A barber’s dedication to Sambalpuri Literature

Celebrated lyricist, dramatist and this year’s Padma Shri awardee from Sambalpur, Binod Pasayat has dedicated 7 decades of his life to writing several songs and dramas while eking out his livelihood from a barber shop, writes Mayank Bhusan Pani
Binod Pasayat.
Binod Pasayat.

SAMBALPUR : ASK him about his life and Binod Pasayat would answer, “It has been a rhythmic symphony of scissors and verses.”

Pasayat, a barber by profession, has carved a special place for himself in the literary landscape of Odisha, western Odisha in particular.

A lyricist, poet and a dramatist, the multifaceted artist has given a new impetus to Sambalpuri folk song and drama for which he has been chosen for the Padma Shri award this year. “I would like to thank Maa Samalei for blessing me and both the state and centre for recognising my efforts and considering me for this prestigious award,” said the 88-year-old writer.

Born on December 3, 1935 in Tikrapada of Balangir town, Pasayat was forced to drop out of school after Class VII due to financial constraints and join his barber father Chaitanya Pasayat in work. However, his passion for literature compelled him to shift to Sambalpur in 1953 when he was just 19. “I have loved reading since my childhood but I started writing only after shifting to Sambalpur,” he said.

Renowned dramatists Murari Prasad Mishra and Siba Prasad Mishra, who were writing ‘Gountia Babu’ at that time were the first to ignite the passion for writing in Pasayat. He started his literary career in Sambalpur under their guidance and with their support. Eventually, he came in contact with musician Arun Prasanna Seth who motivated him to write Sambalpuri folk songs.

Pasayat has written several plays and the most popular being ‘Ukhi’. It was staged to a full house at Rourkela in 1981 and in Sambalpur a year later. Some of his other Sambalpuri dramas are ‘Mui Nai Mare’, ‘Lita’, ‘Chinha’ and ‘Bharna’. His Sambalpuri songs ‘Ae Nani Sulochana’, ‘Rathar Chaka Chale Ghidighidi’, ‘Bajuche Madala Ae Baula’, ‘Hai Krushna Haie Krushana Boli’ are all-time hits.

But Binod Pasayat is better known as a lyricist. The first-ever song written by him was ‘Chhina Chhina Laguchhere Kul Jamana’ which was sung by Jayashree Rai Chowdhary. Pasayat has written many hit Sambalpuri numbers including songs for Odia films ‘Samarpan’, ‘Adivasi’ and ‘Para Stri’. “I have written a lot of Odia and Sambalpuri songs and dramas. I have stopped counting. But I remember my song Hai Krushna Hai Krushna Jau Mora Jibana has been appreciated by everyone including the Puri Gajapati, Maharaja Dibya Singhadeb,” he recalled.

Because of his writing skills, even before the radio station was established in Sambalpur, Pasayat became an approved lyricist at All India Radio Cuttack in 1959. Later, when the AIR station was established in Sambalpur Because of his writing skills, even before the radio station was established in Sambalpur, Pasayat became an approved lyricist at All India Radio Cuttack in 1959. Later, when the AIR station was established in Sambalpur in 1965, he joined as a lyricist here.in 1965, he joined as a lyricist here.

He has received more than 50 awards from various organisations, including Sarala Samman in 2008, Paschim Odisha Sanskruti Samman conferred by Sambalpur University and now the prestigious Padma Shri. He was felicitated by Odisha Sahitya Akademi in 2010.

While being counted among the eminent litterateurs in Sambalpuri language, Pasayat ensured that he did equal justice to his family profession. He set up his barber shop at Baidyanath Chhak in 1957 which became a centre of attraction for literary discussions over the years.

In fact, one of the major attractions for people who visited him for a haircut or a shave was listening to his raw creations. Pasayat had to recently give up on the trade for his failing health.

But even at the age of 88, he continues to write. He, however, laments a decline in the quality of Sambalpuri songs being created in the current times. From the use of western instruments to the choice of words, the fate of Sambalpuri songs is distorted and needs a revival, he felt.

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