Odisha dance group to depict Paika Revolt through Malkhamb-Sahi Jata

Bhubaneswar: The Paika Revolt of Khurda will take centre stage at Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav in Odisha capital tomorrow with Fate Fighters from Puri performing ‘Mu Buxi’, an ode to the leader of historic 1847 Khurda rebellion, through dance, drama and Malkhamb.

“We have brought together traditional dance forms of Odisha like Paika and Sahi Jata (folk theatre) and Malkhamb to present an act that tells the story of legendary Buxi Jagabandhu. I am sure it will interest the audience,” said Gyana Ranjan Mohanty, founder of the group.

The group which was formed 11 years ago with 13 members, has now swelled to 130. “There are small temples and akhaadas in Puri where we practised kushti and Malkhamb, an age-old tradition. That was when the idea of doing something new with Malkhamb struck me. I tried it on the beats of music and people joined in,” he said.

Incorporating Odisha’s traditional dance forms for a DDM (dance-drama-malkhamb) performance is what makes it unique, he believes.

Picture Courtesy: Fate Fighters, Puri

“Ours is not a dance group entirely. We practise martial arts including those from Odisha like Badi Khela. Through this amalgamation of dance and martial art forms we choreograph our acts that depict Odisha, its history, art, culture and festivals,” he expressed.

Picture Courtesy: fate Fighters, Puri

At the ‘Odisha Parab’ organized at India Gate in New Delhi last year, Fate Fighters got a standing ovation from the audience for their performance ‘Kotiye Mana, Gotiye Hrudaya’ showcasing different colours and festivals of Odisha. “It set a milestone for us. We have been getting stage shows since then,” he further said.

Picture Courtesy: Fate Fighters, Puri

Gyana is of the opinion that people enjoy short and precise acts more. “People don’t have the patience or time to watch hour-long performances. We try to present an entire story in five minutes, which is why every beat counts and choreography is done accordingly. We discuss ideas to bring out creative ways of telling the tales of our land through dance drama,” he expressed.

Picture Courtesy: Fate Fighters, Puri

Gyana thinks Odisha’s other dance forms need more exposure. “Odisha is a culturally-rich state but selective dance forms are widely promoted. We need opportunities, too,” he added.

They are now working on another piece illustrating the 200 years of Paika rebellion and hope to find a stage to showcase it.

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