Cuttack: The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the life and livelihood of every individual irrespective of his/her personal, professional, economic or social background. Those in the glamour and showbiz world are not immune to the pandemic turmoil.
Suchismita Routray, a young woman from Cuttack's Jhanjirmangala who worked as an assistant camera person in Bollywood for five long years before the pandemic struck, can be seen selling momos in the streets of the Millennium city these days to eke out a living.
[caption id="attachment_529345" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Suchismita handling camera at one of her shooting site in Mumbai[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_529346" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Suchismita selling momos at her stall in Cuttack[/caption]
Suchismita has worked with many Bollywood heavy-weights including Varun Dhawan, Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt and Emraan Hashmi. In fact, she was the only woman in the camera team and dreamt of being a cinematographer one day.
However, her dreams came crashing down after the Covid-19 induced lockdown left her jobless. She ran out of her savings in a few months, and after struggling for about 8 months in Mumbai for sustenance she was finally compelled to return to her hometown in January this year, starved and bankrupt.
[caption id="attachment_529351" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Suchismita with Sushant Singh Rajput[/caption]
When OTV caught up with Suchismita at her Momo stall in Jhanjirmangala, the 20 something year-old said "I was about to start a project when the lockdown was declared in March last year. Initially I thought the lockdown would last for two-three months and therefore I stayed put in my flat in Mumbai. But when cases rose and lockdown extended, I was left stranded there," she said.
"Later, when the lockdown eased, I tried to find work but could not get anything. In the meantime, my savings were also exhausting and I was forced to return home," she added.
When Suchismita could not arrange the necessary finances to return to her hometown, two Bollywood bigwigs extended helping hands. "I didn't have the money to return home. Thankfully Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan funded our entire crew to return to their respective hometowns," said Suchismita.
[caption id="attachment_529353" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Suchismita and her colleagues with Amitabh Bachchan[/caption]
Jobless and impoverished, Suchismita hit upon the idea of selling authentic Momos which she learnt from her roommate in Mumbai.
"I was sitting idle at home and facing financial problems. I was desperately trying to find a way out," she said.
Suchismita said her penchant for diverse food which made her an explorer of different cuisines came handy in trying her hands in setting up the small enterprise.
"I am a foodie and love to explore different types of cuisines. I had eaten Momos in North-East and Mumbai. But those sold in Cuttack were far from being authentic. It was then I decided to open my momo stall to offer customers the original taste," she explained.
She said the skills she picked up from her Nepali roommate back in Mumbai helped her in the venture. "My roommate used to make momos and I learnt from her," added Suchismita.
No wonder Suchismita's stall became an instant hit in the locality for the range it offered..from veg momo, mushroom momo, paneer momo, tandoori momo, fried momo to pan fried and chilly momo.
[caption id="attachment_529356" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Suchismita selling momos at her stall in Cuttack[/caption]
One of Suchismita's patrons, Astha Patnaik said, "The momos here are really tasty. I heard about Suchismita's stall from my father and came here to try. Besides, it's nice to meet a woman who is independent and determined towards her work."
Suchismita said though she took up the vending business for immediate survival, she'd go back to Mumbai and pursue her dreams once again after situation improved.
"I wish to become a cinematographer in Bollywood and afterwards come back to Odisha and use my expertise in the Odia film industry."
Once back to Odisha, she has plans to set up an old-age home and open a restaurant serving Odia cuisine.