Regional Movies from Bihar Losing Their Identity Over Time?

Regional Movies from Bihar Losing Their Identity Over Time?

Regional movies from Bihar –  this phrase might seem a little confusing to non-Biharis who have considered films from the state worthless and non-existent. But are these regional films facing a crisis and losing their status over time?

Millennials coming from the state of Bihar and working in other parts of the country are truly losing their identity, culture, and tradition over time. Look around you. How many of us really take pride in calling ourselves a ‘Bihari’? Even caching away their essences are our heritage and mother tongues, left behind a generation ago. Now they are just limited to special occasions in the families and festivals like Chhatth, calling us back home. 

Such is even the case with the regional movies from Bihar which are losing their status and are becoming obscure amid numerous movies showcasing obscenity in them. And even some moviemakers when bringing popular stories from the state on to the silver screen prefer dubbing them into the matrubhasha Hindi. 

Ask anybody around you. How many good Bhojpuri, Magahi or Maithili movies have they heard of? None –  isn’t it? And even if someone around you knows a few of them they would probably be talking about the ₹2000 Crore film industry from the state that likes to portray regional movies from Bihar in a lewder fashion. But was this trend always the same? 

It has been more than 70 years since India became an independent nation. Since its independence in 1947, as the nation progressed, the film industry in India progressed too. Initially, into silent films like Raja Harishchandra(1913), the industry started producing talkies like Alam Ara in 1931, followed by many others. The age began around the 1950s with brilliant directors like Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy, Chetan Anand and others. But when did this wave touch the cinema in Bihar? And how many regional movies from Bihar have been released so far?  

The History of Regional Movies from Bihar 

Regional movies from Bihar have a long history. As early as during the year of 1902, Jamshedji Framji Madan –  an Indian film and theatre industrialist, acquired Elphinstone Theatre Company of Mumbai (then Bombay) and converted it into the Elphinstone Bioscope Company. The Elphinstone Theatre of Patna was then established and later converted to Elphinstone cinema which basically released silent films. The first silent film to be shown in this theatre was ‘Punarjanam’ released in 1931. 

Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo (1962) was one of the earliest regional film from Bihar
Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo (1962) was one of the earliest regional film from Bihar

Another era for films in Bihar began in the 1960s with the first-ever Bhojpuri movie named ‘Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo’ starring Kumkum, Nazir Hussain, and Ashim Kumar. The film was released in the Veena Cinema of Patna in 1963 on the request of the former President of India Shri Rajendra Prasad. Since the ’80s the Bhojpuri film industry has been flourishing in Bihar with a smaller space for films in Maithili, Magahi, and Angika dialects.

Today the industry is a ₹2000 Crore industry but one sees only a few films in Bihar which are really good. The stories on which these movies are based on seem unrealistic, showcase obscenity and attract the masses to the theatres with quirky titles and item numbers. What is more upsetting is the industry from other states like West Bengal and Kerala reaching new heights and regional movies from Bihar losing their identity being limited only to the theatres in the state. 

Yet, the regional movies from Bihar find hope in some young talents, directors, efforts made via online platforms, and the support of people from the state who hate being stereotyped. And being stereotyped really hurts the morale of any individual who respects the culture and tradition of his/her state. Such is the case with the cinema industry too which if not nurtured will face the ubiquitous challenge of making a strong comeback to the mainstream. 

New hope for Regional Movies from Bihar 

Nitin Chandra and Achal Mishra
(Left to right) Nitin Chandra and Achal Mishra are putting in a lot of efforts in bringing in new-age regional movies from Bihar to life.

Neetu Chandra –  a famous Bollywood actress and her brother Nitin Chandra are on a quest to give a voice to regional languages from the state and produce fabulous films. These films whether short or of feature-length have often proven their might, giving wings to strong stories, and helping the youth from the state connect more to their own culture and take pride in calling themselves Biharis. 

The brother-sister duo has released many regional films under their the production house ‘Champaran Talkies’ including Deswa, Mithila Makhaan, and many other short films on YouTube. They are also much adored for a promised Chhatth video every year since 2016 which gain the viewership of more than a million people online. Nitin has even revealed in a few interviews that some people even began Chhatth in their households since the release of the first song. 

But bringing these regional movies from Bihar to life isn’t an easy path to choose. These come with many challenges like funding and even support from online streaming platforms like Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime. 

In his live session on the Facebook page of Bejod, The Ranchi Review tried to get in touch with Nitin Chandra and asked him when was ‘Mithila Makhaan’ going to be released. Nitin addressed the question saying that even ‘Deswa’ couldn’t make it to the theatres but remained only limited to special screenings. 

It was heartbreaking to know that the two obvious reasons were the films not showcasing the ‘commercial’ obscenity and not receiving a platform to be able to reach the masses. Yet Champaran Talkies keeps winning against all the odds and has scheduled the release of the National Award Winning ‘Mithila Makhaan’ on its own online streaming service later this year. 

Another young talent giving hope to the regional movies from Bihar is Achal Mishra who loves producing Maithili movies with beautiful stills and a strong story to tell. Ranging from being an assistant director for the 2015 movie ‘Talvar’ to showing his own creativity in making short films based in rural Bihar, Achal has got his all. His recent movie ‘Gamak Ghar’ was well-appreciated and was nominated at the 2019 Mumbai Film Festival for the Golden Gateway of India Best Film award. 

His other short films include ‘A Winter Afternoon’, ‘Bipin Chaudhry’s Lapse of Memory’, and ‘Kafan’ which are worth watching while you stay at home during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and explore the wide opportunities for regional movies from Bihar. 

Such is the scope and hope for regional movies from Bihar with new talents, directors, and some people from Bihar who have vowed to stop others from stereotyping the state. And, as Nitin revealed to the Ranchi Review, ‘To change the market, we need to create a brand new one’, these substantial and positive steps to bring forward regional movies from the state to the mainstream theatres are truly worthy of applaud!  


Also Read: 7 Short Films from Bihar and Jharkhand to watch during the Lockdown


Abhinav Pathak

Editor and Fiction Writer based in Bangalore. Editor at The Ranchi Review.

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