(Last Updated on : 02/04/2012)
Bhikari Charan Patnaik was a dramatist of Oriya theatre. He tried a lot to reform Oriya society. Born in 1877, he was a lawyer by profession. He wrote his first play Engrez kartrika Kataka vijaya or "Conquest of Cuttack by the British" in 1901. This became an instant success. This historical drama was written in Shakespearean style, then fashionable in educated Orissa
. Patnaik followed history accurately, adding very little from imagination. But he wove the detailed descriptions of historical events beautifully into a rhythmic musical structure.
His Nandikeswari in 1915 faithfully dramatized a poem of the same name by the famous modern Oriya poet, Radhanath Ray. Perhaps the tragic element impressed Patnaik to dramatize it. Here, too, he followed the source, incorporating little of his own. It premiered at the Usha Pandal i.e. an amateur theatre in Cuttack
in 1916. In the same year, Patnaik's third play, Ratnamali in 1915, was first staged at the Kanika Rajbati Pandal. This was an original work. By this time he had mastered the art of weaving characters around a well-conceived plot loaded with human values.
Also in 1915 he wrote a social drama, Sansar chitra i.e. 'Worldly Scenes' on the theme of dowry, for which reason the heroine commits suicide. Patnaik tried to create an atmosphere of awareness about this hazardous system. Sushila in 1917 was another social play. It dealt with female education rather radically. The dramatist tries here to show the harmful effects of Western education. Patnaik wrote two farces, Adbhuta adarsha i.e. "Strange Ideals" in 1909 and Youtuka i.e. "Dowry" in 1924. These also meant for awakening social consciousness. His Raja Purushottam in 1925, though a historical play, mainly depends upon legends and myth, while Nimpama in 1952 and Karma kshetra i.e. "Field of Work" in 1960 are part of his reformist attitude. In style Patnaik followed Ramshankar Ray. He was also a poet with innumerable compositions to his credit. Bhikari Charan Patnaik died in 1962.
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