He is the recipient of Sarala Samman in 2008. Odisha Sahitya Academy felicitated him in 2010 for his contribution to the field of literature. But 83-year-old renowned litterateur and lyricist Binod Pasayat never fails to open his barber shop every morning.
“This is my bread and butter and literature is my hobby. So I maintain an equilibrium between my two professions,” smiles the octogenarian, who has numerous prestigious awards and citations to his credit. The writer of several plays and songs, considered an important figure in the history of Sambalpuri language, has no other source of income apart from his inherited profession.
Born in the year 1935 in Balangir town, Pasayat had to drop out of school after Class VIII to help his father in their ancestral profession because of their poor financial condition. Though he could not complete his studies, his passion for literature led him to shift his workplace to Sambalpur in 1953. “I came in contact with Murari Prasad Mishra, a renowned cultural figure of Sambalpur, and with his encouragement and support I started my literary career in Sambalpur,” recalls Pasayat. “But it was famous musician Arun Prasanna Seth who gave a new shape to my songs and I created one Sambalpuri song after another,” he reminisces.
However, it was Pasayat’s famous Sambalpuri play ‘Mui Nai Mare’ (I will never die) that brought him fame. In the play, the actor playing Ravan, the demon king of Lanka, refused to die at the hands of Ram because his wife suggested him not to die this time. Everyone, including the director tried a lot to persuade him to die, but he was rigid not to die this time. The play was a hit and Pasayat’s work was appreciated by one and all.
“The government should recognize his contribution by providing him a pension as a mark of respect to the artist,” says retired teacher and educationist Laxmikant Mishra.