Once a celebrated theatre artiste who brought mythological villains alive on stage, Pramod Bhue is now trying to eke out a living by making plastic ropes from cement bags. The Covid-19 pandemic dealt a death blow to open-air theatre, pushing this actor from Bargarh district of Odisha into abject poverty.
Pramod’s portrayal of Maharaj Kansa, Ravan and Tarakasur during Dhanu Yatra, an annual open-air drama event at Bargarh, had brought him many accolades and fans all over. With the closure of these events, the actors were left looking for alternative ways of earning livelihood. At his native village Pipalmunda of Bhattli block in the district, Pramod has been trying to support his family by making plastic ropes. But there is no market to sell them. Neither the district administration nor the state government has come to his aid. He has not received artist’s pension, Mukhya Mantri Kalakar Sahayata Yojana, announced in 2018.
The actor said: “The pandemic ruined our livelihood. I request the state administration allow open-air theatre to support the artistes." Hingashu Panda, a social worker, said, “It is unbelievable that a person who essayed the roles of kings is now struggling for existence."
Speaking on the issue, Nilamani Gadatis, member of Western Odisha Dhanu Yatra Artist Association, said, “He has played different roles on stage and brought glory to western Odisha. We appeal to the state govt to provide financial assistance to Pramod as well as other artistes."
Dhirendra Sethi, block development officer at Bhatli, said," As per govt scheme, we have taken all steps to provide assistance to Pramod Bhue. Ration card, Artist Pension and other facilities will be provided to all artistes."