Multitalented Odia writer Dr Iti Samanta
Despite being deemed the harbingers of good luck, eunuchs are often treated with disdain in the society. They are somehow labeled as different humans. Thankfully, this is not the story for everybody. Some people think the other way and they want that transgenders should be treated equally in society. Dr. Iti Samanta from Odisha is one such person.
To grant deserving social status to transgenders, Dr Iti Samanta came up with a TV show titled ‘Bhinna Manisha Bhinna Katha’. This is the first-ever TV show in India that depicts the struggle of the third gender.
The show successfully completed 50 episodes. It was being aired every Monday at 9.30 PM in Odisha’s premier Television channel Kalinga TV. The format of the show was – one transgender would interview another. ‘Bhinna Manisha Bhinna Katha’ was the brainchild of Dr. Iti Samanta. She wanted the show to be hosted by transgenders because both, the interviewer and the interviewee are the victim of the same agony, social apathy.
Not only the renowned transgenders of Odisha like Mira Parida, Aishwarya Pradhan or Sadhana Mishra were featured in the show, but the talk show also presented the emotional tale of renowned transgender and transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi from Maharastra, who is well known in Bollywood.
Multitalented Dr. Iti Samanta is the editor of Odisha’s highest circulated monthly family magazine Kadambini. Not only in TV show Dr Iti had raised voice for the transgender community well before. She dedicated a complete issue of Kadambini to transgenders. Dr Iti herself wrote a few articles to seek justice for transgender persons in the March 2017 issue of Kadambini. She wrote the long but hearty editorial feature that conveyed some untold stories about transgender persons. Both, the TV show ‘Bhinna Manisha Bhinna Katha’ and the issue of ‘Kadambini’ have been widely applauded by the audience and readers far and wide.
Dr. Iti Samanta is a Writer, Editor, Publisher, Director, National Award Winning film Producer, Interviewer, Social Worker, reputed Television show Producer, Interviewer and Designer in one line.
Poet, novelist, and storyteller Dr. Iti Samanta is the President of Odisha based Kadambini Media and editor of Odia monthly magazine for kids, ‘Kuni Katha’.
Dr. Iti Samanta occupies a significant position in contemporary Odisha. Writing is her first love. She began writing from childhood. Among the many genres, her prime choice is ‘Women’. Her literary works are mainly on women empowerment and gender-related issues.
Dr. Samanta has rediscovered various facets of Hindu mythological characters portrayed in the great epics like ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’.
Her first book ‘Tathaapi’ is a collection of short stories published in 2001. Since then, she never looked back. In a literary carrier of more than twenty five years she has written and published more than 20 books. And all her books have received rave reviews.
Dr. Iti Samanta was born in 1970 in the village Kalarabanka in Cuttack district in the state of Odisha. Born to Nilimarani Samanta and Anadi Charan Samanta she is the youngest of the seven siblings in the family. Her father passed away when she was merely four months old.
The family was not well to do. And hence it was too difficult for her family to support her education. In fact, she was brought up by her mother amidst abject poverty and sticky social challenges. Yet, poverty could not deter her from getting educated.
Dr. Iti Samanta pursued her primary education in the village school at Kalarabanka. Later she shifted to Cuttack and passed the High School Certificate Examination from Khan Nagar High School. She completed her intermediate from Ramadevi Women’s College, Bhubaneswar. And then she joined Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering.
However, Iti had a strong bent towards writing. Accordingly, after completion of the engineering degree altered her stream and enrolled herself for a Post Graduate Degree in Odia Literature. Later, she also earned a Master’s Degree in Mass Communications and Advanced Journalism from Utkal University, Odisha. Later on, she did her Ph.D. in literature from Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan.
