CUTTACK: Veteran Odia actress Anita Das passed away following a cardiac arrest here on Friday morning. She was 67. Akash Dasnayak, actor and nephew of Anita, informed that the 67-year-old had complained of chest pain and vomiting on Thursday night before going to sleep. She woke up with severe chest pain and informed Akash about her health condition. Akash, also an MLA, rushed from Bhubaneswar to her Shelter Chhak residence along with a doctor only to find her dead.
Popular for her supporting roles in several films, Anita had debuted in 1975 in the iconic “Jajabar” which was directed by Akshaya Mohanty, Hemanta Das and Bijay Mishra.
Prominent among her films are Krushna Sudama (1976), Ramayan and Maa-O-Mamata (1980), Swapna Sagara (1983), Pua Mora Kala Thakura (1988), Gadhi Janile Ghara Sundara (1994), Bahudibe Mo Jaga Balia (2003), Sathire (2004), Aama Bhitare Kichhi Achhi (2010), Shapath (2012) and Abhay (2017). She had also acted in TV serials and many devotional music videos.
Members of the Odia film fraternity visited Anita’s house to pay their last respects. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik deeply condoled her death. Remembering her contribution, the CM stated that she will be remembered for her immense contribution to Odia film and TV industry. Her last rites were performed late on Friday night at Swargadwara, Puri.
Veteran Odia actress Anita Das, who took the role of mother to an impressionable level, has left a void in the ollywood which is unlikely to be filled up in near future. She almost took off from where Sujata Anand had left. While both displayed their versatility, Anita took the role to a niche above having high dose of glamour quotient.
Born on October 1, 1951, Anita’s journey in the film industry began after she completed graduation from Ravenshaw University (then a college). As a student, she was active in youth festivals in the university.
Anita was introduced to the film industry in 1975 in the film ‘Jajabara’ by Akshaya Mohanty, Hemanta Das and Bijay Mishra along with other actors like Jayiram Samal, Banaja Das and Tripura Mishra. The actress essayed the character of ‘Sunanda’ in the film.
It was a small role but her acting prowess drew the attention of directors and she soon debuted as lead actress in ‘Krushna Sudama’ opposite Govind Tej. In fact, Anita had acted as the leading lady in over 10 films before she began playing supporting roles.
Film historian Surya Deo said Anita essayed many character roles before she started playing the role of a mother. “There were only two actresses - Sujata Anand and Anita Das - who played the role of mother then. Anita had also tried her hands at comedy in ‘Naga Phasa’,” he said, adding that she was also the only actress who dared to play the leading lady opposite actors double her age. When she was in her 20s, she acted opposite Tej and Sarat Pujari who were in their early 40s. With Tej, she acted in ‘Krushan Sudama’ and opposite Pujari in ‘Akhi Tritiya’.
It was in the 80s that she immortalised the character of a mother with films like ‘Pua Mora Kala Thakura’ and ‘Mamata Mage Mula’. Both the films did extremely well in the box office and earned her the title of a Maa in the film industry.
Her filmography evolved in three phases, said Deo, adding she did many mythological films in the mid-70s and later went on to do films with social messages in supporting roles in the 80s. From then on, she played Maa’s character in all movies that she acted.
She won three State Film Awards and was felicitated by several organisations for her contribution to the film industry. Not just a fine actress, Anita was also a mentor to many juniors, one among them being the very popular Aparajita Mohanty.
For Aparajita, who worked with Anita in several films over the last three decades, Anita was like an elder sister who taught her the craft of acting and other nuances of the industry. “She had carved a niche for herself and her contribution towards Odia film industry is unmatched,” said the actress.
The Odia film industry on Friday mourned the untimely demise of their beloved Maa.
Sritam Das and Siddhant Mohapatra, who played the role of her sons in ‘Bahudibe Mo Jaga Balia’, remembered the veteran as a selfless person who went out of her way to help a fellow actor professionally and personally.
While Anita was last seen in ‘Abhay’ in 2017, she had acted in another movie that is scheduled to release this year. Apart from films, she acted in a number of Odia ‘bhajan’ albums.