He is perhaps the only journalist in Odisha who has not only dared but has fluently reported in English, Hindi as well as Odia language. He is one of the few journalists who has admirably executed his responsibilities in the print as well as the Electronic media for the last few decades. Now the writer in him is buzzing with creativity. And knowing Prasanta Patnaik, it doesn’t come as a surprise that in this medium of expression too he is a standout and leaving his indelible mark.
Senior Correspondents of Odisha News Insight had a tete-a-tete with Prasanta Patnaik at his very residence a week after his new book got published. A regular columnist in a number of newspapers, Patnaik’s “Mo Drushti Re”, regularly published in ‘Suryaprabha’ had been a brilliant effort from the veteran and it was fantastically well received by the people from all strata of the society. Now Patnaik has come up with a book in form of compilation of the seventy best pieces of ‘Mo Drushti Re’.
Patnaik was working with ETV followed by a long stint with India TV and took Electronic journalism to a new height as far as reporting from Odisha is concerned. Currently, he is working as the Editor of Sanchar Daily. But interestingly it was his grandson, a High school student, who openly questioned his grandfather as to what he was leaving behind for posterity’s sake. “What will your children, grandchildren and future generation of Odisha remember you by?”, was the open question put by his grandchild, who also suggested to awaken a writer in him. It all started with short stories written exclusively for keeping in his grandson’s school library. But it was so well received that it egged Patnaik on to dabble in full time writing. He resigned from India TV. Interestingly, his resignation letter was also framed by his grandson. Coming to know his future plan and intention, Rajat Sharma also duly accepted his resignation. This ended his two decade-long stint with Electronic media and Prasanta Patnaik ‘the writer’ was born.
His collection of features, small stories and poems were the first to come out in form of books. But this effort was the closest to his heart. ‘Mo Drushti Re’ is unique in the sense that Patnaik does a commentary on a wide array of subjects from political, social life, lifestyle of people, maladies plaguing the society, problems of the media, amongst others. The compilation in the form of a book gives a deep insight into the society and the present situation in general and it is a gripping read due to the sensitive handling of each issue as well the lucid yet critical form in which they have been put forth. Sharing his thoughts about his own book, Shri Patnaik confesses that human interest stories and themes are his favourite topic.
Prasanta Patnaik himself feels very happy and satisfied with his book and the initial response to it. Moreover, it has fuelled in him the desire to continue his good work. An open query by this Correspondent was met with an open answer—-“Yes, you can surely expect more books from me in future. In fact two of my books are in the pipeline. One is titled ‘Trinayan (Third Eye)’ and the other is called ‘Sidha Katha (Straight Talk)’. Surely, his ardent readers will be very gladdened to know this.
Mr. Prasanta Patnaik has worked with various web portals, news agencies, Television channels and print media. Today, he is one of the most respected figures of the fourth estate in Odisha. But the man himself is far from satisfied with the state of affairs in the media today. “We are merely going through a war of TRP. It has all boiled down to just highlighting juicy stories today. Journalists and writers will analyse Draupadi in hundred ways but are insensitive to a brutal rape case that has happened near to home. When I was in Electronic media, I remember our News Bureau in Delhi asking for the description of the rape victim before accepting to take the story. If the girl or woman in question is young or good looking, then the story would become juicy….if it involved any nondescript tribal girl, then there was a ‘who bothers’ kind of attitude. I do not have to comment but from the ownership pattern of the media houses in Odisha today, one can easily make out whether the media is impartial or completely prejudiced. Sorry, this is not the journalism that I believe in”, laments Patnaik.
Prasanta Patnaik is the son of a great Communist leader, Raghunath patnaik, who was not only a true freedom fighter but also amongst the founders of the Communist party in the pre-Independence days. So it is not a surprise that Patnaik himself is an out an out believer in true Marxist ideologies. His writing prowess got expression right from his student days when he did his Graduation and Post Graduation from the famous Ravenshaw College. The making of a great journalist and writer got rolling at that time itself when Patnaik came up with series of poems and short stories that won critical acclaim.
However, he also saw many ups and downs. Perhaps one of the closest persons to former CM, late Biju Patnaik, he was subjected to unceremonious political atrocities during the Congress regime due to which he and his family had to go through turbulent times. His respect , admiration and love for Biju Patnaik is still manifest in his words but in general he feels that “politics is the last resort of scoundrels”. The present Govt and the state of democracy in Odisha today also saddens Patnaik. “There is a very unhealthy state of democracy prevailing in Odisha today”, he blatantly comments.
The News Insight not only respects the ideals of this fantastic scribe and writer but also wishes him all the best in his future writing assignments. We wish and pray that he fulfills all the expectations of his fans and readers with more such works, rich in literary value and opening new windows to visualize life.
** Shri Prasanta Patnaik was interviewed by TNI’s Senior Correspondents Sandeep Banerji and Hemanta Pande.