The first Oriya film was made in the year 1934 simultaneously with the emergence of Talkie cinema in the world. In the first four decades i.e. between 1934 and 1976 only 44 feature films were made in Oriya. The reasons of this low rate of production can be attributed to two major factors, (1) lack of finance from organized or govt. sectors and (2) lack of sufficient exhibition outlets. The state Govt. came up with the solution and declared filmmaking and construction of cinema theatres as industry in the state in the year 1974. The Orissa Film Development Corporation Ltd. was established as the nodal agency in 1976 for all round development of Oriya cinema and thereafter the film sector in the state took the shape of an industry. Due to successful implementation of various schemes by the state Govt. through OFDC, the state saw a definite growth for the film industry and from 1980 to 2010 i.e. in just 30 years, the state could produce about 600 Oriya feature films and thousands of documentaries apart from providing infrastructure for production of films in Bengali, Asameese, Manipuri, Chhatisgarhi and Bhojpuri languages. The state had also earned its share of honour by receiving few National and International awards for Oriya films.
The state film industry constitutes the following sectors.
- Production: where approximately 50 active and more than 10 other productions are enlisted.
- Infrastructure: apart from Kalinga Studios Ltd. and Prasad Kalinga Film Laboratories Ltd., about fifteen other private infrastructure setups are enlisted.
- Exhibition: Though there were more than 280 permanent and temporary cinema houses registered, the number reduced to 140 soon after the super cyclone of 1999. At present only about 100 cinema houses are in operation.
- Distribution: only about 50 distribution units are working in the state.
- Technical Education: The Biju Pattnaik Film & Television Institute of Orissa, a film and television training institute have been established by the State Govt. at Cuttack in the year 1992 to produce trained professionals in the field of film and television sector.
Apart from the above many peripheral industries like Publicity, Printing Industries, Costume makers etc. and a vast pool of artistes and technicians are enlisted. The total financial investment for this industry in the state has been estimated to be around Rs.125.00 crores in various sectors, having direct employment of 50,000 persons and indirect employment of 2,00,000 persons. The employment includes industry consisting of film and television taken together.
The Oriya film industry serves few major purposes. In addition employing a vast number of people and providing entertainment for the viewers, it serves a major cause of preserving the cultural ethos of the Oriya people and balances the social fabrics.
Orissa was the first state to declare the film making as an industry. As the filmmaking and cinema houses were included in the industries list by the state govt., a remarkable growth was made during the 1980s and early 1990s.
The Oriya film industry was devastated due to Super cyclone of 1999 and since then the film industry passed through a difficult/critical time. A number of reasons have been attributed to the downfall of Oriya film industry and closing down of cinema houses like dropping of audience, higher rate of entertainment tax, non-availability of Oriya films, and easy availability of pirated Hindi film CDs, TV network, high electricity tariff etc. The rural cinema houses were very much dependant on Oriya films as the Hindi films are quickly available for the viewers by other means. Many states have now separate laws for screening / exhibition of films on television screen through VCR / CD players.
The exhibition sector requires special focus as the exhibition outlets are decreasing day by day due to poor maintenance of the theatres resulting failure to attract audience.
The Orissa Film Development Corporation Ltd.
The OFDC was incorporated in April 1976 and accelerated its activities in the year 1979-80. So far the corporation has financed about 150 nos. of films in the form of soft loan, term loan etc. However, due to financial crunch, it has not been possible to finance adequately to the new entrepreneurs in the recent years.
Though the corporation has a vital role to play for the development of the Oriya film industry, financing has become a serious limiting factor. Holding of regional, children, foreign and international film festivals were also the activities of the corporation. With the squeezing of its activities, the corporation is loosing its importance day by day, which was once upon a time an example for the other state film development corporations/boards.
Kalinga Studios Ltd.
The Kalinga Studios Ltd. was established in the year July 1980 and started its commercial operation from 5th May 1982. This was established by the OFDC with the technical and financial collaboration of the Prasad Group of Chennai, who were then the leaders of the Indian film industry.
This studio was once the pride of Orissa and attracted a number of leading film personalities from North, South, East and West of the country. Subsequently with the growth of the film industry, various small studios and shooting units came into existence, which came on the way of this prestigious studio. The studio with its large establishment and with old equipments failed to compete with the innovative entrepreneurs.
Due to mounting losses and increasing employees’ liabilities, all the employees have been retrenched since 2007 and the unit has been put to the process of joint venture. The process is yet to complete.
Prasad Kalinga Film Laboratories Ltd.
After establishment of the Kalinga Studios Ltd. in 1980 and with the rapid growth of the Oriya film industry in 1980s, the need of a collour-processing laboratory in the state was felt. Accordingly, a collour -processing laboratory named as Prasad Kalinga Film Laboratories Ltd. was established in the year 1989 with the estimated cost of Rs.3.00 Crores with technical and financial collaboration of Prasad Groups of Chennai.
It started its commercial operation in January 1992. Since then, it has not looked back and the unit has been the attraction of all the film producers of Orissa and most of the film producers of Bengal and Chhatisgarh.
Biju Pattnaik Film and Television Institute, Orissa
With a view to produce trained professions in the field of film and television, a state of art institute has been established by the Govt. of Orissa in the year 1992 under its technical education programme. The institute has been named as “Biju Pattnaik Film and Television Institute, Orissa. The institute produces trained professions in three areas like Cinematography, Sound & Television Engineering and Film & Video Editing.