Bhojpuri cinema is a protest against Bollywood: Avijit Ghosh

Last Updated: Jan 22, 2011, 19:11 PM IST

In India, the image of Bihar is often associated with lawlessness, corruption and crushing poverty. However, when we talk about its literature and cinema, it is Bhojpuri cinema that rules the roost.

On Day 2 of DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, noted journalist and author of ‘Cinema Bhojpuri’ Avijit Ghosh discussed the changing dynamics of regional cinema, especially Bhojpuri cinema, which is precariously placed between conflicting class sensibilities and mainstream Bollywood with Spicezee’s Aman Kanth.

Here are some of the excerpts:

Aman: Do you agree that Bhojpuri cinema is no longer the poor cousin of Bollywood?

Avijit: Regional cinema by nature has its own identity. Talking about contemporary cinema, Bhojpuri cinema is filling in the gaps which are left behind by Bollywood cinema. Bollywood of the 1970s was the cinema of mass sensibilities, where everybody identified with the social strata. However, new Bollywood is hugely upper middle class and class centric. Apparently, Bhojpuri cinema fills in this gap. Yet, at one level Bhojpuri cinema is a protest against Bollywood and at another, it embraces Bollywood.

Aman: Why is Bhojpuri cinema village centric in approach?

Avijit: With time, even the villains have changed in Bhojpuri cinema. If earlier it was the landlord, now it is the politician and the muscleman.

Aman: What are the possible reasons behind the phenomenal success of Bhojpuri cinema?

Avijit: Primarily, Bhojpuri cinema is a protest against Bollywood cinema because it fails to cater to the needs of lower middle class population. Another reason is that migrant population based in various parts of India needs cinema of its own kind and herein lies the secret of success of Bhojpuri cinema.

Aman: What’s the reason behind the growing popularity of Bhojpuri actors Ravi Kisen, Manoj Tiwari, Dinesh Lal Yadav?

Avijit: The kind of films and characters Bhojpuri stars Ravi, Manoj and Dinesh come from are identifiable with the local sensibilities as all of them belong to the local area. Interestingly, Bhojpuri cinema actresses like Nagma, Pakhi Hegde and Mona Lisa are not from the hinterland

Aman: Regional cinema has always lagged behind in India. Why so?

Avijit: See, regional cinema is what people like to see. In context of Bhojpuri cinema, it is fulfilling the needs of the underclass. However, the middle class does not identify with it. One would like to see a wholesome representation of Bhojpuri cinema which satisfies all classes and sensibilities.