Bhojpuri cine industry cries for a film city

February 21st, 2009 - 1:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The Bhojpuri film industry produces nearly 100 movies a year, employs over 50,000 people and is worth Rs.2 billion (Rs.200 crore), but a long-standing complaint of Bhojpuri actors and filmmakers is the lack of a dedicated film city in Uttar Pradesh.

While many say former chief minister Mulayam Singh’s government failed to develop a film city despite having promised to do so, film industry members says the current government headed by Bahujan Sam Party (BSP) chief Mayawati too has done little for their cause.

“Mulayam Singh Yadav’s government made numerous promises, but it never materialised. The present Mayawati government helped by giving subsidy to some films, but that’s it,” Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kissen told IANS.

Bhojpuri films are doing a profitable business. Kissen said the Bhojpuri film industry is worth Rs.2 billion (Rs.200 crores) and attracts crowds in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and even Maharashtra.

“In Bihar, there are 365 theatres dedicated to Bhojpuri films. In Uttar Pradesh there is a total of 680 theatres, of which 400 are dedicated to Bhojpuri,” said Ravi Kissen, who has also acted in Hindi films like “Welcome to Sajjanpur”.

“They also have similar market in other parts of the country because a good number of migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are living there to make a livelihood. In Maharashtra, there are 35 theatres for Bhojpuri films and it includes both single screen and multiplexes,” he said.

“The industry has over 500 professionals and over 50,000 people are employed directly or indirectly with the industry,” said the actor, who will soon be seen playing Abhishek Bachchan’s brother in Mani Ratnam’s “Ravan”.

Manoj Tiwari, another Bhojpuri star who will be contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as the Samajwadi Party’s candidate from Gorakhpur, too feels having a separate film industry is a must as it will go a long way in cutting costs.

“Besides a number of good locations, the cost of making films in Uttar Pradesh is definitely very low as compared to other places. So a Bhojpuri film city is not only a demand, but it is a necessity,” Tiwari said.

Actress-producer Madhu Tiwari says the recent anti-migrant protests by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in Maharashtra is another factor that has fuelled the demand for a separate film city for Bhojpuri movies in Uttar Pradesh.

“We are united on the issue and will soon be pressing our demand to the state government. If a film city materialises, we will not be forced to go to Mumbai for dubbing, editing, recording and other technical work,” said Madhu.

Ravi Kissen said Bhojpuri films are popular because it provides entertainment cheaper than Bollywood movies as far as ticket prices go. According to him, even English films dubbed into Bhojpuri are popular.

“Even a poor man who earns Rs.20 a day can watch Hollywood movies dubbed in Bhojpuri in the remote rural areas at a price of Rs.9. So why are we wrong in asking for a dedicated film city?” asks Kissen, who also plans to open a Bhojpuri film and drama school in his hometown Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh.

“I will make the school with my own money and on my own land. My target is to complete it in the next five years and, besides providing training in acting and other technical aspects of filming, I will also give free training to poor aspirants,” Kissen said.

(Rajat Rai can be contacted at rajat.r@ians.in)

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