried to give the impression to its audience that Kotia does not belong to Odisha, at the same time sidelining the claim of Odisha. As per the movie, Kotia was in Odisha during British rule, but it merged with Andhra after Independence.

Furthermore, the film which has been released on the OTT platform in multiple languages, reportedly portrayed the miseries of Kotia people, and showcased the present scenario of the area and administrative negligence. It showed the residents of Kotia with Aadhaar and ration cards from both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

The movie has stoked resentment in Odisha while various quarters in the State have expressed concern over it. People alleged that Andhra Pradesh is trying to scare the residents of Kotia into providing their consent to merge with AP through the movie.

Audience in Jeypore questioned the intention of making such a film on Kotia which has been in Odisha since the British raj. It is being asked how can a film be made about a contentious issue which is sub-judice in Supreme Court and who allowed the film production team to shoot this movie in Kotia.

“This is not right by Andhra to show a place as theirs which has been with Odisha since ages. I am really hurt after watching the film. Kotia belongs to Odisha and AP should stop occupying our territory,” said a cine-goer in Jeypore, K Aruna.

For the last several years, Andhra has been conspiring to lure the people of Kotia by offering them sops and trying to set up its own projects, it was alleged.

Meanwhile, political reactions have begun to flow in over the movie slamming the Odisha and Koraput district administration for the same.

“It should be examined whether the film producer had obtained permission from Koraput district administration to shoot the movie in Kotia. If they were permitted by the admin, then on what ground? I would like to call upon the Odisha government to do a film on Kotia too,” said Jeypore BJP leader Himanshu Mohapatra.

Similarly, Koraput district Congress president, Durgashankar Sahu said, “It is really unfortunate that a movie has been made on Kotia showing the region as not a part of Odisha. Who permitted them to do it in Odisha?”

A BJD leader in Jeypore, Srinivas Bala Ray said, “A film producer has to take permission from the local authorities before shooting their film in any area. But if they have not done so, it is really unfortunate.”

Asked about the issue, Koraput Sub-Collector Benudhar Shabar said, “They did not have any permission to shoot the film in Kotia. Odisha has done many developmental activities in the region. If they have portrayed Odisha in a poor light, then it is unacceptable.”