With a series of heartbreaking and unfortunate events, the outgoing 2020 turned out to be one of the most ominous years which was marked by the loss of a number of eminent personalities from various sections of the society in Odisha.
In other words, 2020 which has not been so kind to the people is arguably one of the worst years to look back.
Here's a look at the lost gems who the people of the State will ever remember for the indelible print they left through their extraordinary work.
Bijay Mohanty, one of the most enigmatic figures in the Odia film industry won the hearts of millions through his unforgettable on-screen depiction of myriad characters passed away at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar in July following prolonged illness. He was suffering from heart ailments and underwent treatment at Hyderabad. He was later brought to Bhubaneswar in a special air ambulance. The end came in the capital city.
Starting his career in 1977 with super-hit Ollywood flick ‘Chilika Tire’, which had won the National Award that year, Mohanty went on to deliver a series of hits: Naga Phasa, Samay Bada Balaban, Danda Balunga, Sahari Bagha, Chaka Bhaunri and Chaka Akhi Sabu Dekhuchi, to name a few. He had joined the drama department of the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya and retired as a professor from the institute.
Another Ollywood ever-green star and noted theatre actor-cum director Ajit Dash left for heavenly abode in September. He was hospitalised after getting infected with Covid-19. Das, known for his performance in films such as Hakim Babu and Tunda Baida, was a product of the National School of Drama (NSD). Das had acted in more than 60 Odia films. He had also presented a number of blockbuster Odia movies to cine lovers. Das had served as the head of the department of drama at the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya in Bhubaneswar. Starting his film career with Sindura Bindu (1976), he became a household name through his outstanding performance.
Once considered the queen of Odia music album industry, Deepa Sahoo lost her long battle with uterus cancer and passed away at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar in July. She had carved a niche for herself through her remarkable performance in many hit Odia albums. Besides music albums, she had also acted in several Odia films and television shows.
The Odia film industry lost another jewel in November when eminent director, filmmaker and cinematographer Raj Gopal Mishra alias Raju died following a cardiac arrest. He was the first in the Odia industry to introduce a touch of commercial cinematography. Mishra who had made his debut as an independent cinematographer, filmmaker and music director with ‘Ulka’, had won the State Award for Best Cinematography for the movie. A recipient of many awards including Indian Panaroma Award, Jayadev Samman, Mishra had also proved his versatility by writing screenplays and dialogues for many hit films.
A rare gem of Odia Jatra industry, Mahendra Das, popularly known as Viku Seth, left for heavenly abode in September at the age of 55 in a private hospital in Cuttack following a heart stroke. Famous as ‘Jollywood Bad Man’, Das, who captivated the audience through his outstanding performance, had shot to fame through his unforgettable dialogue ‘Na Ta Tahale Mina, Bhala Nachila..Dheet’ in his superhit Jatra play ‘Saguna Basichi Dena Malei’. Das had also appeared in a negative character in Odia movie 'Jashoda'.
Eminent Indian classical singer and daughter of legendary Odia poet Baikunthanath Patnaik, Sunanda breathed her last following pro-longed illness in Kolkata in January at the age of 85. Popularly known as “Guruma”, Patnaik had been honoured with the Odisha Sangeet Natak Academy award twice in 1970 and 1971 and the lifetime achievement award in 2009 by the Odisha Society of the Americas (OSA) in 2012. Besides, she was also the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award (Tagore Akademi Puraskar) for the year 2012. The documentary film ‘Nilamadhaba’ based on the biography of Sunanda had won the national award. Her masterpiece ‘jibana Patra Mo Bharichha Kete’ still occupies a prominent place in the hearts of millions of Odia music lovers.
Odia film and music industry lost a jewel towards the fag end of the year when eminent music director Shantanu Mohapatra passed away at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar on December 29 at the age of 82. Mohapatra lost his long battle with acute pneumonia and kidney ailment. A multi-talented artist of Odisha, Mohapatra was associated with the Odia music industry for almost 60 years. He had composed music for many heart-touching melodies in several blockbuster Odia movies including Suryamukhi, Arundhati, Chilika Tire and Dora.
Odisha politics lost a stalwart when former Minister and BJD MLA from Pipili Pradeep Maharathy breathed last following post Covid-19 complications at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar. The seven-time MLA from Pipili, Maharathy had started his political career as a student leader and was elected to the Odisha Assembly for the first time in 1985 on a Janata Party ticket. Maharathy had served as Agriculture, Panchayati Raj and Fisheries Minister in the Naveen Patnaik government. He was also the Government chief whip and deputy chief whip during his long political career.
In October, Odisha politics was in for a void when veteran politician and former Speaker of the Odisha Assembly, Sarat Kar, died after losing battle with Covid-19. A well-known writer, Kar had been elected to the Odisha Legislative Assembly thrice from Mahanga. A prolific orator, Kar shot to prominence after he trounced Congress heavyweight JB Patnaik and got elected to Lok Sabha from Cuttack in 1977.
Among the political heavyweights who resigned after an eventful innings, former Union minister Arjun Charan Sethi deserves special mention. The eight-time MP from Bhadrak Lok Sabha constituency left for heavenly abode in June. Sethi was the Union Water Resources Minister in the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. An agile but soft spoken person, Sethi had also been elected to the Odisha Assembly twice. He always continued to retain his popularity and mass appeal through his dedicated service and commitment. Odisha lost a towering leader with Sethi’s untimely demise.
