Satakadi Hota needs no introduction. A man of many hues, retired bureaucrat, novelist, short-story teller, poet and columnist, he is the Chief Editor of Odia Daily, “The Samaya”. Here the renown litterateur freewheels with Samaya Portal Editor Brahma K. Mohanty about his literary journey and future of Odia literature.
Q. At what age or when did you realize that you can be a litterateur?
Ans. I started writing when I was in Class-8 and my first poem was based on the marriage ceremony of a relative. After that I came in contact with another classmate Narendra Mishra who later became an Odia Professor Viswa Bharati who guided me to write poems. And after writing remained as a practice throughout my life.
Transition: Almost all writers start writing poems in the beginning. My debut as a writer was with a collection of poems-‘Madhuchhanda’.
But after completion of my studies, I appeared at the Civil Services examination and joined the Indian Railways Services.
Though I was writing poems, I could not continue writing poems as the circumstances changed. I started writing novels and short-stories.
Q. What does an award or honour mean for you?
Ans. I have received some awards for my literary success but I have never hankered for awards as I feel that almost all writers write stories, novels and poems according to their choice but never do they write for getting awards. Awards come in the natural course of writing irrespective of wanting it or not.
Q. Do you still use the longhand for writing?
Ans. I depend up on my longhand for writing as that gives much more satisafaction while using words and expressing feelings. What is the relationship between journalism and literature?
Q. Is journalism a part of literature or vice-versa?
Ans. Journalism is not literature nor a story or poem is journalism. Yet they are well connected. Sometimes, a story based on day to day topics, appears to be a report of an event. And a writers picks up that report and adding his/her own imagination creates literature. And also when a journalist write with a creative mind even if it is report, it becomes literature.
Q. You have got so many awards. Which award do you feel still eludes you though you deserve it?
Ans. I never thought of getting awards as a writer though I have been writing for around five decades. It never struck my mind. But some awards were offered and I was happy to receive them.
Q. Why there is a dearth of professional authors/writers/litterateurs in Odia? For, most of our writers come from other professions like lecturers, bureaucrats or engineers etc?
Ans. Writing stories or poems do not pay. A writer cannot maintain himself by only writing stories or poems. Writing does not bring any money unlike in Bengali, Tamil or Kannada literary circles. Odia publishers even do not pay the writers good royalty.
Q. Some writers complain that bureaucrats have hijacked literature in Odisha? You agree or disagree?
Ans. Odisha is a backward state. Those who are god in literature but in other fields they are also writing because writing bring them name and fame though it does not pay them any money. Even the best of writers in Odisha cannot maintain their family as they do not get any royalty from publishers.
That is why several brilliant officers while working do not get proper recognition because of our administrative and political systems take to the pen as it help them earn both name and fame. For, a poet or for that matter a short-story teller even if he is not a very ranking officer get a good name and fame in the society.
Q. Does lobbying really play a role in winning awards?
Ans. To some extent it is true. Yes, it plays a role but to a certain extent.
Q. What is the future of novel? Since these days readers mostly prefer short-stories?
Ans. In Odisha, novels and short-stories influence readers’ mind the most. So sale of a collection of short-stories or novels is much more. Of course, readers prefer short-stories because of paucity of time. Yet, novels will stay. However, independent thinking is getting dwarfed as in Odisha most of the best writers are government employees who cannot openly express their mind or view because of our system.
Q. Why folk songs or good lyrics are dying?
Ans. Folk songs travel beyond circumstances but they create new sensation or emotion in the minds of the listeners. Yes, there is a cultural degeneration. The glaze of lyrics is losing its charm I the resent day circumstances where emotions no longer play a big role as it used to play in the past in the society.
Q. What is the future of Odia literature?
Ans. The future of Odia literature may not be bright if our mother tongue continues to be neglected.
Q. Has electronics media in any way affected Odia literature?
Ans. It has affected because electronics media has influenced life in everyway where as the Odia media(Print) is still left behind in many ways. You will hardly see any 30 minute literature based programme on any channel. There are only serials and serials which hardly depict Odia culture. Most of them are copies of serials of other languages. This is very disturbing.