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Bihar Calling...

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By: Shweta Vepa, IndiaFM

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gone are the days when only those who failed to make it in Bollywood shifted to regional cinema. It is no longer 'degrading' to be a part of regional cinema as far as our Bollywood stars are concerned. Regional cinema, and specifically Bhojpuri cinema is big today and everyone wants to be a part of it. The market is huge and only expanding by the day.

Amitabh Bachchan made big news when he agreed to be a part of Ganga, a Bhojpuri film. That's not all. The film even has Hema Malini playing his wife. The film is being directed by Deepak Sawant, Bachchan's make-up man. Good relations take one a long way in the film industry. And it was probably Bachchan's long association with Sawant that made him give the green signal for the project. This is also the film which saw Nagma playing a significant role.

Ajay Devgan did a movie named Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke along with Bhojpuri superstar, Manoj Tiwari. This movie also starred Rani Mukherjee's cousin, Sharbani Mukherjee. For Sharbani, this choice came after a spate of unsuccessful Bollywood films like Mitti, Ansh, Aanch, etc. Actor-director Sachin Pilgaonkar who off lately impressed all with his dancing moves in Nach Baliye, too had featured in a hugely successful Bhojpuri film Nadiya Ke Paar way back in 1982. The Hindi remake of this film went out to be a blockbuster hit which we know as Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.

Nagma sure seems to have found her calling in Bhojpuri cinema after experimenting with Hindi and South Indian films. She also featured in a film named Ab To Ban Ja Sajanwa Hamaar, along with Ravi Kissen, one of Bihar's biggest stars. That's not the only Bollywood connection that this film had. It was produced by the legendary Dilip Kumar and wife, Saira Banu. With such stalwarts turning to Bhojpuri cinema, it must have surely opened doors for the others.

The original disco dancer of Bollywood, Mithun Chakraborthy, too tried his hand in this cinema. It was a film named Coolie which also starred Meghna Naidu, apart from Mithun. Not too many know that Ravi Kissen himself had started his acting career in Bollywood. Roles in films like Army, Kudrat and Udhar Ki Zindagi didn't exactly get him anywhere in Bollywood. However, after a very successful stint in Bhojpuri films, he was once again seen in the Bollywood flick, Phir Hera Pheri.

A considerable number of Bollywood actors have shifted loyalties after they failed to make it big in the Hindi film industry. Bhagyashree had a dream debut with Sooraj Barjatya's Maine Pyaar Kiya. While her co-star Salman, went on to become a superstar, her career left a lot to be desired. Maybe that's the reason why she recently made her Bhojpuri film debut with a film called Uthaile Ghungta Chand Dekhle, opposite Ravi Kissen. Another actress, Priya Gill, started off in Bollywood with ABCL's Tere Mere Sapne. At that time, she showed a lot of promise. Unfortunately, her career didn't take off. The last Hindi film she was seen in was J.P.Dutta's LOC Kargil. She has now decided to try her luck in regional cinema and is shooting for a Bhojpuri film titled Piya Tohe Se Naina Lage.

Says Govinda's nephew, Vinay Anand who's Bhojpuri film Kangana Khanke Piya Ke Angna released just last week, "I have done Hindi films like Lo Main Aa Gaya, Angaar - The Fire and Aamdani Athani Kharcha Rupaiyya. However, I was going through a phase wherein only one Hindi film of mine was releasing in a year or so. One should go where the business is! There is a complete craze for Bhojpuri films in Bihar. Even, if the theatre capacity is 1000, more than 1500 people will turn up to watch the film. So I decided to try my hands at Bhojpuri films. And why only Bhojpuri? I am even open to Tamil films!"

We all remember Rahul Roy, who won many a hearts with his first performance, in Aashiqui. But somehow, he never managed to live up to the great expectations after his first film. He was smart enough to explore other options with a Bhojpuri film called Gazab Bhaeel Rama. Actor Ayub Khan also made the shift with Chhaila Babu.

Others who went the Bhojpuri way include celebrated choreographer Saroj Khan, who directed Dil Deewana Tohar Hua and singer Udit Narayan who produced Kab Hoyibe Gauna Hamaar and Kab Kahbaw Tu I Love You.

Regional cinema and specifically Bhojpuri cinema is a very lucrative option, these days. For Bollywood stars, it is all about exploring a new territory. The money is good, as well. Stars are put up on a pedestal and are treated as demi-Gods. Vinay Anand adds, "Apart from the big banners, a lot of Hindi films face problems for their release. Bollywood films need an all-India release which sometimes proves to be a tough task. It becomes difficult to find distributors all over the country. However, in case of Bhojpuri films, finding distributors is easy. It's not a very big investment, but the returns are guaranteed". Having worked in Hindi as well as Bhojpuri films, Anand says that there is no difference as such in the styles of working. "A lot of talented technicians are turning to this cinema. For instance, Thomax Xavier was the cinematographer for my film, Chacha Bhatija. An average Bhojpuri film requires only 20 days of shooting from me. And that's because people are more conscious because the returns are guaranteed." And if you're wondering how much these films pay, it's the same market price you would get in a Hindi film.

Over the past couple of years, the Bhojpuri film industry has grown by leaps and bounds. People are realizing the importance of this industry today. As Jackie Shroff rightfully said, "When Bhojpuri films run in Bihar, no one even looks at Bollywood!" Need we say more?

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