Padmashree Bhagaban Sahu, an outstanding dance teacher, actor, singer,
percussionist, director, excperimenter and choreographer made his final exit on
August 12, 2002 . Throughout his life, whenever he gave a performance, he danced
his way into the hearts of the audience irrespective of their nationality and
language and become a celebrity. There by he carved out a place for himself in
the cultural history of Orissa.
Bhagaban Sahu is no more and yet his very much present. This statement may sound
paradoxical. But it is true. Though his mortal remains have been cosumed by
fire, his lofty ideal of keeping alive and enriching the folk dances of Orissa,
especially Ganjam district, continued to be a source of inspiration. The dance
forms he perfected with so much dedication, love and care continue to find
expression through the rhythmic movement of bodies and perfect footwork of his
His long life of eighty years is an amazing story of success, one can't help
wondering about the secret of his success. How could a person born into a
middle-class Oriya Brahmin family become the guest of Queen Elizabeth II ? How
could the individual with formal schooling only up to class VIII rise to the
level of getting admiration of eminent scholars, intellectuals and Political
leaders like Rajendra Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Radha Krishnan, Fakiruddin Ali
Ahemad, Charan Singh Indira Gandhi, Marshal Tito and luminaries in other fields
Isn't it a wonder that the thunderous drum beat of this simple villager, who
spent most of his life in his native place Badakusasthali, reverberated across
the world and made the hearts of the audience in London, Spain, Africa, Syre,
Bhutan, Damascus, Abu Dhabi and New Zealand beat in union with it ?
Bhagaban Sahu's tremendous success can be attributes to two factors. The first
decision to select the road not taken by other. Instade of being satisfied with
just giving performance of acting, he undertake the Herculean task of founding
Kala Vikash Kendra at Narendrapur in1954 and running it efficiently. He took
this grate decision as he had been anguished by the decline of folk dances.
These dances are the spontaneous, powerful expression of the joy and sorrow,
fear and excitement of simple men and women having close ties with mother earth.
Naturally, these colourful dances began to wither and jade in the rapidly
expending concrete jungles of urban society. Moreover, they faced tough
competitions from another new form of mass entertainment, namely cinema.
Therefore Bhagaban sahu, a man of action, didn't waste time in blaming other for
this sad state of affairs or wallowing in self pity. He took quick steps to
inject life into the folk performing arts on the death bed. To him survival of
great culture, tradition was important. Its perpetuation was all the more
important. Hence he decided to train talented youth in folk dance and classical
Bhagaban sahu had great passion for dance, music and drama right from his
childhood. He was a very talented actor who could breathe life into well-known
characters like Kirtivirjya, Kalapahad and Sambarasura. He had founded an open
air theatre group in his youth itself. In adition to all this, he had learnt so
mush, he was bent on producing befitting heirs to this great cultural treasure.
He yearned to hand over all that he mastered in dancing to his successors
undergoing training in Kala vikas dendra. The rigorous rehearsals were a great
labour of love for him. Because of his wonderful vision regarding the folk
dances and hard work day in and day out, Kala Vikas Kendra, the epitome of his
ideals and dreams, obtained recognition (from the central govt. of India) as the
International Dance Training Centre in 1974. It could get catapulted to
International level in just tow decades after its inception in 1954.
Bhagaban Sahu was man of deep strong conviction this was the second factor
responsible for his extraordinary success . his entire life is an excellent
example of his commitment to himself, he never made any sort of compromise as
far as his goal was concerned. Be it giving up his studies or undertaking
strenuous pilgrimage to Ayodhya, varanasi, Mathura, Haridwar, Rishikesh and
Badrinarayan in spiritual quest or founding a theatre group or undergoing
tyraining in gymnastics under the tutelage of guru Sri Radha Syam Das or
organizing a circus party in the thirties or performing dare-devil feats like
stopping a motor car while its engine was running, binding crow bars and riding
motor cycle in a wooden globe popularly known as death well- bhagaban Sahu was
guided purely by his own inner voice.
Each and every project Bhagaban Sahu had undertaken showed his indomitable will
and perseverance. Kala Vikas Kendra being his most favourite brain child, he
nurtured it with great passion, vigour, vitality, enthusiasm and above all
utmost dedication. He had developed tremendous concentration because of his
vigorous trainging in gymnastic and dance as well as regular practice in
mediation. His dedication combined with superb consentration paved the way for
his success in training dances capable of giving excellent performances in folk
performing arts like Ranapa, Chodheya, Gumrah, DaraBhuja Durga, Loudi, Paika,
Jole, Binakar, Panch Badya, Dhumpa, Mridanga Badya.
Of these paika, Chodheya, Ranapa and Rrum dance brought to him recognition at
the national as well as international levels. He become dthe proud receipient of
the president's medal by presenting the vigorous martial dance paika in the
republic Day celebration (1958) in New Delhi . By performing the Drum dance with
extraordinary agility in the Republic Day Celebration (1961) he received special
award from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. His reputation as an artiste reached great
hights when performed Chodheya dance in London before the spell bound audience
and entertained by the Queen in the Royan Palace . Tulasi Samman by Madhya
Pradesh Govt (1985) was another feather inhis cap. This evergreen dancer and
great son of Utkal was honoured by the Central Govt of India with Kendra sangita
Nataka Academy Award (1975)and Padmasri (1992)
Bhagaban Sahu along with his troupe of artistes participated in a large number
of dance festivals, competitions, and programmes. Performing RANAPA dance in
childrens' film and Dance Festival was an important milestone in his career. On
every occasion, Bhagaban Sabu proved his artistic excellence and become the mush
praised and prized artistic.
Bhagaban Sahu brought honour and credit not only to himself but also to Orissa.
The soul of this dear departed will rest in peace only when Kala Vikas Kendra
continues to flowish and his disciples get perpetual guidance from his foot
prints left on the sands of time.