Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 18:
How the mighty have fallen!
The internet is abuzz with a certain Ram Ratan claiming to expose internationally acclaimed fashion designer from Odisha, Pritam Panda on Facebook. Ratan claims that Panda has morphed pictures of celebrities with his own face to trick people into believing that he is the international designer who makes red carpet appearances with the who’s who in Hollywood and has been awarded for his work world over. Ratan has also alleged that Panda uses the pictures of designs of other designers and portrays as his own.
Ratan’s Facebook profile is supposedly anonymous but it seems that he has left no stone unturned in gathering pictorial evidence against Panda. He has made collages of Panda’s Facebook screenshots of his designs and those of the original designs with their website links. He even has used GIF images to support his claims.
Pritam Panda went on to delete the images and deactivate his Facebook account for about half-an-hour that added to the mounting suspicion. Panda also tried to text Ratan on Facebook, which the latter cleverly took snapshots of and posted on his timeline.
Pritam Panda in an attempt to clear the air spoke exclusively to Odisha Sun Times today:
OST: What do you have to say on this barrage of allegations of plagiarism on you?
PP: This is a difficult time for me and my company. My friends who know me have complete faith in me. However, there are a lot many people out there who believe these false accusations against me. I need time to just calm down.
OST: The pictures on Facebook are not hard to believe. It is evident that you could have morphed these images and gain popularity as a designer.
PP: I have my collection of pictures of events, appearances and award ceremonies in an external hard drive. I just found out that hard drive has gone missing and I am unable to trace it.
OST: But you deleted your account and the pictures of Bollywood celebrities wearing your designs. Why was that?
PP: I had deactivated my account for 30-40 minutes not more than that. I have done nothing wrong and I have no reason to hide from anyone. You can see for yourself that my profile is available. I have not deleted any update from my Facebook account. All of my updates are still there.
OST: What about that black dress that Bipasha Basu was wearing for a promotional event of her film? It is from the Namrata Joshipura collection. But you have labeled it as one of your own and called it ‘Black Swan’ from Pritam Panda Fall/Winter 2014-15.
PP: Yes, I did. But what I meant was that I was just the stylist and not the designer of that dress. There is a difference between a stylist and a designer.
OST: Is there anybody you doubt? A jealous co-designer trying to sabotage you, maybe?
PP: It could be one of my employees, who I fired in October 2015. One of my designers found out that there was something amiss in my accounts and that he was responsible. He got into a huge fight with her and was asked to leave the company. His name is Karan. But it is hard to believe Karan could have done it, given that he was working with me for the last six years and was like family.
I have information that those specific images on Facebook that claim to expose me have earlier been sent to media houses in Odisha in the last six months. In fact, some of those images were sent from my professional e-mail ID, which is very surprising. Karan had the passwords to my Facebook and e-mail accounts. And this is the reason as to why I am doubting Karan. I became a designer when I was 19. I have no enemity with anybody.
OST: What will be your course of action now? Have you filed a complaint with the police for defamation?
PP: I am taking the help of my solicitors for legal advice. I want to gather enough information about this person before I make a move. I do not want to file a complaint, as of now.
Much has been written about Pritam Panda. He founded VKY-House of Fashion with his sister in 2003 and is the in-house designer for a Bhubaneswar-based fashion label. The story of this young man from Balasore town of Odisha, who went on to make a name for himself in international haute couture is a success story that caught the imagination of the media and many newspapers and websites have reported the news of the awards and accolades that have been showered on him. But how many of those awards actually exist?
National newspapers in city editions have reported that Panda is the winner of World Chopard Young Entrepreneur Award 2010. A simple Google search will reveal that no such award exists.
Furthermore, a leading Odia newspaper reported that he was the winner of the 12th Murex Global Fashion award in 2012, held in Italy. A search on the internet yields no such result on Murex Global Fashion award. The only Murex D’Or award is one that felicitates those in the field of art in Lebanon and Murex D’Or’s 2012 award ceremony, held in Beirut, has Pritam Panda nowhere in its pictures.
Read here: Global award for state designer
Similarly, Panda claims to have an honorary master’s degree from a leading French University, École Normale Supérieure. This French University has no master’s program for fashion designing or anything remotely related to it. It trains elite professors, researchers and public administrators. The question is, why would a French university that produces philosophers, writers, scientists, lawyers, statesmen, diplomats, directors and journalists and has no master’s program in fashion designing give a fashion designer an honorary degree?
Read here: French laurels for fashion designer
Odisha Sun Times also wrote a feature story on him like the rest. And therefore, we believe that it is our moral obligation to shed light on any such accusation, even if we put him on a pedestal before. We owe this to our readers.
Allegations are afloat that will soon be followed by explanations, clarifications and counter-attacks. But for now, Panda is under the scanner for plagiarism.
For those keeping scores, it is: Ram Ratan: 1 and Pritam Panda: 0