Shree Jagan Mohan Lal

Born :- 25-Nov-1838
Died :- 26-Dec-1913
Place of Birth :- Mahanga, Cuttack

Jaganmohan Lala is hailed as the first Odia playwright. For all practical purposes he was an actor, a playwright, an administrator and a social reformer. The ancestors of Jaganmohan migrated from Uttar Pradesh and settled in Mahanga long ago. Jaganmohan belonged to the 13th generation.

Despite having vast landed property --zamindari–Jaganmohan opted for government job after completing his education and had moved up to the rank of a Deputy Collector before retirement. A drama book titled Bhrama Bhanjan authored by him was included in the school curriculum at that time.

Jaganmohan had deep interest in theatres, farces and drammas. Visiting Bengali and English plays in theatre houses while pursuing his study at Cuttack, he was attracted to stage activities and set up a theatre called Radhakanta Rangamancha in 1875. But he was not satisfied with plays from translations. Therefore, he wrote a play titled Babaji and staged it in 1877. He himself played the role of the Babaji, the protagonist, and was also Director of the play. His plays voiced protest against superstitions and advocated reforms. Although he himself was a zamindar, he wrote against the exploitations perpetrated by the zamindars on the tenants and the common men. He established the Bhasoddipani Sabha and the Utkal Sabha in association with Karmaveer Gauri Shankar Ray.

His works included: Bhrama Bhanjan (Translation of the Hermit by Thomas Parnal), Odisha Bijaya (in context of The Conquest of Orissa part of the History of Orissa by historian Toynbee), Babaji (1877 – basing on the corruption in mutts and temples), Sati (1886 – in support of widow marriage), Bruddha Bibah (against the practice of marriage of young girls with old men), Preeti (against the dirty activities of Zamindars) and Astabakra Upadesh.


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