Bhubaneswar: For every Odia placed in any part of the world, Akshaya Mohanty’s voice continues to connect them together. The unique talent of legendary singer-composer-writer Mohanty aka Khoka Bhai has mesmerised music lovers across generations. Being the most beloved and discussed personality of Odisha’s entertainment industry, Mohanty’s immortal songs and compositions remain the most heard and revered Odia songs among the younger generation too.
Be it sad, romantic, philosophical or light songs, Mohanty’s voice keeps resonating every nook and corner of Odisha. Songs for every occasion, his indelible mastery over writing and composing songs will remain unmatchable forever. On the occasion of his 82nd birth anniversary Odishabytes spoke to a few eminent personalities from the Odisha music industry.
Trupti Das: Akshaya Mohanty is not only a name, he is a complete music institution. He had identified my talent in singing and trained me to be a better playback singer. At a time when Bengali singers were mostly giving playback for Odia films, he started giving an opportunity to Odia singers. During recording, if he found some words that did not resonate with him, he would change them to give the song a better appeal. His depth of understanding the lyrics made his songs stand out among others. Many of his satirical songs reflect the then social system. All of his songs that I have rendered will be very special to me forever. While travelling together in train for recording or any performance, he used to jokingly count me in the luggage. I feel Odisha has not given him the honour that he deserves.
Shyamamani Patnaik: Todays’s generation knows Akshaya Mohanty as a singer-composer-writer. I will share one of my experiences. We used to do stage programmes together. In 1959, we had travelled from Cuttack to Badabil to perform on the occasion of Bhanja Jayanti. The roads were very bad and we reached tired and late. By that time the public was shouting. While I was singing my first song of the evening on the stage, I noticed Khoka bhai writing something on his palm. When he took the mike, to my surprise, he sang the song he had just penned on his palm, narrating the problems we faced during our journey and seeking some patience from the audience. This is the best example of his in-born talent and spontaneity in music. In Odisha, no one has the ability to assess his creativity.
Sirsananda Das Kanungo: Akshaya Mohanty has received more respect in Odisha after his death. He deserves the highest honour of our country, ‘Padma Shree’. I have no words to describe my 25-year-long association with him. His grip on the various ragas always amazed me. He could do riyaaz alaap standing on the top of Barabati Durg or neck deep in water at Gadgadi ghat. That was the level of his commitment to music. He was a voracious reader, which gave him the depth of understanding while composing a song. His songs, ‘Jajabara’, ‘Nadira nama alasa kanya’, ‘Ja ja re bhasi ja’, ‘Smruti tume’…and many more will remain the favourite of music lovers. While composing a song, we used to spend time together till both of us were satisfied. Sometimes, it took 15 days to compose a song. He used to tell me as people are paying us, our duty is to entertain them. There will never be another Akshaya Mohanty in Odisha.
Geeta Patnaik: Akshaya Mohanty was assisting the legendary Balakrushna Dash during the recording of ‘Adina Megha’, in which I was also singing. He spotted my talent and gave me an opportunity to do playback singing for ‘Sansara’. I got associated with him from then and learnt the nuances of playback singing. He used to write and compose the song in train just before the show. That was the best example of his prowess over music. His composition seems very easy but it requires a lot of balance between emotions and vocal chords when you actually start singing them. Among all, ‘Sabu deepa libhigala pare’, ‘Nadi phere sagaraku’, ‘Phurkina udigala’, ‘Mana mora padma’ are a few of my favourite ones. His exemplary creativity will remain a treasure for Odisha.