A Born Singer
Born in November 1936 at Baripada, (Mayurbhanj, Odisha) to Late Ramesh & Saudamini Mohapatra, Santanu Mohapatra learnt classical and traditional vocal music from Sangeet Narayan Banchhanidhi Panda from the age of 5 and was ready for public performances at State Level Competitions, when he was just 9 years old.
He created a storm as a child prodigy during the All Orissa Music Competitions organized by the “Utkala Sangeet Samaja”, Cuttack, by bagging the Best Singer Trophy for consecutive 4 years (singing Dhrupad,Khayaal,Odissi,Champu & Bhajan). He won the adoration of great Sangeet Guru’s of Cuttack & Puri those days, like Khitish Ch.Moitra, Singhari Shyam Sundar Kar, Shyam Sundar Das, Balakrushna Das, Kshetramoham Kar, M.M.Sabat, among others. Veterans of Cuttack and other Sangeet Guru’s still remember his prodigious performances during those years at Ramachandra Bhaban, Cuttack. Simultaneously, taking his learning forwards, he also learnt a wide range of Bengal & Hindi songs from records and the radio.
1952-1957:Initiation Into Modern Music (Kolkata & I.I.T., Kharagpur)
During his higher studies at Ashutosh College, Kolkata (Inter-Science) and at IIT, Kharagpur, West Bengal (Master Degree in Applied Geology & Geophysics) he joined IPTA (Indian People’s Theatrical Association) to learn the art & technique of Choral Singing and Composing Music, under the famous Poet-Composer, Salil Chaudhury (Jana-Jaagaran Sangeet). He learnt more than 50 chorus songs in Bengali & Hindi there and taught many of those to youth-groups at Baripada, Kharagpur, Kolkata and Cuttack. During this period he studied and learnt Bengal’s unique and varied musical formats, from Rabindra Sangeet to Sugam; from the ‘Baul’, ’Boatmen’s Songs’, ‘Shyama Sangeet’ to the ‘Kirtan’ and ‘Janajaagaraner Gaan’ (based on realities of and struggle for Life).
Shantanu Mohapatra composed the first ever Modern Ballad Song in Odia (“Konark Gaatha” sung by Akshaya Mohanty), the story of construction of the Konark Sun Temple and the sacrifice of a young temple builder boy “Dharamaa”. This ballad earned Akshaya Mohanty overnight fame in 1955. History was repeated with “Kaali Jaai” by Sikandar Alam in the early sixties.
The first ever modern Lullaby (non-traditional) in Odia, “Soi Pada Rey Dhana” (sung by Smt. Shantilata Rout of Cuttack A.I.R in 1959-60) made history (penned by Jiban Pani).
He introduced the legendary Lata Mangeshkar, Md.Rafi & Manna Dey into Odia film Playback in “Suryamukhi” (1963) and “‘Arundhati” (1967) for the first time. The music of these two films is considered as milestones for Odia films.
He Composed hundreds of Odia Modern Songs for A.l.R. Cuttack, sung by leading singers of the day including Raghunath Panigrahi, Akshyay Mohanty, Pranab Kishore Patnaik, Md. Sikandar Alam, Bina Debi, Bhubaheswari Misra, Jena Sisters, Swarupa Chakraborty, lndrani Mishra and many other rising vocalists like Radhagobinda Patnaik and others.
1967-1980: The Flowering & Experimentations (‘A’ denotes ART Film)
Besides composing hundreds of songs and scoring Music for about 10 ‘Jatra’s (Folk Theatre) and 60 Odia Dramas, he scored music for many Odia, Bengali and Hindi Feature films which won both Regional and National Awards.
Those films include Chilika Teerey, Priyatamaa, Agni Parikshya, Meghamukti, Seeta Raati (A), Jiban Sangram in Odia language; Mahaaprithibi (Bengali) (A) and SHODH (Hindi) (A) which won the Golden Lotus Award in 1979 – the first Hindi feature film produced from Odisha, (Om Puri’s Debut in a main Role) (The only Song in the Film “Bhoot Kharidengey Koi Bhoot Bechegaa” became synonymous with the Film’s theme overnight) and became very popular all over India.
