Pradeep Pattanayak

He has seen the entire gamut of transformation taken place in the field of photography since the time when kings were ruling to the present era when mobile phones have doubled as cameras. 

Meet Odisha’s first photojournalist, Purnachandra Bindhani, a centenarian who lives in Baripada. 

Purnachandra’s family shifted from Puri to Baripada during the time when Maharaja Jadunath Bhanja was ruling over Mayurbhanj. 
Born in 1924, Purnachandra studied up to high school. During his childhood days, he fell in love with photography. 

One day, Maharaja Pratap Chandra Bhanja got a chance to know about his skill and appointed him as a photographer. He became famous as a photographer and there was no looking back for him. 

He has clicked photographs of not only kings but also of British rulers and aristocrats. On one occasion, the king of Nepal was so pleased that he gifted him a German-made camera. 

During that time, Purnachandra became the only photographer who met the criteria to become a police photographer which is mentioned in the book titled ‘Police Wants Your Help’.

“I could give three dimension effects to my photographs. And the other photographs were not able to do so,” said Purnachandra. 

He is also known as a journalist and press photographer. He has earned a name and fame as an independent journalist. During his career, once he had the opportunity to click a photograph of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for which he was felicitated as well. The photo was featured on the cover page of a book on Gandhi. 

His ‘Bhashalipi Sanskara Prastaba’ was published on the seventh edition of the Odisha Sahitya Akademi’s magazine ‘Konark’. 
Now, he has hundreds of photographs of those bygone eras to speak for his unmatched talent. 

“Purnachandra Bindhani is a walking history of Mayurbhanj. He is the first photographer who was appointed in the royal court,” said Subrat Kumar Das, a photojournalist, Baripada. 

Despite his advancing age, he is still fit and fine. 

“I have never seen him getting angry with anyone. Whenever we ask anything, he sits for narrating,” said Sangeeta Bindhani, Purnachandra’s daughter-in-law. 

Besides being known as a photographer, Purnachandra has also left his footprint in Odia cinema. He has acted in films like ‘Abhiman’ and ‘Phula Chandan’ and proved his talent as an actor. He is also known as a Chhau artiste. 

But he has never neglected his family profession-to construct chariot. He has visited Ranchi, Rairangpur, Saraskana, Jharsuguda and Balasore to construct chariot of Lord Jagannath.

“It is my good luck that he acted in one of my films. His shots were Okayed in one take. I am also grateful to him as I started my acting career in a film written by him,” said Chinmay Das Pattanayak, director and producer.

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