Telling and Showing Cinema: The Odisha Story
Bijay K Danta
OF REELS, ROMANCE AND RETAKES: SOCIAL NARRATIVES OF CINEMA IN ODISHA by By Sanjoy Patnaik Routledge, 2024, 204 pp., INR 995.00
July 2024, volume 48, No 7

Sanjoy Patnaik’s recent book, the first on Odia cinema in English, provides an informed history of cinema in Odisha from its birth in 1936 to the present. The book puts together a unique recipe from Odisha that reflects cinema’s global origins, on the one hand, and links India’s colonial modernity to layered social desires, on the other.

It may be useful to have a look at a passage that outlines Patnaik’s method: the film medium narrates stories that depict events and episodes but not too much explaining why things happened the way they did and how they impacted film making and society in general (p. 12). This is a classic difference between the literary art of telling and the cinematic art of showing. Interestingly, what Patnaik calls ‘the absence of a well-documented story that faithfully narrates the politics and sociology of cinema’ (p. 12), also compels him to tap into oral narratives and personal recollections of events, that is, anecdotes transmitted from one generation to the other.

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