1980-1993: The lead Role in Realistic Cinema & Non Film Music
He continued scoring Music for many Commercial & Art films in Odia (Dora, Jagabalia, Golam Giri, Klaanta Aparaanha(A), Niraba Jhada(A), Kichhi Smruti Kichhi Anubhuti (A), Bhangaa Silata(A), Majhi Paahaacha(A), Vinna Samaya(A), Mukti Tirtha, Pathara Khasuchi Bada Deulu, Ranabhumi). Most of the Lead Playback Singers of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and his own State have sung under his Baton during this period.
Though Dr. Shantanu Mohapatra’s laurels are endless and he has innumerable shining moments, some significant ones are listed here:
- He has been a Senior and Top Grade Composer for the Akashvani for over 20 years and Odisha Doordarshan, right from its inception.
- He scored the music in 1983 for the first ever Odia Telefilm “Maamu” adopted from the classic by Fakir Mohan Senapati and for the first time in this film, he composed Hindi songs in typical Odishi style (Director-Famous Dramasist & Actor :-Anant Mohapatra ).
- He is the first to experiment with Padmashree llleana Citeristi (the Italian-Indian Odishi and Chhow Danseuse) with Dance Ballets like “PANCHA-BHUTA” & MARTIAL DANCE BALLET (for the “Dhauli Festival” combining Chhow and Thaang Taa (Manipuri Martial Art Formats).
- First Odia Composer to have Composed Geet & Ghazals for Doordarshan, Delhi in Hindi during the80’s.
- The First Music Director to work in films in five languages:Odia, Hindi, Bengali, Assamese and Telugu.
- He has worked with luminaries from Bengal like Sunil Gangopadhyay the eminent Literateure (Film: Radha-Krishno),Buddhadeb Das Gupta (Film: Bagh Bahadur (Hindi),Aparna Sen Ouganto) & Biplab Ray Choudhuri ‘Mahaprithibi’ (Bengali) as a Music Director. He also scored the Music for Aranya Rodan, Nirbaachan (Odiaa) for Biplab Roy Choudhury the Versatile Director & Editor.
- He has been a Member of the Local Audition Board, Cuttack Akashvani for last 18 yeas; Central Audition Board for Sugam Sangeet for last five years (Delhi).
- He composed the first ever TV Programmes on Vedic Incantations for DD Odisha duly guided by Smt Sanno Debi -the VEDA Specialist.
Special Dance Ballets / Jaatraa’s:
- For Child Artists of BBSR Kala Kendra based on Nature,Animal World and Science Fiction.
- 3 for Padmshree llleana Citeristi (Chhow, Thaang Taa of Manipur and Karpass in Odishi Styles).
- 1 for Padma bibhusan Kelucharan based on ‘Taasher Desh’ of R. N. Tagore.
Cassettes & CDs
36 Albums (other than films) covering a wide range of themes, from the Devotional in Odia, Hindi and Bengali Languages, to the Folk, Traditional, Patriotic and the Modern including Child Right songs for the UNICEF and a special CD “SETU (The Bridge)” for the Odia Society of America
The most significant ones include: Kabir & Nanak Bhajans (Odia, Hindi & Punjabi), Achyutaananda Bhajans (Odia and Hindi), Songs on Child Right of the differently Abled, Jagannath Bhajans (Hindi & Odia for T-Series, Mumbai, 1986 onwards). His latest Choral Composition for the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi based on the theme of Sepoy Mutiny and Indian Freedom Struggle was adjudged the Best among all the others composed by Leading Music Composers of the State.
A.l.R. & T.V.(Cuttack and Bhubaneswar)
- First “Music Trainer for modern Music in Akashavani, Cuttack.(1968 onwards) for 5 years.
