It is normal for retired artists & aged personalities to accept awards at the end of their careers or to receive worthy compliments from anyone who would have felt that their past accomplishments had been a classic. But it is rare indeed for a person to make their debut as a leading actor at the age above 80. However, for this elderly person, age has never stood as a barrier in his commendable passion. Breaking from his own cocoon, Atal really did something extraordinary that demands a standing ovation from all.
Hailing from a small town of Binika of Subarnapur district, Odisha, the dynamic Atal Bihari Panda is one of the renowned personalities of Odisha film fraternity. Since his childhood, he had a hunger for acting and it was once in 5th standard that Atal gained much acclamation for his performance in a play named Raja Harichandra. And there was no looking back since then. Starting from plays to dramas and cinema, the magic of Atal’s work has been simply phenomenal.
By profession, Atal is a stage actor along with a playwright. So far, he has worked in over 100 plays, written more than 60 dramas, both in Odia and Koshali language, besides the penning of six operas. In fact, his play titled Phata Kapala is one of his masterpieces that scored a huge hit in the public. Moreover Atal’s Mani Sanghara, Klanti Aparanha even garnered much popularity & appreciation. Not just that, he also happens to be the leading actor cum director of many plays and dramas. But in an unexpected turn of events, what actually made this 86-year-old actor even more versatile was his incredible performance in the movie Sala Budha!
Here’s an account of the course of affairs that led Atal do something which he had never thought of. It was once when Odia director Sabyasachi Mohapatra had asked Atal to assist him in making an adaptation of his father’s, Kapileswar Mohapatra’s, short stories into film scripts. Since Atal and Kapileswar were classmates, without much ado he agreed to help Sabyasachi in getting his work done and setting up dialogues for the script. So, with all efforts put in, both of them were eventually successful in converting Kapileswar’s short stories into film scripts but something still seemed to be missing for Sabyasachi.
Although everything for the shoot was in place but what bothered Sabyasachi was that he couldn’t find a senior actor in Ollywood industry who would play the lead role in Sala Budha. Having worked with Atal, Sabyasachi approached him for the fine role. But initially, there was a denial from Atal’s side considering the facts that he was over 80 years & that he also did not have any prior experience of such kind. However, Sabyasachi’s determination didn’t deter a bit and three months later, he finally convinced Atal to perform the lead role in the movie.
Atal was 82 when he started shooting for Sala Budha. With this debut, Atal not only got to learn how to face the cameras, but he was also applauded by many for his remarkable delivery as a protagonist in the movie. Something which at his age is spellbinding to achieve. And what followed was more appreciation through a number of awards.
Until now, Atal Bihari Panda has been accorded with over 60 respectful awards from various sectors. It was in 2013 that he stepped into the Ollywood industry to create & leave an impressive magic through his work. In fact, Atal even received the “Best Actor Award” in the 25th State Film Awards for Sala Budha.
In the State Film Awards, Atal Bihari Panda even enthralled the viewers through his dance performance on a Sambalpuri folk song, which was held at the Utkal Mandap. At the age of 84 today, Atal’s liveliness is surely a testimony to the fact that age falls short to be the hurdle in front of any passion.