Chit funds, Corruption and Casting couch Ollywood Connection
The name Ollywood has its origin in the words Odia and Hollywood. These days ‘Ollywood’ is in news because of its star actors’ and actresses’ alleged role in a chit fund scam. Ollywood received a big jolt when the new flashed that its famous comedian-turned-politician Tatwa Prakash Satapathy, better known by his stage name Papu Pom Pom, promotes casting couch, which was unheard of in the Odia regional entertainment industry. It was casting couch allegations by female actors that put Papu in the docks.
A class-IX student alleged comedian Papu Pom Pom of sexually exploiting and intimidating her after promising to get her acting roles in a movie. According to the girl, actor Papu Pom Pom first met her in her school and lured her with offers of movies. He took her phone number and kept in touch with her. On a later date, he molested her inside a vehicle. And she did not get a chance in movies as was promised by Papu.
Not only a minor but also an Ollywood actress accused some directors and producers of exploiting her sexually to provide roles. “I underwent the trauma when I entered the television industry three years ago. Some directors and producers sought sexual favours from me for good roles. I was physically abused for turning down their pleas,” said the actress. “They threatened me to ruin my career in Ollywood and television industry. I did not succumb to their pressure and never worked with them,” the actress added. Asked why she approached the police after a long time, the actress said, “I did not have the courage that time. I was in deep shock and scared. Now I mustered courage and came to the police station. I also appeal to other victims like me to wage a war against casting couch,” she said.
With Papu’s rising popularity, some builders and chit fund operators tried to encash his popularity for their dubious gains. Pravas Rout, chairman and managing director of Oscar Group of Companies, has cheated lakhs of people with the help of his chit fund company. Ollywood stars motivated people to deposit money in his Oscar Group. The Oscar Group of Chit Funds Companies organised a grand function in Surat in October, 2009, in which well-known Ollywood actors and actresses were seen batting for the company. Some Ollywood actors Uttam Mohanty and Papu Pam Pam and actresses Jina and Lipi attended the annual function of Oscar Management Services held in a big hall in Surat, which was organised by Pravas Rout. These Ollywood stars, invited by Rout to attend the function, lavished effusive praise on the company in their address. In his address, Uttam Mohanty, while welcoming the guests present at the function, had said this was his third visit to Surat and he would come again and again if they were with him. Talking about the Oscar Group, Mohanty had said Oscar was a five-letter word and the group is also operational in five area of activity, namely Oscar Bank, Oscar Media, Oscar Education, Oscar Movies and Oscar Real Estate. In his address, the former heart-throb of Ollywood also said the Oscar Group was going to produce an Odia movie in which his son Babushan would be the hero. Besides, he and his wife Aparajita have also acted in the film. “I hope with your blessings, the film would be successful,” he added. Mohanty had also said that with the cooperation and support of the people of Surat, Oscar Group would be able to expand its business. “Let your goodwill be with the company,” he had said. Showering praise on the Oscar Group, Ollywood actress Lipi said; “No matter how much I praise the company, it would be less than adequate.” Urging the guests to enjoy the occasion, she said she was willing to come again to Surat. “All I can say is Oscar Zindabaad,” Papu Pom Pom, in his speech, said and added the Oscar Group is going to produce a top-of-the-line Odia movie ‘To Akhire Mu’, 60 per cent of whose shooting had already been completed. “Cashing in on your goodwill and love, Oscar Group has started going up the ladder. Let your goodwill be with the Oscar Group and the company rolls on like a chariot,” he said. He was brazenly eulogised the Oscar group and its chairman. This proximity between Ollywood stars and Oscar Group showed that this chit fund scam nexus was deep rooted.
Two prominent chit fund companies like Maa Tarini Estate Private Limited led by so-called film-maker Niranjan Rana and Oscar Chit Fund Company led by Pravas Rout have looted crores of rupees in the name of providing plot/house and used this money in Ollywood industry. These two film-makers used the film actors and actress by paying them huge money for popularising their companies to attract the depositors.
Furthermore, the film actors-turned politicians, MLAs and MPs of the ruling Biju Janata Dal have immensely been benefited by these tainted companies. Among other Ollywood stars Lok Sabha MP from Berhampur Siddhant Mahapatra, Rajya Sabha MP Anubhav Mohanty, MLA Akash Das Nayak and Papu Pom Pom had acted in the films produced by Oscar Group chairman Prabhas Rout. The actors had promoted the chit fund company owing to which the general public and small investors were influenced to invest in the firm. Rout had looted these investments. The close association of these leaders with the chit fund company showed that the ruling party BJD was actively promoting the firm. “If someone is involved directly or indirectly with a thief then he or she will be termed thief. Won’t he?” asked BJP state vice-president Sameer Mohanty. CBI already arrested BJD’s Lok Sabha MP Ramchandra Hansdah and also former MLA in connection with the chit fund scam case.
“BJD is knee deep in corruption and everyone is involved, including chief minister Naveen Patnaik. How and against whom will he act? The CBI has already knocked on his doors. But no subsequent action was seen which implies that he has struck a deal with the Central government led by BJP. When he himself is involved in corruption, how can he take action against his corrupt party members?” asked Odisha Congress chief Prasad Harichandan.
The state government should start an exercise to refund deposits of investors who lost their money in the chit fund scam. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s studied silence over the chit fund controversy has relegated the issue to the back burner. BJD alleges it is a ‘political conspiracy’ to defame the government. However, in the blame game between the ruling party and the opposition parties, the poor suffers. Furthermore, many Ollywood celebrities are supposed to be role models for many Odia people, so they should project themselves as responsible citizens.
by Sanjay K Bissoyi