- Composed prestigious musical programmes like “Anjali”, “Sajaphula” & “Raaga Manjari” of A.l.R. Cuttack and “Sangeet , Sandhyaa”, “Juaara”, “Sugam Sangeet” Programmes of Doordarshan with all the leading artistes of the State.
Features & Short Films (Odia)
- “Aranya Rodana” (A) & , “Nirbaachana” (A) by Director Biplab Rai Chaudhuri (both Regional Award winners).
- “Suki “(A) (award winner) by Sabyasachi Mohapatra (Mumbai) in Hindi.
- Child in a Dead City” (Telugu) (A) directed by Kutumba Rao for Tarangini Films Hyderabad and “Amulyam” (2007) by the same Director. Both the Films won the best children’s film award from N.F.D.C.
Telefilms, Documentaries, T V Serials & Biographical Films:
- “Koilee” (for films Division) in Odia.
- “Maayaa”(A) (For Satya Mohanty of Calcutta Doordarshan) in Odia .
- “Vyarth Nisith” and “Lachhmaa” (Hindi) (A) Tarangini Films Hyderabad.
- Fakir Mohan ‘s “Maamu” (Hindi) by Ananta Mohapatra.
- “8 Episode Comedy Serial” (Hindi) Tarangini Films, Hyderabad.
- Biographical Short Film on Dr. Radhanath Rath (Award Winner) and 6 Documentary Films for Ghanashyam Mohapatra (f ilm Maker) on Industries.
- “Rajasaheb” (A) & Nlntezaar”(A) by Manmohan Mohapatra (Hindi).
- “Rebati” of Fakir Mohan :Telefilm by Ananta Mohapatra (Odia).
- Short Film on Fakir Mohan Senapati by Prof Manica Das (Odia) (Delhi).
- “Muhurta”:by Monmohan Mahapatra (Odia).
- Ek Thaa Rasti (Hindi) based on Ruskin Bond Story) directed by Subhdarshini Singh of Delhi (Children ‘s Film).
- His last Odia Feature Film released in 2010 was “Tume Hin Saathi Mora”.
Artists worked with:
- MUMBAI: Lata Mangeskar, Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey, Usha Mangeskar, Anuradha Paudwal, Babul Supriyo, Munna Aziz, Abhijeet, Kavita Krishnamurty, Suresh Wadekar.
- KOLKATA: Nirmlala Mishra, Usha Utthup,Sipra Bale, Haimanti Shukla, Arundhati Home Choudhury & Anand Kumar.
- CHENNAI: S.Janki.
- ODISHA:Over 80 Voices covering all the leading male and female singers like Pt Raghunath Panigrahi, Akhsyay Mohanty, Pranab Kishore Patnaik Md. Sikandar Alam,Prafulla Kar, Ghanshyam Panda, Arjun Samal, Asha Mukul , D. Tripathy, Bhikari Bala, Chitta Jena besides versatile singers like Debasish Mahapatra, Lopita Mishra, Trupti Das and lndrani Mishra, Bhubaneswari Mishra, Sangeeta Gosain, Mitali Chinara, Shailabhama, Swarupa Chakrabarty Saurav Nayak, Mousumi Das, Jhumki Rath, Mahaprasad Kar, Mausmi Mishra, Parthasarathi Panigrahi, Tapu Mishra, Siddhartha Mishra, Bijay Jena,Bijay Misra, Geeta Mohanty, Anjali Mishra, Lata Ghose, Naazia Alam, Sur Sarita Rout among many others.
Achievements at a Glance
- Total Songs Tuned: Odia, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Assamese, Sanskrit -More than 1900.
- Total Tally: over 53 Films (Feature,Tele & Docu & Biog; 64 Drama’s 10 Jatra’s, (folk Theatre).
- 36 Music Cassettes/CD.
- 39 Lac Records (Discs).
- Dance Drama (+ 10) and Now ‘BARNA-BODHA’ (The Fundamental Odia Vernacular/ Grammar) converted to a Rhyme Format for the First time.