Ever since I watched “Namak Halal” and Amitabh’s “I can talk Ingliss I can walk Ingliss. and I can laugh Ingliss…Ingliss is a varry phunnny language…Bhairon becomes Byron because their minds are very narrow” I knew that there was a Bhojpuri movie hidden somewhere there just waiting to come out.
And so it has —Namak Halal has been dubbed into Bhojpuri and released as “Babua Khiladi Dadua Anari” —inspired by “Main Khiladi Tu Anari”, one of Bollywood’s rare movies with a subtly gay subtext (or so people claim).
Of course there is nothing of the sort in “Babua Khiladi Dadua Anari” except some beautiful “Daddu Tum” moments between Amitabh (who has always had a Bhojpuri appeal with the “Khaike Pan Banaras Wala” and “Dhanno ki aankh sharabi re humka laage” songs) and “sharaabi, kababi buddha”— the nasal Oooommmm Prakash.
Which brings us to the bigger issue at hand—the phenomenal growth of the Bhojpuri movie market.
As BBC says:
The industry, catering to 200m people who speak the Bhojpuri language – a dialect of Hindi – and live in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, is raking in cash like never before. Sticking to home-grown Indian family melodramas and throwing in some glamorous faces and slick foreign locations for a contemporary feel, Bhojpuri films are often outperforming Bollywood biopics at the box office these days.
Take, for example, two of the Bhojpuri mega hits of 2005, Sasura Bada Paisawela (My Father-in-Law is Rich) and Daroga Babu I Love You (Dear Policeman, I Love You).
Pefectly logical. Imagine yourself a cowherd in Chapra district or a miner in Ranchi or a farmer in Bareilly or a pickpocket in Varanasi. After a day of backbreaking labor you want to get drunk, go to a movie wearing a comfortable lungi with your ribald mates, pass comments, throw some chawannis, dance in the aisles—–in short have fun. Which is exactly what “Sasuda Bada Paisawala” (a dream of most Indian working men) and “Daroga Babu I Love You” (an interesting premise) provide.
These movies target the problems of the proletariat—-when you know you are going to go home to a wife shouting at your drunken-ness clutching 3 kids in her hand, you want to see “Dulhan Banwa Chudail” (The Bride Becomes The Witch) before the inevitable happens at home.
Mother bossing, wife shouting, sister-in-law unwittingly seducing? Yes there is a movie for you— “Ma Biwi Aur Sali” ( Mother, Wife and Sister-in-law).
Kids treating you poorly? Old age? Don’t watch King Lear—-“Mat Bhulaiye Mai Baap Ke” (Don’t forget your parents”) is here.
Made on a modest budget of $65,000, Sasura Bada Paisawela took in over $3m at the box office. Daroga Babu mopped up nearly $900,000 on a similar budget.Many Bhojpuri movies take about 10 times their costs. With a success rate of almost 100% it is not surprising that Bhojpuri cinema is wooing Bollywood players like never before.
Superstar Amitabh Bachchan, presently recovering from surgery, and star actress of yesteryear, Hema Malini, have signed up for a Bhojpuri film together.Other actors who have appeared in or are about to appear in Bhojpuri films are Ajay Devgan, Juhi Chawla, Raj Babbar, Rati Agnihotri and starlet Nagma. That’s not all – Bollywood’s top choreographer Saroj Khan is directing a Bhojpuri movie, director Tinnu Verma is remaking a Bollywood hit, Mera Gaon Mera Desh (My Village, My Country), in Bhojpuri, and Bollywood singer Udit Narayan is producing a Bhojpuri film called Kab Hoi Gauna Hamar. The four-decade-old Bhojpuri industry is attracting foreign talent too. Ukrainian model Tanya has already played a Russian girl in love with a Bihari boy in Firangi Dulhania (Foreign Bride). Now 24-year-old Cambridge-educated British actress Jessica Bath has signed for two Bhojpuri films.
films.This was bound to happen with Bollywood totally losing its touch with the Hindi heartland and instead catering to the multiplex-going city slickers.
Who really cares about 3 friends who go to Goa in a Mercedes and “break up”, like girlie men, on some trivial issue? Not someone who has spent the whole day walking in knee-deep dung in a cowshack.
Who cares about badly executed copies of “Usual Suspects” or “When Harry Met Sally”? Or the story of a live-in relationship with the male protagonist prancing about in his underwear? Not the man who pulls a cart down the streets of Patna—he neither knows what a “live-in” relationship is nor the concept of underwear.
If further proof of Bollywood’s total disconnect with the heartland is needed it is this. In 2005 there were two remakes of Roman Polanski’s “Death and the Maiden”—“Siskiyan” and “Dansh”. Can you imagine watching Roman Polanski in a cinema theatre with the stench of urine, buzzing flies, pan-stained walls and one working fan? Neither can I.
There is so much people like Mithun-da can do in sustaining popular interest in celluloid creations (after all it is not easy to produce movies like “Classic Dance of Love” every few weeks). Other people also need to put their hands up.
In this context, it is heartening to see some other superstars (Big B, Dilip Kumar) taking a leaf out of Mithun-da’s book. Not to speak of the Bhojpuri heavyweights: Manoj Tiwari, Ravi Kishen and Rani Chatterjee (whose original name is Shabina Sheikh but who has been renamed Rani Chatterjee because the word “Sheikh” at the end has masculine overtones among the target audience and also because Bong ladies are every daily laborer’s fantasy)
I have seen Ravi Kishen’s work—he is phenomenal. His debut movie “Agnimorcha” was in Hindi where he played a disillusioned youth on the wrong side of the law and the song “Bolo Mooncipalty ki jai” swept the nation like a tidal wave. Bhojpuri directors, no doubt inspired by his pronunciation of the word “municipality”, took him into the world of proletariat movies—and he provided one superhit after another—“Suhagan Bana Da Sajna Hamar”(Make my lover my wife) and “Dulha Aisan Chahi” (Want a husband like this).
And the biggest heroine in Bhojpuri movies is our very own Nagma (who is considered Bengali by many—possibly because of the Sourav connection).I am sure her sterling work in “Super Police” and the song “Khaki wardi chasma wala, Patthar dil hain police wala, Phir bhi maine dil de dala, ooh yeah” in that movie caught the attention of the production company that made “Daroga Babu I love you”.
With Sourav’s career in the state that is in, it might not be long before he makes his debut as a hero opposite Nagma in “O Kiran, More Pyar Kario” (Love me dear Kiran) ,”Chappa(e)l Pawar Ab Huya Hamar” (The power of the shoe is now mine) and “Tani Pher Na Najariya Hamar Prabhu Ji” (Lord please look after me).
Its a fact. Producers are sick of stars who want to make movies only to get “Oscars” and thin anorexic heroines who remind the audience of poverty.
Similarly, the demographic that forms the backbone of the industry is also tired of the elitist dreams the Bollywood people try to foist on them—a man wanting to sleep with 21 women in 21 days, a mafia saga where noone looks like a villain, a lady getting pregnant by a ghost, a man who has murdered his wife, a story about Mumbai high-society or a failed bank-heist in LA.
With smaller budgets , no star tantrums, no Chinese food on the sets, no frills and stories that appeal to the unwashed masses, Bhojpuri movies have become a serious threat to the pretentious, bloated, disconnected fluff that comes out of the dream factories of Bollywood.
Really who cares about soft-focus, sepia tones and techno-Arabic-Bhangra after a hard day’s night? Not the heartland man.
All he wants to see is a buxom lady getting wet in the rain. Is that too much to ask?
Move over Mumbai, Mughalsarai is in the house.