Kabichandra Kalicharan Patnaik
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Personalities of Odisha – Kabichandra Kalicharan Patnaik

Kabichandra Kalicharan Patnaik was born in 1898 on 23rd December in the Badamba princely state of Odisha. He got education from Adama Vernacular School and Banki Middle English School. After his education in Banki, he entered into Khurda High School. After matriculation he started higher education in 1916 in Ravenshaw College Cuttack, but untimely death of his father in 1919 put a stop to his further educational career.After that Kalicharan Patnaik began his service career as a Sub-inspector of Schools at Khandapara and in Ganjam.

Personalities of Odisha - Kabichandra Kalicharan Patnaik
Personalities of Odisha – Kabichandra Kalicharan Patnaik – Art by Saswat Debadutta

Kabichandra Kalicharan Patnaik combines in him the qualities of a creative artist and a scholar and while he himself has been an actor, dancer and a musician. He was worked as editor of ‘Utkal Dipika‘ for some months. He was also the Assistant editor of ‘Mukura’. In 1922 He went to Mayurbhanja to work under Maharaja Pratap Chandra Bhanja. A Natya Group appeared in Mayurbhanj under his guidance. After his marriage he came to Puri and became a musician and confidential advisor of Puri Raja Ramachandra Deb. There he also edited weekly ‘Puribasi’.He also published ‘PuriSangitaPrabha‘ first time as a monthly musical magazine. In 1925 during his stay in Puri he started a Rasa party to introduce newness in Odishi music and plays.

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From 1926 to 1939 Rasalila of Kalicharan had captivated popular attention and thereafter he diverted towards social and historical plays. He established in 1939 the ‘Orissa Theatres‘ in Cuttack which was the first professional Odia Theatre Company. He also been associated for nearly three decades with a large number of cultural and academic institutions. He was the Vice-President of the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi.

He has written many mythological and social plays which have been very popular on the Oriya stage. He has also written poems and several collections of his verses have been published. 

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His plays include ‘BanaBihara’, ‘KautukaChintamani’,’Vidyabati’,’KishoreChandranandaChampu’,’SriGitaGovinda’, ‘PritiSudhakara’, ‘Manini’, ‘Lakshmi’, ‘Dhurba’, ‘Mrigaya’, ‘Sakuntala’, ‘Harischandra’, ‘Pratisodha’, ‘Girls` School’, ‘Ahuti’, ‘Paribarttana’, ‘AkhiraDekha’, ‘Chumbana’, ‘Banamala’, ‘Atibadi Jagannatha Dasa’, ‘Abhijana’, ‘Chakri’, ‘Bhaata’ and many others. In the scholarly field. 

His most significant contribution is the editing of several rare manuscripts in Oriya on music, dance and drama. Some of these edited manuscripts are ‘Ragachitra and ‘AbhinayaDarpanaPrakasha’.

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His other books on music are ‘Sapta Swari’ and ‘Suralekha’. His Oriya translation of ‘Gitagovinda’ has been highly acclaimed. He also wrote his autobiography titled ‘Kumbharachaka’. He was also associated with Odia movies like ‘Lalita (1949)’ and ‘SriJagannatha(1950)’ as he was a singer and music composer and director there.

In 1958 he attended the All india nrutyasangitasammilani in Delhi and there he presented a focus on Odishi dance. Thereafter he wrote this discourse presenting several new theories that articulated Odia’s identity.His discourse on ‘Odishi Dance (1958)’ is a famous work on the development of Odishi which presents new ideas. 

He visited different conferences to establish that Odissi, as a music, is not just classical but is very different from both Hindustani and Carnatic music.He named Odissi. David Denen, an American scholar, who has done extensive research on naming of Odissi, has concluded, after referring to half a dozen scholars, that it was Kalibabu who named Odissi. And the name itself was a master stroke. Not only did it secure its Odia connection forever, but it also created a classical aura for it, which would not have been in a generic adjective like Odia.’OdishiSangitaPrakash’ was another lasting contribution to Odishi music.

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‘Kabichandra Kalicharan Pattnaik Rachana Samagra’, a digital compilation by Srujanika of Bhubaneswar which contains files and folders on his writings, letters, manuscripts as well as his collected works in the nature of plays, bhajans, jananas and children songs. 

Kabichandra Kalicharan Pattnaik has been a pioneer in the revival of the performing arts in Odisha. He has trained many artists in all three fields. In 1944,He received the title of ‘Kabichandra’ from the Gajapati Maharaja, Puri in recognition of his poetic talent. Utkala Sahitya Samaj had also conferred him with the ‘Natyacharya’ title. In 1977 Kendra Sahitya Academy had awarded to him. 

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By A P Subhakanta Samal

Teacher, Proud Odia. Passionate about History and heritages of Odisha. Founder and Chief editor of Shubhdristi (ଶୁଭଦୃଷ୍ଟି), A bi-monthly Odia e magazine and literature portal.