Incredible Orissa

Mohan Sundar Deb Goswami – Father of Odia cinema

Today is Mohan Sundar Deb Goswami’s 126th birth anniversary. His real name was Shyamsundar Devgoswami. He is credited with making ‘Sita Bibaha’, the first full length feature film in Odisha, and is thus called the father of Odia cinema.

Born on 8 August 1892, Mohan Sundar Deb Goswami was the pioneering filmmaker. He was director, screenwriter, musician, singer and actor par excellence. He also produced some of the finest cinemas and the film fraternity rightly considers him as the father and doyen of the Odia film.

In 1936, few days after Orissa achieved its political identity, first Odia film Sita Bibaha hit the silver screen on 28th April that year. Based on a drama written by Kamapal Mishra, the film was Mohan’s brain child. With his deep knowledge in ‘Rasa Nritya’ – a story from the epic Ramayana of the marriage of Lord Rama and Sita, Mohan successfully transformed it into celluloid form.

That time, Odisha did not have basic infrastructural facilities for film production. There was neither studio nor a good director. Mohan Sundar Deb Goswami himself wrote the script and with the help of Priyanath Ganguli of Kolkata produced “Sita Bibaha” which was released on the occasion of Utkal Gourav Madhusudhan Jayanti at Laxmi Takies in Puri.

He had formed a Rasa troupe that toured all over the state and outside to spread the cultural extravaganza of Odissi music and dance. He had written more than 25 dance drama. He had melodious voice. Besides, he had the expertise to play 27 musical instruments like Harmonium, pakhouz, tabla mrudhanga, nal, jodi nagra, sitar, flute and others.

For a creative genius like Mohan, life was not rosy all the way. Once he got busy with film making, his Rasadal suffered a lot. Mohan suffered from leprosy towards the last leg of his life forcing him to live an isolated life. His life was so miserable with no finance; he was forced to appeal to the people of the state for financial help. A fighter against many odds from his young days, Mohan Sundar Deb Goswami breathed his last on 11, January, 1948.

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