15 Famous People From Odisha Who Made the Country Proud!

Tucked away in a corner of casual nonchalance, Odisha has carved itself a history that has been at times so uneventful, the average Indian forgets that we’re still here. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are. We may not be the loudest or the richest, but that doesn’t negate decades of contribution Odiyas have made to the country to help making it what it is today. Lest we forget, here are 15 famous people from Odisha who have made significant contibution towards making the India of today.

Also read: 20 Fascinating Facts About Odisha

1. Narayan Mohanty

A military genius who also happens to be the first-ever veterinarian in the world to become a Lieutenant General, Narayan Mohanty is currently the President of the Veterinary Council of India. He was also the first Director-General of Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) in the Army. But his achievements do not stop there. He was also associated with the Presidential Office during the tenure of two Presidents, R Venkatraman and Shankar Dayal Sharma, and he even acted as a coach-cum-manager in the Doha Asian Games and as an international judge in the 1982 Asian Games.

Narayan also headed the three Services: Army, Navy and Air Force, as Vice-President (Admin) for a consecutive four years in the Defence Services Officers’ Institution. 

2. Varahagiri Venkata Giri (V. V. Giri)

Born & brought up in Berhampur in the Ganjam district of Odisha, Varahagiri Venkata Giri was India’s High Commissioner to Ceylon in 1947 & the fourth President of India. Before his presidential tenure, V. V. Giri had served as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, and Mysore. In 1975, he was honored with the Bharat Ratna for his contribution in the area of public affairs. A commemorative postage stamp on V V Giri was released by the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department in 1974.

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

3. Biju Patnaik

Born & brought up in Cuttack, Biju Patnaik was twice the chief minister of Odisha, and an Indian freedom fighter before ’47. A trained pilot in the Indian Air Force, Patnaik had close ties with PM Jawaharlal Nehru, but he had a falling out with Indira Gandhi. Consequently, he was one of the first people to get arrested during the emergency and he had a major hand in making V.P. Singh the Prime Minister of India. After his falling out with Indira Gandhi, Biju Patnaik left INC and founded his own party, Utkal Congress. He was a pioneer of the Industrial movement in Odisha and was responsible for laying the basic infrastructure for the development of Odisha. 

The Indonesian freedom struggle was parallelly going on alongside its Indian counterpart. Because of this, PM Nehru sympathized with the Indonesian cause. He asked Biju Patnaik to evacuate former Indonesian PM, Sjahir, who was unable to leave the country to attend a conference, because of the Dutch controlling the airline. Biju Patnaik, along with his wife Gyan Patnaik (who was also a pilot) flew to Indonesia to evacuate Sjahir while braving Dutch firing. Because of his contribution towards the cause of Indonesian independence, Biju Patnaik was awarded with the Bhumiputra award – the highest Indonesian award that was rarely ever received by a foreigner. 

Also read: 15 Interesting Facts About Biju Patnaik- The Pride Of Odisha

Source: Wikimedia Commons

4. Nandita Das

Born in Mumbai, Nandita Das originally hails from Baripada. A talented film actress and director, she is known for her performances in Fire, Earth, Bawandar & directorial debut Firaaq (2008) and her 2018 film Manto. Nandita Das is the first Indian to be inducted into the International Women’s Forum’s hall of fame in 2011. She was bestowed with the award of “Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters” by the French government in 2011. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

5. Sukant Panigrahy

Sukant Panigrahy hails from Aska in Ganjam District in Odisha. He is one of the most sought after art directors in Bollywood who has designed sets for several path-breaking movies like Gangajal, Chak De India, Aaja Nachle, Heroine, Ek Tha Tiger, Tashan, etc. Sukant won a Filmfare Award for Best Art Direction in 2010 for Dev D.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

6. Krishna Beura

A playback singer in Bollywood, Krishna Beura hails from Kusupangi, Banki, Cuttack. He can sing in 22 different languages including Odia. Some of his major hits include Main Jahan Rahoon(Namaste London), Aap ki Kashish(Aashiq Banaya Aapne), Maula Mere(Chak De) and Soniyo(Raaz 2). He has also worked in Hollywood with famous American musician Jay Oliver.

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

7. Sudarshan Pattnaik

Born & brought up in Puri, Odisha, Sudarshan Patnaik is a world-renowned Indian sand artist & Brand ambassador of NALCO, India. He has represented India in 50 international Sand Sculpture championships all around the world and has so far won 27. He’s a record 5 times winner of People’s Choice award at Berlin and has won many national and international awards. He was honoured with Padma Shri in 2014. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

8. Mihir Sen

Born in Purulia, West Bengal and brought up in Cuttack, Odisha, Mihir Sen is a famous long-distance swimmer, best known for being the first Indian to conquer the English Channel in 1958. He is the only man to earn the distinction of swimming the Oceans of the five continents in one calendar year (1966). He was awarded Padma Shri in 1959 & Padma Bhushan in 1967. Mihir Sen holds the record for long-distance swimming in the Guinness Book of World Records. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

9. Dilip Tirkey

Dilip Tirkey, Former Indian hockey player & ex-captain of the national team hails from Sundargarh, Odisha. Best known for his penalty corner hit, Tirkey was one of the most difficult defenders to beat in the world. He represented India in 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics and received the Arjuna Award for Hockey in 2002 & Padma Shri in 2004. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

10. Mira Nair

Born in Rourkela, Odisha & brought up in Bhubaneswar, Mira Nair is an Indian filmmaker and actress based in New York. Some of her major works include Mississippi Masala, The Namesake, the Golden Lion-winning Monsoon Wedding, and Salaam Bombay. Nair has won several national, Filmfare & international film awards and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2012.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

11. Nandini Satapathy

Born & brought up in Cuttack, Nandini Satpathy was the first lady Chief Minister of Odisha and the editor of Odia monthly “Kalana”. She was the founder cum Secretary of Odisha Women’s Relief Committee. Satpathy led Indian Film Delegations thrice in United Nations with the PM & was in the Chairmanship of Children’s Film Society of India twice.

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

12. Ritesh Agarwal

Born in Cuttack and brought up in Titilagarh, Ritesh Agarwal is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in India, having founded OYO rooms in 2013 at the age of 20. OYO Rooms completely revolutionized the Indian hospitality industry by offering premium rooms at cheap rates. OYO Rooms now operates in over 80 countries, and Ritesh’s net worth stood at approximately $1.1 billion in 2020, making him the second youngest self-made billionaire in the world after Kylie Jenner. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

13. Nila Madhab Panda

Born in Dasharajpur in Sonepur, Nila Madhab Panda is an Indian film director and producer, having directed over 70 films, documentaries and shorts. His movies mostly focus on social issues such as climate change, education, sanitation, child labour etc. His movie, I Am Kalam was a huge hit amongst film critics and ended up winning 34 international awards and a National Award. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

14. Padmini Rout

Born in Barambagarh in Odisha, Padmini started playing Chess at the age of 9. By 2005, she had won her first national title. In 2008, Rout won the U14 Girls’ section of both aasian and World Youth Chess Championship. She won the Indian women’s Championship in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. She also won the 2015 Commonwealth Women’s Championship by winning a gold for India. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

15. Dutee Chand

Born in Jajpur, Dutee Chand is an Indian professional sprinter. Chand is the current national champion in the women’s 100 metre event, and is the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in 100 metre race in global competition. At the 2018 Asian Games, Chand won silver in women’s 100 metre as well as 200 metre finals. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

We hope you liked our list of the most famous people from Odisha. Keep checking out our website for more informative content!

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