First Vice-Chancellor of Ravenshaw University
|Chairman of Governing Body
Biju Patnaik Film and Television Institute, Cuttack
15 November 2006
|Residence||Cuttack Orissa, India|
|Alma mater||Former Ravenshaw College,
Cornell University, USA
|Profession||Indian Administrative Service officer, Writer|
Devdas Chhotray is an acclaimed writer in the Oriya language. His body of work consists of poetry, stories, lyrics, musicals and screenplays.
Devdas Chhotray is widely known for his four decades of poetry and lyrics, which have been translated into several Indian and foreign languages. He is one of the few outsiders whose work has been published in Bengali translation in Sunil Gangopadhyaya edited "Krittibas". He has received the prestigious Prajatantra Bisuv Milan Award, Utkal Samaj Centenary Award (Gangadhar Meher Samman), and Rajdhani Book Fair Award 2008 for poetry. He has also been nominated to receive the prestigious Bhanuji Rao Memorial Award for excellence in Oriya poetry on 15 March 2009.
His collection of stories, 'Lal Machha'(Red Fish) has received wide critical acclaim. He composed lyrics for more than 75 films in Oriya, and earned State award as the Best Lyricist on more than five occasions. Apart from singer composer Akshaya Mohanty from Orissa, all top singers of Mumbai and Kolkata including Sandhya Mukherjee, Nirmala Mishra, Usha Uthup, Suresh Wadekar, Udit Narayan, Kavita Krishnamurthy and Sunidhi Chauhan have rendered his lyrics. A majority of his non-film commercial songs have been recorded by HMV (presently Saregama). He has composed musicals for television also.
Devdas Chhotray is most known for his long and productive collaboration with Akshaya Mohanty, the pioneer of Oriya modern music, from the 1960s to his death. As his principal songwriter, his bonding with Akshaya Mohanty’s auteur, film and non-film—and particularly in radio—has earned the duo considerable popularity and critical acclaim. This collaboration has resulted in creation of new and imaginative idioms in modern Oriya music.
Devdas Chhotray has written screenplays for feature films in Oriya. One of his films, Indradhanura Chhai (Shadows of the Rainbow) was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995, and received award as the Best Film in International Film Festival at Sochi on the Black Sea in Russia same year. His other film "Biswaprakash" (The Young Rebel) was adjudged as the Best Regional Film in National Film Festival, 2000, and was showcased in Indian Panorama.
He has worked as the Director of Orissa Film Development Corporation (1983–89 & 1996–98), Chairman of the Publication Committee in Fifth International Children’s Film Festival (1987), and later as Vice-President of the Governing Council of Film and Television Institute of India at Pune (1999–2001). Currently, he is the Chairman of Celluloid Chapter, Jamshedpur, and edits their journal 'Cinefile'.
Devdas Chhotray inherited the heritage of theatre. He has acted in radio and stage plays, and was a regular artist of the All India Radio (AIR), Cuttack. He was associated with the productions of Kala Sangam (Satish Anand’s) at Patna. He is presently a member of the Board of Trustees of Orissa Theatre Trust, Bhubaneswar.
Devdas Chhotray has a very distinct experience of cultural institution building. While working as the Deputy Commissioner, Santhal Parganas, he established the Santhal Nritya Kala Kendra at Dumka (1980) for promotion of Santhal dance and music under the Ministry of Culture. Later, as Administrator of Suberanarekha Project at Jamshedpur, he set up a Tribal Museum and Cultural Centre (1993) consisting of a hill top amphitheatre at Chandil for cultural rehabilitation of the submergence area.
He has several publications to his credit. Apart from the anthologies of poems and stories in Oriya, notably Nila Saraswati (Blue Muse) and Hati Saja Kara (Order the Elephants), translations of his poems in English have appeared in a collection called 'Longing' published by Pimlico Books, London. A separate anthology of his poems in Hindi called "Ret Ki Sidhi" (A Staircase of Sand) has been published recently in Delhi. Devdas Chhotray knows the Oriya, Bengali, Hindi, Assamese and English languages. He has done considerable creative writing in English, such as writing poetry and review articles on books and cinema. He has occasionally translated poems from Bengali, Hindi and Assamese.
Chhotray was educated in the erstwhile Ravenshaw College, Cuttack (now Ravenshaw University) and Cornell University, USA. After joining the IAS in 1971, initially allotted to UT and later to Bihar Cadre, Devdas Chhotray had worked in the states of West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, as well as in Government of India, New Delhi. He was the District Officer in Dhanbad and Santhal Parganas in the erstwhile Bihar. He has worked in the Departments of Personnel, Finance, Revenue, Industries, Health and Home in the State Governments, and in the Ministries of Industries, Coal, Department of Justice and Department of Home Affairs.
In 2006, Devdas Chhotray took voluntary retirement from Government service, while working as a Secretary to the Government of India to become the first Vice-Chancellor of the Ravenshaw University. He is also the Chairman of the Governing Body of the Biju Patnaik Film and Television Institute at Cuttack.
As the first Vice-Chancellor of Ravenshaw University, Devdas Chhotray expanded both physical and academic infrastructure, and installed the rudiments of good campus culture during his tenure.
In recent years, Devdas Chhotray has created some notable music albums in collaboration with singer Susmita Das and composer Om Prakash Mohanty such as Maya Darpan (Magic Mirror, 2007), taken from the works of romantic poet Mayadhar Mansingh, Hati Saja Kara (Order the Elephants, 2008), Nua Luha Puruna Luha (Alchemy of Tears, 2010), both written by him, Rubai (2012), Oriya adaptation of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat, and the latest, Radio Days (2012), an anthology of songs created by him and Akshaya Mohanty for the All India Radio, Cuttack in the 1960s.
Currently, he stays at Cuttack and New Delhi, and is actively engaged in writing music and film-making.