(Last Updated on : 02/04/2012)
Gopal Chhotray was born on 1916 in Puranagarh village, Jagatsinghpur district. He started his career following the footsteps of Kali Charan Patnaik, but soon built an identity of his own. His first play, Sahadharmini i.e. 'Wife' in 1941, written for a competition arranged by the national War effort, was adjudged the best, encouraging him to enter Oriya theatre. In 1942 he acted for the professional Bharati Theatre in Cuttack
. In 1946 he got his break as a dramatist when his play Pheria i.e. "Come Back" was staged by Annapurna Theatre. He wrote Bharasa i.e. "Confidence" in 1953. This was the first Oriya political play, Para kalam i.e. "The Quill" in 1954. Sankha-sindura i.e. 'Conch-bangles and Vermilion' in 1955 and other scripts for professional stages were also written. His one-set experimental drama, Ardhangini i.e. 'Better Half' in 1956, set a trend and is considered a milestone during the heyday of traditional theatre.
In the mid-1950s Chhotray joined All India Radio
, Cuttack, as an employee, eventually penning over 200 radio plays that made him popular throughout Orissa
. For the first time, he introduced radio serials, like Purapuri paribarika or "Only on Family", Sriharinka samsar i.e. "Srihari's World", and Bibhrata i.e. "Pandemonium", much appreciated by listeners. In 1960, he adapted for the radio Baishnab Pani's old musical Rangasabha, well received as a fresh operatic work. Besides adapting musicals by Pani and Balakrishna Mohanry, Chhotray wrote some himself. Oriya critics credit him with the revival of gitinatya i.e. lyrical drama, through fifteen original musical works in this genre. Chhotray's Srimati samarjani i.e. "Mrs Broomstick", a broadcast dramatization of Fakir Mohan Senapati's short story "Patent Medicine", is still remembered for its masterly craftsmanship. He also dramatized a few classic Oriya novels with superb skill and efficiency. He has been rightly applauded as a juggler of dialogue. His dialogues were always short and meaningful, direct and simple exchanges derived from real life, which enchanted his audiences. His humour has a special, natural flavour. Social problems provoke him and he tries to analyze them dramatically. He has scripted for films and is an accomplished short-story writer, too.
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