Dr. Iti also is the proud recipient of the Junior and Senior Fellowship from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
Awards and Achievements
Dr. Iti Samanta has been conferred with many awards for excellence in editing. Major among them are — Bagmi Biswanath Kar Sampadana Samman – 2019 (Utkal Sahitya Samaja, Cuttack), Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhabana Award – 2008 (Best Woman Editor), Prananatha Samman – 2006 (Best Editor), Best Editor Award – 2004 (State Social Welfare Advisory Board, Bhubaneswar) and Rajiv Gandhi Award – 2002 (Best Woman Editor).
Dr. Samanta has received the Rajadhani Pustakmela Puraskar – 2019 for her novel ‘Shakuntalara Jhia’ in the Creative writing category.
The novel ‘Shakuntalara Jhia’ (2017) (Daughter of Shakuntala) depicts the life and struggle of a single parent (mother) for the upbringing and educating her daughter. Dr Iti narrates the pathos of struggling women in her writings. This novel is one of that. Sakuntala, the protagonist of the novel, is a strong-willed woman. She boldly denies to put name of her daughter’s father (her husband) in the school admission register. Her point is that her child should not be recognized by the name of the person who didn’t want even birth of the child. Further, he has not any contribution towards her upbringing. So, there is no point her daughter should be recognizes by her father’s name.
For creative writing, Dr. Samanta has also received many other awards including Bhanja Bharati Jayadev Sarangi Memorial Award – 2017, Ama Bhubaneswar Samman – 2017, Akshaya Mohanty Sahitya Samman – 2013 and the Rajadhani Pustak Mela Puraskar – 2013 (for story collection ‘Iti Tora Lipsa’).
Besides, Dr. Iti has received many other awards for overall performances. These include Nilachakra Samman – 2016, Chinta O Chetana, Bhubaneswar, Professional Excellency Award – 2004 (All India Small and Medium Newspaper Editors, Odisha Branch) and the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhawana Award – 2003 (Best Family Feature Magazine ‘Kadambini’)
Dr. Iti Samanta has conveyed her heart not only in literary writings. Rather she has produced films that have received both State and National awards. Her film ‘Kathantara’ received the National Award for Best Film production (Rajat Kamal) in 2006. The film also bagged the Mohan Sundar Deb Goswami Award in 2005 (Odisha State Film Award). Dr. Iti Samanta’s short story ‘Jhada Parara Surya’ has been filmed in the title of ‘Kathantara’. The short story ‘Jhada Parara Surya’ is one of the stories from her book ‘Iti Tora Lipsa’. The script is on woman liberation. The film garnered much appreciation from readers and critics. It’s strong storyline and poetic narratives compel the readers to go through it. The film was directed by Himanshu Sekhar Khatua, a national award-winning director.
Dr. Iti also penned story of another film titled ‘Krantidhara’ for which she bagged many awards. The film received Mohan Sundar Deb Goswami Award – 2014 (Odisha State Film Award for best feature film ‘Krantidhara’) and Odisha State Film Award for Best Story Writer – 2014 (for ‘Krantidhara’).
‘Krantidhara’ (Coup de Grace, 2014) deals with the travails of a much-harried yet consideration housewife, but through the realistic presentation as opposed to the hackneyed, stereotyped portrayals.
In this film Pratignya, the protagonist is the proverbial daughter-in-law that anyone could aspire for. In a family of half a dozen individuals, the entire home-front is taken care of by her with diligence and compassion. Apart from the elderly parents-in-law and two primary school-going children; a boy and a girl, Pratignya, in her early thirties, has the onerous task to reform her unscrupulous husband, Abhay, the local Sarpanch although he is inclined to heckle and even manhandle his wife. This story of Dr. Iti Samanta was again on the plight of women.
‘Krantidhara’ was screened in many international film festivals like the 7th Bengaluru International Film Festival-2014, Bengaluru; Selected in the Indian Panorama Section of 12th Chennai International Film Festival-2014, Chennai and 13th Third Eye Asian Film Festival-2015, Mumbai.
Dr. Iti Samanta’s other work Kahani Nuhen received the Odisha State Tele Film Award – 2013. The film is based on her own story.