Bishnu Charan Das, a well known figure in Odisha politics, died in July after battling with multiple ailments. A six time MLA, Das had a brief stint in the Rajy Sabha after he was appointed as the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Board. He was embroiled in a controversy in 2007 during his tenure as the School and Mass Education Minister for allegedly pressuring the officials of the Board of Secondary Education, Orissa to raise marks of his son in the high school certificate examination.
Madan Mohan Dutta
The State Unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered an irreparable loss after sitting MLA from Balasore Sadar, Madan Mohan Dutta, popularly known as Mangu Bhai, passed away in June at the age of 62. Elected to the State Assembly for the first time in 2019, Dutta battled several ailments including kidney problems.
Senior BJP leader and former IPS officer Ashok Sahu breathed his last in Cuttack in September after a long battle with various ailments. A RSS ideologue, Sahoo had also faced suspension from the BJP for remarks against senior leaders. He had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections twice as a BJP candidate from Kandhamal (2009) and Puri (2014). He took voluntary retirement from service in 2003 to join the BJP.
Sushila Devi- The First Lady of Odisha
The First Lady of Odisha and wife of Governor Prof Ganeshi Lal, Sushila Devi, breathed her last following a brief battle with post-Covid complications in November.
Bhabani Charan Patnaik
A pall of gloom descended on Odisha politics in May following the demise of noted freedom fighter, Gandhian and former Rajya Sabha member Bhabani Charan Patnaik. Patnaik had joined the Quit India movement with Gandhiji and spent around four years in jail. He had joined Congress after the Country got Independence. A close associate of the legendary Biju Patnaik, the Gandhian was elected to the Upper House thrice. A Padmashri awardee, Patnaik had been cremated with full state honour.
A well-known figure in Odisha bureaucracy, Priyabrata Patnaik left for heavenly abode at a private hospital in Mumbai in July. The 1976 batch IAS officer was fighting cancer and lost the battle at the age of 67. Served in various capacities in the state bureaucracy with distinction, Patnaik had played a key role in the early days of power reforms in Odisha as the chairman of Gridco in 2000-2001. Patnaik was actively involved in sports. He was the president of the Odisha Judo Association, Bhubaneswar-based Sahid Sporting Cricket Club and chief patron of Odisha Tennis Association. Besides, Patnaik had served as president of the Bhubaneswar Club for several years.
Former Odisha Director General Of Police (DGP) SK Chatterjee died following pro-longed illness in Delhi in November. An IPS officer of the 1966 batch, Chatterjee served as the head of the Odisha police from 10.03.2000 to 30.04.2001.
Odisha police mourned the demise of its former head SN Tiwari, who had breathed his last in August. He had lost his long battle with cancer at the age of 81. He will be remembered for his professional excellence, integrity, humility and compassion.
Odisha had also lost another former Director General of Police (DGP) Prafulla Chandra Rath who had passed away in February at his residence in Cuttack. Rath who served as a collector during British era had joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) at the age of 20 and went on to serve the police administration for 35 years.
Odia literary world lost one of its legendary sons in April following the demise of renowned dramatist and scriptwriter Bijay Mishra. With his demise, the Odia film, television and theatre world had suffered an irreparable loss. He had received the Odisha Sahitya Academy Award, Kendra Sangeet Natak Academy Award and the Jayadev Samman for his lifetime contribution to Odia cinema as a screenwriter. He had penned more than 60 plays, 55 films and several television serials.
A luminary in Odia literature and well known academician Ratnakar Chaini passed away following old age-related ailments at his residence in Cuttack in April at the age of 75. Chaini had served as a lecturer in Odia literature at different colleges and served as the president of Sanskar Bharti and the Utkal Sahitya Samaj. Some of his literary geniuses include ‘Achyutananda Rachanabali’, ‘Niraba Kolahala’, ‘Kabi Gopalkrushna’, ‘Asha Brundabana’, ‘Achyutananda Gitabali’, ‘Ajira Galpa’, ‘Tathapi Rabana’ and ‘Kaha Lalita’. Apart from receiving several awards for his contribution to Odia literature, Chaini was conferred with the Sahitya Bharati Samman for 2016.
An unfilled void was created in the medical fraternity when acclaimed neurosurgeon Sanatan Rath left for heavenly abode following old-age related complications in Cuttack in June. A CMC (Vellore) fellow, Rath had joined as an assistant professor of Neurosurgery in SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack and was later appointed head of the department. He had also served as the Director of Medical Education.
Another jewel in the world of medicine in the State and eminent nephrologist Prof Chittaranjan Kar passed away following Covid-19 related complications at a private hospital in Chenai in November. Kar is credited to have initiated kidney and cadaver transplant in the State. He was Professor of Nephrology department at the SCBMCH and in-charge of the State renal transplant programme.
The nation was in for a shock when five-year-old Balia, one of the conjoined twins from Milipada village in Kandhamal district who was separated from the head at AIIMS in 2017, died at the SCB Medical College and hospital in Cuttack on November 26. Balia succumbed to a bout of pneumonia three years after he was separated from his twin brother Jaga. The conjoined twins Jaga and Balia, had undergone complicated surgeries for separation of their heads at the AIIMS. They were the first craniopagus twins in India to be successfully separated.