It’s a rare distinction, two Padma awards for the same song! Here, we talking about the cult Sambalpuri number ‘Rangabati’. While singer Jitendra Haripal was conferred with Padma Shri in 2017, its lyricist Mitrabhanu Gountia has been selected for the fourth highest civilian honour of the country this year.
Haripal, who lent voice to the song, is only too happy that another member of the ‘Rangabati’ team has been selected for the award. “The award will encourage those who are working in the field of folk art and culture,” he said.
The other two members are music composer Prabhudatta Pradhan and singer Krishna Patel.
The 77-year-old lyricist said that the song gave him name and fame. ‘Rangabati’ was recorded for All India Radio (AIR) Sambalpur’s Surmalika programme in 1975-76. After its popularity, Indian Record Manufacturing Company Ltd (INRECO), a record company in Kolkata, re-recorded the song in disc format in 1976. It, however, had a delayed release in 1978–79 following some dispute.
The song got official recognition as it was played in the tableau of Odisha, which was part of the Republic Day parade in New Delhi in 2007.
A one-hour documentary on the song was also produced by Doordarshan, Sambalpur, said Gountia, a retired teacher.
Winner of Odisha State Sangeet Natak Academy Award and Akashvani National Award for music, he starting writing at the age of 15. Gountia was also honoured by Sambalpur University for his creations, which includesPakhal Khuri Thi Mahara, Rakshya Kabacha, Gaon Amar Maa, Draupadi Haran and Jhee Ratan.
He has also won the Odisha State Teachers Award in 2003 for his contribution to the field of education.
To honour the lyricist, the Renevue Department had renamed his village Bilung as ‘Rangabati Bilung’ in 2017.
This song has been recreated in many Indian languages, including Telugu and Bengali. It was remade by composer Ram Sampath and Odisha-born singer Sona Mohapatra for MTV India’s Coke Studio Season 4 and was one of the highest viewed songs having been embroiled in a controversy with people slamming the singer for “wrong pronunciation” in her rendition. Bollywood musician Shankar Mahadevan had sang the same song during the opening ceremony of Asian Athletics Championships at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.