BHUBANESWAR: People loved to hate him. Perhaps the most popular brute of his times in Ollywood, Hara Patnaik redefined villainy in the film industry. From a wicked zamindar to a ruthless smuggler or even a rapist, Patnaik, industry’s loving Hara bhai, carved a special place for himself portraying various shades of characters.
Born on October 12, 1958 in Cuttack, the 56-year-old finally breathed his last on Tuesday. Patnaik started his career after completing a degree in drama from the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya in 1981. Before making his Odia film debut in Mohammad Mohsin’s ‘Sahari Bagha’ in 1985, the actor had started working in Odia theatre as a member of Shatabdi Ra Kalakar group. But he soon jumped to the film industry as an assistant director to Sisir Mishra and Raju Mishra. In fact, it was Raju Mishra who found out the villain in Patnaik through his film ‘Jor Jar Mulak Taara’ that released in 1987. The character that he played as Ranjit remains unforgettable in the audience’ psyche. He has acted in around 36 films, and his negative roles in films like ‘Chaka Akhi Sabu Dekhuchi’, ‘Pua Mora Kala Thakura’, ‘Sahara Jaluchi’, among others, have left an indelible mark in the hearts of his fans.
“Hara was brilliant in every role that he played in films, be it in front of the camera or behind it. I remember him as a very good technician as well,” recalls Patnaik’s drama teacher in Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya and his co-artist in Ollywood, Bijay Mohanty.
Equally popular in television, one of his most successful serials has been ‘Sri Jagannath’ for ‘Tarang’ channel. Till recently, he was doing ‘Mo Jejemaa’ for Zee Kalinga as well.
He made his directorial debut with ‘Daiba Daudi’ in 1990 for which, he had also written the story. The film was a remake of Hindi film ‘Aradhana’. He went ahead to direct 19 films, the last one being ‘Om Sai Ram’.
Battle with Cancer
In 2008, when he was 51, Patnaik was diagnosed with chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. To meet his medical expenses almost every member of the film industry extended support. After a successful battle against blood cancer, Patnaik returned to the industry with ‘Om Sai Ram’ in 2012, in the dual roles of a director and actor.
Godfather to Many
In Ollywood, Patnaik has launched many new faces who have turned superstars like Anubhav Mohanty and Barsha Priyadarshini, Babhushan Mohanty, Arindam Roy, Sabhyasachi Mishra and Gargi Mohanty.
“Both Barsha and I consider ourselves blessed to have been launched by him in Ollywood,” recalls Anubhav, who debuted in movie ‘I Love You’ (2004) opposite Mumbai-based TV actress Namrata Thapa. Barsha, similarly, debuted in Patnaik’s ‘Ae Jugara Krushna Sudama’ in 2003. Sabyasachi was spotted by him during a stage show where he had offered ‘Pagala Premi’ to him. The film made him an overnight star, admits Sabyasachi, adding that it was a life-changing experience for him.
Awards and Accolades
Even as Patnaik ruled hearts of Odia cinema lovers, he never got a State Film Award in his career spanning over two decades. Accolades from socio-cultural organisations have been plenty, though. The actor, however, never complained. President of Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi Dhira Mallick says there is no award in the best villain category in the State Film Awards.
In an interview, Patnaik had once said ‘Without a villain, every story remains incomplete.’ “Without him, the film industry will certainly remain incomplete,” said director Raju Mishra, who groomed the iconic antagonist.