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The first Bhojpuri film, Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo, was made in 1961 when Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India (and a native of Bihar), told the actor Nazir Hussain that he wanted to see a film in that language. The film became a huge success and spawned the Bhojpuri film industry, which today produces about 50 films each year. Bhojpuri films have audiences not only in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, where the language is traditionally spoken, but also in other parts of India which have Bihari migrants and countries such as Mauritius and Fiji which have a significant population of people with Bihari ancestry.
In the 2000s, many Bhojpuri films earned unprecedented revenues, prompting a surge of interest in the industry. Some of the biggest hits of the decade were Sasura Bada Paisawala (whose box office earnings was â¹40 crore), Daroga Babu I Love You and Nirahua Rickshawala. As the popularity of Bhojpuri films increased, many Bollywood actors and technicians found work in the Bhojpuri film industry. The films’ budgets increased and many included scenes shot in foreign locales and actors from abroad.
But many believe that the quality of Bhojpuri cinema is declining and the sexually explicit content has changed the audience profile. One such detractor is Bhojpuri director Nitin Chandra, whose film Deswa did not manage to get a commercial release despite being well-received at national and international film festivals. He rued that contemporary Bhojpuri films were “killing both cinema and language”. With popular songs such as Lollipop Lagelu (‘You Look Like a Lollipop’), Tanik sa Jeans Dheela Karaa (‘Loosen Your Jeans a Bit’) such allegations of vulgarity and frivolity do have a point. Nevertheless, Bhojpuri cinema— and its stars—remain as popular as before.
Most theatres in Bihar show Bhojpuri films, especially in smaller cities and towns. However, in Patna and in other big cities you might not come across Bhojpuri film screenings as a majority of the older cinema halls have been replaced by new chains, which prefer to exhibit the latest Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters.
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