In the recent past, regional movies have been making it big at the National Film Awards ceremony. These movies have not only been able to shatter the stereotypes but their success also stamps the supremacy amidst the wave of Bollywood movies. Back home Odia films have also been awarded at the National Film Awards in the past though such movies are only a handful.
This year, Odisha woke up to a great news on April 13 when the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in New Delhi announced that Odia flick, ‘Hello Arsi’ has been selected as the Best Odia Film at the 65th National Film Award. While last year, not a single Odia film got honored at the National Film Awards ceremony, the success of ‘Hello Arsi’ comes as a ray of hope for a film industry that is always marred with controversies with the decision to revamp Kalinga Studio into a sports complex being the latest one.
The film was also able to grab two more important awards. While main protagonist of the film Prakruti Mishra was selected to receive the Special Mention award for her performance, the film also bagged the National Award for best dialogue.
The 90-minute film, starring Prakruti Mishra and Partha Sarathi Ray, is produced by Ajay Routray. The film has been shot entirely in Rourkela. ‘Hello Arsi’ chronicles the journey of two characters trying to understand each other’s mind and eventually finding love. Prakruti plays the role of a girl who gets into prostitution after her family loses its land and house to industrialisation.
Noted Ollywood actor Partha Sarathi Ray, who plays an important character in the film says, “Ever since I was narrated about my character, I was very much thrilled and upbeat about the success of the film. I shared a good rapport with Sambit both personally and professionally. He had a penchant for art, culture, literature and films. We both shared similar tastes when it comes to films. I was fortunate enough to work with him for this project.”
It was a memorable outing for the actress Prakruti at the awards ceremony whose performance in the film was appreciated from all quarters. “This award was a confidence booster for me. I had such a great time working for this project. I was always confident about the success of the film. The award will inspire me to continue to work for my state. I hope I would give many more opportunities to make my state and people proud at the national level,” said Prakruti with elation. Prakruti who is riding high on the National Award success is currently seen playing the lead character in ‘Bitti Businesswali’ aired on &TV.
Unfortunately, the director of the film Sambit Mohanty passed away in February last year due to brain stroke while the film was still in post-production stage. “We finished shooting the film in November 2016 and the unfortunate mishap occurred. We were deeply saddened by the incident. He was like an elder brother to me. The fate of the film was hanging. But with God’s grace, most of the members of the technical team of the film were from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) who came forward and helped in giving the final touches. Sambit continues to remain in our hearts through this film,”says Partha.
Sharing some on-location experiences, Partha says, “The film was shot in two phases. The initial phase was shot during the hot summer in mid June. It was pretty tough to adjust with the hot and humid climate of Rourkela. Since most of the sequences were shot inside the car, it was exhausting for me and Prakruti. Yet our commitment and dedication towards the film helped us sail through it.”
Producer of the film, Ajay Routray, received the award in the Best Odia Film category while RituPatnaik, wife of the director, Late Sambit Mohanty, received the Best Dialogue Award. Producer of the film Ajay Routray said, “We’re very happy with the success of the film. The film was made with much difficulty. Winning the National Award testified our hard work and dedication for ‘Hello Arsi’. The film will definitely take the reputation of the Odia film fraternity to a new level. We are trying our level best to release the film in the state so that people get to see the film. We’re also planning for private screenings and the film will be sent to various film festivals in the near future.”
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also took to Twitter and congratulated Prakruti and the entire team. Even Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met Prakruti in New Delhi and wished her good luck for future endeavours. Shekhar Kapur, the head of the jury for feature films at the 65th National Film Awards, too praised her for the film.
‘Hello Arsi’ has given a new ray of hope to the Odia film industry.
By Subhojit Panda