Art & Entertainment

Bhojpuri Cinema Needs Filmmakers Like Satyajit Ray, Prakash Jha

Bhojpuri cinema needs filmmakers with sensibilities like Satyajit Ray and Prakash Jha to move forward with changing times, says actor-BJP MP Manoj Tiwari.

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Manoj Tiwari Photo: Theweek.in
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Bhojpuri cinema needs filmmakers with sensibilities like Satyajit Ray and Prakash Jha to move forward with changing times, says actor-BJP MP Manoj Tiwari.

In an interaction with PTI editors at the news agency's headquarters here, the former Bhojpuri star and singer said despite massive popularity, the cinema of the region is yet to go national.

"We need to take steps to take Bhojpuri cinema forward. And for that, we also need directors like, say, a Prakash Jha, a Satyajit Ray sahab. We have a lot of viewers, but we are yet to reach that level," said Tiwari, who has starred in over 100 films including "Sasura Bada Paisawala", "Daroga Babu I Love You", and "Bandhan Toote Na".

Ray, a cinema legend, put Bengali culture and ethos on global map with classics such as "Pather Panchali", "Aparajito" "Apur Sansar" and "Charulata", while Jha has tried to capture the socio-political issues of Bihar through movies like "Gangajal", "Apaharan" and "Rajneeti".

According to Tiwari, the day filmmakers from the Bhojpuri belt start pitching stories such as "Mirzapur" and "Maharani" for the big screen, it will be in a position to compete with south cinema, which is currently having its moment in the sun.

"Time will come (for Bhojpuri cinema). Web series like 'Mirzapur' or 'Maharani', these stories belong to our region, to Bhojpuri cinema. Cinema is not picking up that kind of content, but the day films start backing such stories, we (Bhojpuri cinema) will start competing with the south film industry."

The Bhojpuri film industry produces around 60-70 films annually, he said, adding the theatrical exhibition industry is not in a good condition today.

When I was doing films, there were times when a movie, which was mounted on a budget of Rs 1.5 crore, fetched around Rs 30-35 crore at the box office. My first ever film ('Sasura Bada Paisawala') earned Rs 56 crore. Today, people aren't coming to watch films in theatres. Another reason for this could be that even owners aren't interested in the theatre business. But, Bhojpuri cinema continues to be a topic of discussion around the world.

I have done 100 films as a hero, but the budget of none of my films is over Rs 1.5 crore. (My films have) earned Rs 56 crore as well as Rs 3 crore in profit as an average of three films. None of my producers were left on the streets. They, in fact, ended up living in palaces," said Tiwari, who is contesting from North East Delhi for a third term in the Lok Sabha.

The MP said Bhojpuri songs tend to clock millions of views online courtesy popular voices like Ritesh Pandey ("Piyawa Se Pahile") and Pawan Singh ("Jai Chhathi Maiya").

The online views of songs by Bhojpuri singers like Ritesh Pandey run into thousands of millions. Then, there's Pawan Singh, who remains in the top seven-eight (most listened to singers) in the country," said Tiwari, who has sung over 200 Bhojpuri songs including "Rinkiya Ke Papa" and "Jiya Tu Bihar Ke Lala" from "Gangs of Wasseypur".

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