200 rare cassettes of vintage Odisha music damaged beyond repair

Reported by Satya Narayan Rautray
Bhubaneswar, May 29:

Tasked with preservation of rare audio cassettes by the Culture Department of Odisha Government to keep a record of authentic Odia music and make them available to music lovers, the Odisha Sangeet Natak Academy has managed to damage more than 200 such precious audio and video cassettes due to lack of upkeep.

akshaya mohanty

Neither were the cassettes converted to digital form nor were they kept inside air-conditioned chambers to protect them from the vagaries of the weather. Heat and dust took their toll on the tapes and fungus did the rest to damage them beyond retrieval.

Even though the academy managed to retrieve 50-60 odd cassettes from the archive, over 200 video cassettes have been permanently damaged as the tapes have sealed together due to years of neglect.

While the audio cassettes were made available to public for purchase earlier, they have been taken off the display board at the entrance now.

Music cassettes of renowned singers such as Bhikari Bala, Mayurbhanj Jhumar, Bhakti Naibedya, Bhakti Geeta, Madhu Geeti, Bhakta Salabega, Bhima Bhoi Bhajan, Akshay folk, Akshya modern, Shyamamani Debi folk, Pranab Patnaik, Nimain Harichandan etc were made available for sale to the visitors of Odisha Sangeet Natak Academy earlier, but it has been completely stopped now owing to lack of proper records and funds.

If that was not enough, the academy and the government are doing nothing to spread the audio and videos recorded at famous music and dance festivals and other programmes organized by Culture and Tourism Department.

A wide variety of authentic Odia music like Sankirtana, Pala, Laghu Sangeet, Sugam Sangeet, Classical music, plays etc are still being performed at government organized functions like Loka Kala Mohatsava, Konark Mohotsav, Mukteswar Mohatsav, Rajarani Mohotsava etc.

Even though they are videotaped using government funds, no steps are being taken to spread them among the masses. The effort and money spent on recording them are thus wasted while passionate music lovers of the state are left wanting.

“We need funds to sell the cassettes. We will soon start it once a provision is made for it in the budget. We have already retrieved the contents of 50-60 cassettes to CD format, but it is no longer possible to do the same with others as they have been completely damaged. However, some still opine that the audio cassettes can be converted to CD format,” said secretary of the academy Dhirendra Nath Mallick.

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