Jagatsinghpur: Basanti Apa of the renowned Annapurna B theatre group of Odisha is merely a tea seller now. Once upon a time an auditorium full of audience were getting mesmerised watching the performance of this great actress, but now the customers who visit Basanti Apa’s small tea shop for a cup of tea are hardly bothered to know who she was. A report.
Sagarbala Pattanaik, the theatre actress of the very prestigious Annapurna B Theatre group of Cuttack is popularly known as Basanti Apa. Annapurna B group is a renowned theatre group of the yester years in Odisha that had earned much glory for its theatre productions. People have a special respect for the artists of this group for their theatrical talent. During the golden days of this very popular and prestigious Drama group Basanti Apa used to perform in the lead roles in many of its plays.
Basanti Apa originally hails from Makarpur under Anla panchayat in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha. However, after long years she is in the news because the theatre actress is these days making and selling tea in a small shop in a village to earn her livelihood.
Basanti Apa has acted in more than 1000 plays during her stint in the Annapurna B group. Besides, she has also acted in films. In 1965 when she joined Annapurna B group in Cuttack the society was much conservative as compared to today’s time. However, the determined actress took all the pain, faced the people who opposed her and became a theatre actress. Her character in the role of Sili in the play ‘Bhanumatira Khela’ and the character Sarobati in the play ‘Debadutta’ were very popular across Odisha. She was active in the theatres in the seventies and eighties.
When it comes to the big screen, she played the character, mother of Sania in popular Odia film ‘Sesha Shrabana’. And it was a big hit then. Yet, today the actress is selling tea.
Apart from this there were many other tragic episodes in Basanti Apa’s life. After death of her husband Babaji Charan Pattanaik, she returned to the village and shouldered responsibility of her family. She took care of the marriage of two of her younger sisters and also nourished her father and mother.
Later, her parents died. Her only son has turned almost mad following an accident. Hence, now responsibility of Basanti Apa is to nourish her daughter-in-law and two granddaughters and the ailing son. Of course, she is getting 5 kg rice and Rs 1200 per month from the government. However, sometimes these are also not available.
World Theatre Day was observed recently. It is being discussed now that extending a helping hand towards the 73 year old theatre artist of the yester years will be the true celebration of this special day.