“Creating a Niche in Media Space”: Iti Samanta

by Akankshya Mahapatra

 A cup of hot tea in one hand and a magazine on the other is a pleasure with no match. More so if the magazine captures your imagination and provides relatable content then it is no less than a massage therapy. While many magazines and books have graced our bookshelves, one such magazine that has not only established itself as one of the country’s most respected and intellectually agile magazines but also set new benchmarks for regional journalism is the Kadambini. Known for its intellectually stimulating, comprehensive and informative content, the magazine has transcended all age groups, thanks to the untiring and determined efforts of Dr. Itirani Samanta. As the Editor of The Kadambini, she has transformed the magazine into a household name and a brand that voices the opinion of the downtrodden and underprivileged. Over the years, the magazine has built up a loyal, intelligent and socially conscious readership of over three three million and swiped into the hearts of Odias residing across the globe.  

Born in a remote village of Kalarabanka in Cuttack district, Samanta had a forgettable childhood. She grew up amidst severe poverty and battled all odds in life to complete her education with the inspiration of her widow mother. “I was the youngest of all the siblings. Growing up, arranging a square meal for us was a far-fetched dream. My mother was a strong woman. She worked hard to give her children a normal life. Despite all hardships, I was always confident that I would bring fame to my family one day,” she recollects. After completing her engineering studies, she landed a job in Bhubaneswar.

Cheating a niche in media space

Few months into the job, Samanta wasn’t very pleased with her work life. She quit her job and decided to pursue higher studies in Odia. Many thought that her decision to study Odia might backfire but they didn’t know that Samanta was bracing herself to start something historic for the state. Subsequently, she decided to start Odisha’s first family magazine, named the ‘Kadambini’.

Recalling the initial days, she says, “I was very fond of reading novels since childhood. I used to write scripts for my village dramas at the age of 10. Throughout my student career, I have exhausted all my savings in buying books, magazines, novels, etc. But I felt there was a dearth of magazines with extensive feature-based content on family and issues concerning the society. Thus, to fill in that gap, I began Kadambini in the year 2000 with the support and inspiration of my brother Dr. Achyuta Samanta, who has always stood by me like a pillar.” Back then, Samanta’s decision to start the magazine was not welcomed by many who otherwise thought that her venture would be short-lived. Without paying any heed to her critics, Samanta went ahead and stayed true to her passion and ethics. Not only did she fill a niche in the Odisha media market that had remained vacant for far too long, the magazine went on to capture the essence of readers and magazine lovers through its comprehensive and engaging content. At the Kadambini, content is the hero. It covers a broad spectrum of topics including family, social life, inter-family relationships, fashion, beauty, celebrities, wellness, travel, sports, household tips, events and food and accepts fiction and poetry submissions from young and established writers in Odia language from across the globe. Also, it raises issues, engages the community, gives a strong point of view on issues that matter, and shapes opinions. For instance, the magazine was the first in the state to have exclusively featured transgenders and acid attack survivors and how they have broken the stereotypical mindset of the society.
As the Editor of the esteemed magazine, Samanta edits each and every article of the magazine with great interest and precision. She also leads a huge team of young and experienced professionals who have given their heart and soul to successfully run the magazine. Besides, no other magazine in the state provides informed and comprehensive content as Kadambini does. Such is the popularity of the magazine that readers wait with bated breath for every issue to reach the market. The magazine has remained particularly focused on people’s concerns, addressing issues that would stimulate the readers to think constructively for the society. Most importantly, the cover page of Kadambini is a huge hit among the readers. Many established women have graced the Kadambini covers over the years. Besides, Samanta’s fiction articles, editorials and interviews of eminent personalities published in the Kadambini have been loved and appreciated by readers across all age groups.    

Kadambini Magazine

Within a year of its publication, Samanta rolled out another venture, Kadambini Media Pvt. Ltd. A premier production house today, Kadambini Media publishes novels, stories, poetries, prose collection, feature collection, biography, autobiography, translations from other languages of eminent writers, etc. These publications have not only elicited interest from the readers towards Odia literature but also acted as a launchpad for several new and aspiring writers. The production house has also stepped into the world of film production in order to educate the masses through qualitative cinematic content. Samanta has produced two award-winning films named ‘Kathantara’ and ‘Krantidhara’ that won accolades nationally and internationally. The media house has successfully produced documentaries, tele films, tele serials, etc as well. The media house’s annual literary fest, Kadambini Literary Festival has found a respectable position in the literary calendar of the state. The lit fest has grown, not just in size but in stature for attracting literary talents from across the globe. Kadambini Patrika Haat, the only magazine fair of Odisha is another noteworthy initiative of the media house. She is also the editor of the ‘Kunikatha’, an interesting and educational magazine for young children and teenagers published by the media house. The Kunikatha is one of the widest-read monthly magazines in the state featuring stories, poems, jokes, cartoons, quizzes, G.K., topics on science, music, cinema, arts, literature and much more.  

Samanta expressed concern over the declining reading habits of the youngsters and called upon all the media fraternity to work collectively to provide rich, unique and authentic content for readers to aggravate an interest among them. Besides, she also opined that the reading culture should be inculcated within children at a very young age and they should be encouraged to read books in their mother language. If it happens constructively, then most of the regional magazines, she says, would be able to thrive in the market for long.

Creating niche in media space- Mrs. Samanta

Apart from journalism, Samanta finds pleasure in doing philanthropic activities. She is associated with various social organizations across the state and has been lending her support to different social causes like woman empowerment, girl child education, etc.

Samanta’s only wish is to see herself take a bigger role to promote rich and unbiased journalism among the youngsters and Odia literature among the masses. She is also contemplating bringing to the fore rich innovative content through the media house till her last breathe. 

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