Khokabhai: The Maestro of Odia Music

Khokabhai: The Maestro of Odia Music

On his 81st birthday, tribute to the maestro of Odia music Akshay Mohanty aka #Khokabhai ….

“Ja re bhasi bhasi ja” – the iconic Odia song which became more popular than any song from mainstream Odia film industry, reminds you about one of the golden voices of Odisha. He is none other than Akshay Mohanty, fondly called Khokabhai. He always added the local flavor of Cuttack to his creations whether as a lyricist or composer or singer. Even without any formal training, Khokabhai excelled in all departments of music and created some immortal songs for generations to come.

His contribution to the Odia music industry is phenomenal, irrespective of different genres. Be it modern, filmy, devotional, folk or peppy numbers. Khokabhai was fond of experimenting with new concepts in his music. While he sings the ballad “Kanchi Abhijana” effortlessly, he also does equal justice to devotional song like “Eka to bhakata jibana”.

He puts the rustic Katakia flavor into “Ja re bhasi bhasi ja” while creating history with the title song of film Jajabara.

His peppy numbers like “Alo mani” to romantic songs like “Nadira nama alasa kanya” were equally appreciated by music lovers.

With 70+ movies to his credit as a music director and several songs as lyricist & singer, Akshay Mohanty has carved a niche place for himself in Odia music. His songs are still popular with music lovers from all spectrums. The legacy of the legend will continue to live in our hearts forever…

Dilemma of an Odia

The maiden trip out of Odisha Pravat took was when he went to Kolkata for his summer internship. The first hurdle that one faces while going out of his/her domicile, is communication. Pravat was no exception. With no knowledge of the native Bengali language, only options left were to either speak in English or Hindi. The latter is more practical for communicating with all strata of people. And that was his first experience of thinking in Odia, translating it in Hindi and then speaking it in Hindi (with the typical Odia accent)! The process got optimised during the one month stay in Kolkata, which was relatively safer with respect to the semantics of Hindi language. As Bengalis are no better in terms of control over the Hindi language, Pravat never felt awkward when he went awfully wrong in a pronounciation or in grammar somewhere! After he came back home, he could feel his metamorphosis!

Fate takes you to places that you have never imagined. Pravat’s next stint away from Odisha was at Mumbai, where suddenly the system he had fine-tuned to speak Hindi, was questioned. The accent had changed, people were fussy about grammar (He still makes mistakes in determining the gender of a word!) and it was damning to get exposed and being laughed at. But the warrior inside him was still strong to take up the task to further streamline the translation process! So the focus shifted to have total control over literal aspects of Hindi apart from the new accent. And bingo, it started working. Pravat got the confirmation when an usual critic said he was not sounding a non-Hindi speaking guy anymore! Pravat kept the system intact by further polishing it as and when possible.

The difference between the spans of time spent in Odisha and at his work place, was gradually increasing. So was the switching between the inbuilt and the acquired system of communication. Many a times they used to get altered, leading to funny situations. But overall the communication system was well established. Pravat was no more pronuncing ‘Very’ as ‘Bhery’, speaking without showing up his Odia accent while speaking Hindi. The feeling used to be content while speaking to people in Hindi.

During all this transformation, one thing never changed: Pravat’s attachment with the mother tongue. He’s still very particular about the semantics and accent of the classical language Odia. Pravat makes liberal use of English words while speaking in Odia. Fakir Mohan is one of his best literary figures, even after him using many Urdu words in his works. Pravat has been abstaining from Ollywood for almost a decade now (which he feels has become a copycat industry at the cost of Odia language). Pravat didn’t like the Rangabati song by Sona Mahapatra as he felt it ruined the rustic folk song that’s in blood of every Odia. Most importantly Pravat doesn’t like to crib about everything about being an Odia.

Question here is “what does that make Pravat? An opportunistic Odia from a backward state with no love for the mother tongue or a practical Odia with ambitions and love for other languages too, other than the mother tongue?”

Encounter with a farmer

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>It happened during a trip to my native. Would not discuss more about the place or people as that’s not the focus here. After a comfortable train journey, the next patch was to be covered by road, I chose to take an auto rickshaw. Upon a hard bargaining, got hold of a decent looking guy who agreed to my T&C!
There was something special about this guy who was dressed smartly and had some sophistication while speaking. With the intention of digging into his life, I initiated a conversation by asking if he owns the auto. He replied in affirmation and said he got it through an auto loan. Poor fellow I thought, makes a living from the meagre earnings. Then I checked about his qualifications as he was using ample number of English words in his conversations. He was a graduate in political science! Respect! Not for his degree but for the courage to be an autowallah inspite of being decently educated.

