It was a cold day of North Indian winter in Patna, capital of Bihar . The day was February 16, 1961. There were flurry of activities near Shaheed Smarak , Patna. On 16 February 1961 , muhurat of first Bhojpuri film ” Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibon ” was performed . Thus a tentative step was taken and a nascent film industry slowly started coming to life. ” Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibon ” was duly completed and was released to fabulous response of Bhojpuri speaking masses. It was huge hit of its time and is now considered a classic. Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi sang all the songs. Shailendra wrote the lyrics and all the stars were taken from the Hindi Film Industry.
Today Bhojpuri Film Industry completes 50 years. Much water has been flown down the Ganga in all these 50 years . The nascent industry now boasts of almost 50 releases a year. This industry is now supported by 8 TV channels and many more channels are coming. It has its own trade magazine , BHOJPURI CITY , published from Mumbai . Star prices are sky-rocketing and so are the tantrums and paraphernalia. But still this industry is not seen in good light by Hindi film industry people and also by general Bhojpuri speaking populace. It is derided, ridiculed and is considered down-market. Hindi film stars refuse to work in Bhojpuri films. Music Directors and renowned play back singers shun it like plague and family audience , specially ladies , avoid going to cinema halls , where Bhojpuri films are screened. Gone are the days of classics like ” Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibon ” , ” Lagi Nahi Chhute Rama “ and ” Bidesia “. Even films like ” Hamar Sansar ” , ” Sita Maiya ” , ” Balam Pardesiya “ and ” Dangal ” are long forgotten. ” Dharti Maiya “ , the last of the Mohicans , is also a distant history. Days of stars like ; Aseem Kumar, Kumkum, Naaz , Sujit Kumar , Padma Khanna , Rakesh Pandey and Kunal Singh are over . Bhojpuri film industry went into silent and sleepy mode after hugely successful ” Dharti Maiya ” and remained dormant for almost a decade.
In 2001 it got a new lease of life after ” Saiyan Hamar ” , ” Padit Ji Batayin Na Biyah Kab Hoyi ” and ” Sasura Bada Paisa Wala “. There were new stars on the firmament and industry started looking vibrant and robust. It was the decade of Ravi Kissen, Manoj Tiwari, Dinesh Lal Yadav [ Nirahua ], Pawan Singh, Rani Chatterji, Pakhi Hegde and Rinku Ghosh. Even a Nepali star Biraj Bhatt is ruling the rust. According to the grapevine Dinesh Lal Yadav [ Nirahua ] charges 75 lakhs. Average budge of a Bhojpuri film is now almost 1 crore. Apparently picture looks rosy and healthy. But frankly speaking its an ailing and decaying industry.
There are 24 crore Bhojpuri speaking people in this world. Apart from India, there are several Bhojpuri speaking nations in this hemisphere. Notable among them are : Mauritius, Fiji, Surinam, Trinidad and Guyana. European nations like Holland also has a sizable population of Bhojpuri speaking people. Definitely the market is huge and lucrative. So no doubt huge money is at stake . Therefore many unscrupulous people have sneaked in the industry feigning as a film maker, though the fact of the matter is , they are not genuine film makers.
There are people who don’t know the language or culture or the background of the people living in the hinterlands of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They are like migratory birds, who come for the quick buck. They make their temporary nest , collect their eggs and then leave for greener pastures and more lucrative fields. And because of them , Bhojpuri industry suffers.
Today as it completes 50 years of its existence, it is time to ponder. Why there is no representation of Bhojpuri films in National and International Film Festivals ? Why no Bhojpuri film was ever selected for the Oscars ? Why National Awards still elude us ? Why no one from the industry has been thought worthy of Padma Awards ? An industry of 50 years of standing is considered unworthy of the Oscars and we the film makers are not perturbed. An industry of 24 crore Bhojpuri speaking people is considered down market and we the film makers are not ashamed. An industry churning 50 films per year is not worthy of National or International Awards and we are not bothered. We, like a megalomaniac, think that everything is fine and that we are making great films.
A small Marathi film ” Shwas ” goes to Oscars. A new film maker makes an experimental Marathi film ” Harishchandrachi Factory “ and it also goes to Oscars. Bengali film industry , though smaller than Bhojpuri film industry , boasts of gigantic figures like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak and Tapan Sinha. Ray got Oscar [ Life Time Achievement ] and others have been awarded Dada Sahab Phalke Award and Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan Awards . A tiny state of Kerala boasts of internationally acclaimed film maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Even Assam boasts of Jahnu Barua and Bhupen Hazarika. Do we have any Bhojpuri film maker who can claim to have international standing ? I have nothing against these giants. I am only lamenting and hanging my head in shame at the unfortunate state of the pitiable and deplorable condition of Bhojpuri Film Industry.
Now the question arises, who is to be blamed for this state of affaires ? My answer is simple . And the answer is : WE. We the people of Bhojpuri speaking provinces hereby should solemnly affirm and accept that we have given our industry a bad name, a bad shape and a bad reputation . We make bad and unwatchable films. We insist that vulgarity should be the norm of the day. We proudly proclaim that Item songs should be and must be an integral part of our films. Marathi and Bengali films are recognized worldwide and we pat our back that we have a titillating item number in our film.
Today on the golden jubilee day of Bhojpuri Film Industry , central or provincial governments have no programmes to commemorate the occasion . TV channels also don’t have anything for the day. There is no buzz in the print media either. Can you imagine this kind of silence for Tamil , Telugu , Kannada , Malayalam or Bengali film industry’s golden jubilee day ? You know the answer and the answer is a firm no.
On this occasion we should take a pledge to retrieve the situation. Let us give our industry a good name, a decent reputation and an international recognition.
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
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