BHUBANESWAR/SAMBALPUR: Minent actor Atal Bihari Panda breathed his last on Saturday while undergoing treatment at Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR) in Burla. He was 92.
The ‘Sala Budha’ fame actor of Binika under Subarnapur district debuted in the Odia film industry at the age of 82 a decade back but instantly impressed filmmakers, critics and audience alike. He was under treatment for septicemia at VIMSAR for the last 10 days.
Panda, a stage actor and scriptwriter by profession, hit the limelight when he was appreciated for his role in Sabhyasachi Mohapatra’s ‘Sala Budha’ in 2013. The film was screened at the International Film Festival of India(IFFI). He also bagged the Best Actor Award for the film.
Panda went on to do Mohapatra’s ‘Adim Bichar’ and ‘Sala Budhar Badla’ which were also screened at IFFI and appreciated by one and all. Prior to ‘Sala Budha’, he had done a 45-minute tele-film ‘Dangar Tale Dambaru Baba’ on tribal communities in Odisha for Doordarshan.
Apart from several awards, he was also conferred with honorary D.Litt degree during the 30th convocation of the Sambalpur University in 2019. Having acted in over 100 plays apart from writing 63 dramas and six operas both in Odia and Koshali language, he was a popular face in the regional drama scene.
His stint with drama began at the age of 12 when he was in Class VIII of Sonepur High School. He was selected to play the role of ‘Sabya Rani’ in ‘Raja Harish Chandra’ then. Since then, drama was a part of his life. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan besides, members of the film and theatre fraternity condoled Panda’s demise.
“He will always be remembered for his commendable acting in films like ‘Sala Budha’ and Aadim Bichar’. His demise is an irreparable loss for the Odia art fraternity”, the Chief Minister tweeted. His last rites were performed at Baikuntha Ghat in Burla on Saturday.