As the interaction was getting into flow, I tried poking my nose into his personal life. He responded without hesitation. Eldest of three siblings, he was from a modest background. Family earned it’s living from a small piece of land. After completing graduation, he tried for jobs, experimented with business but failed miserably in both. So he decided to join his father back home and concentrate on farming. I was thinking of asking him “Oh! You failed there too?”, but stopped myself from doing that as that would sound rude.

He had been into farming for quite some time now and was still continuing. I asked if farming is a good enough profession while we hear about farmer suicides from every part of the country. He said no doubt the going has got very tough for farmers, but when there is a strong will there is a way. There is a scarcity of innovation in this sector which can be attributed to the lacklustre focus of the policy-makers and also the urban oriented people from village. He had studied details about modern farming in countries like New Zealand, USA and Switzerland etc to understand the nuances of the trade. I was getting amazed with the ease and fulency with which he was explaining things to me. Apart from two harvests of paddy and one of pulses, the smart fellow had ventured into vegetables and aquaculture. Proud owner of about 30 acres of agricultural land, my auto-rickshaw driver, a content farmer, has a farm house which uses solar power for its appliances.

The interaction with our learned farmer was quite a memory and very pleasing to know that with a different thought towards agriculture, it can be achieved what this fellow has done. If we look into developed nations which are good at agriculture, they have given it industry status. Science and Technology is gone into the methods of farming. People in farming are well aware about the skills required for modern farming. Moreover as it is considered as a business, there is diversification in the trade. Probably if our policymakers can look into these factors, our farmers also can prosper like their global peers.

Weekend getaway in Bhubaneswar

Across the eastern coastline of India lies a city called Bhubaneswar, Odisha which is incidentally the capital city of Odisha which is a state of the Indian republic. Usually a slow paced city with planned distribution of habitation, the city boasts of its temples. Bhubaneswar houses a plethora of temples dedicated to various Hindu gods and goddesses, so it’s also called as temple city. Being strategically located, the city serves as a base point for inward tourists to plan their itinerary. Many use Puri, Odisha for this purpose too because of its religious significance due to the Jagannatha Temple and also due to cost effective accommodation.

However for those who wish to have some extra comfort to relax and satiate their culinary appetite, can choose to check into a luxury hotel in Bhubaneswar.

There are various star properties available for tourists to choose, based on their budgets. Mayfair Lagoon is one luxury hotel which I always gave least preference going by its looks from outside. Until recently when I stayed there for a few days.

The ambience inside the hotel is world class. Built in a cottage/resort format, it has villa type accommodation. The best part is the greenery inside the resort which has been created over a long time. Across the corridors, you find artefacts, statues and fountains which add some contrast to the rustic nature look. Best part is the whole place is maintained well and it’s very clean.

For culinary lovers, the resort houses various restaurants with world cusine, local delicacies to an Irish pub. Lazy bugs can relax with a drink across the swimming pool surrounded by greenery. Quality of food is great (though quite highly priced!).

It also has recreational facilities too for those interested. But I never used, so no idea about them.

Mayfair Lagoons is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway for local travellers to relax and spoil themselves! For international tourists, the resort offers an opportunity to explore Bhubaneswar and it’s surroundings, with sacrificing the comfort & luxury.

Note:
I have no connection with the hotel. The blog is just for sharing of experience. Its website has detailed and beautiful illustrations, along with further details about the hotel.

I return!

After a long break from Blogosphere, it feels so refreshing to be back in the circle of fellow-bloggers again. Life has its compulsions, duties to be performed. That dries up the time for gateways of expression. However the “return” is often sweet and fresh after a break…

So a big hello to my blogger friends and hereby inform that I am limping back to action slowly….

Come, let’s celebrate “Music”

Today is celebrated as World Music Day and people across the globe are celebrating that sweet sensation called “Music”. Everyone from an expert to a novice can’t just keep himself aloof from this wonderful gift of nature. Yes, you heard it right. Music comes from nature too. One needs to have the ears to listen to music that nature plays. The waves in the sea, cool breeze caressing the leaves, shower of rain – they all play some king of music.

Will not go into the technicalities as I am no expert in that. Music for me is that soothing sensation which relaxes your body and mind. Music is beyond the barriers like language or religion, it is something that just cheers you up and lifts your spirit. Be it the retro songs from Bollywood, some folk song from the remote villages, some western classical or some soulful Sufi song. All of them have the same effect, they touch the soul. In today’s stressful lifestyle, when both body as well as mind get exhausted, everyone looks for an avenue to unwind. Listening to some nice music or playing a musical instrument for me is one such avenue which recharges the soul. I am sure there would many among you who also share the same feelings.

So friends, let’s celebrate this day by taking time out and listening to those favorite songs or by playing that musical instrument which you had somehow kept aside…