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Entertainment
10 Apr 2017

Bhojpuri cinema: From wholesome family entertainment to soft porn

Bhojpuri cinema: From family friendly to soft porn

Bhojpuri movies have lately been associated with double meaning titles, actresses showing too much skin and raunchy dialogues.

But Bhojpuri movies weren't always like this.

There was a time when they provided wholesome family entertainment, as Saurabh Sharma of 101Reporters notes for Youth Ki Awaaz.

In this timeline, we trace how Bhojpuri cinema went from being family-friendly to soft porn.

In context

Bhojpuri cinema: From family friendly to soft porn

First release

First Bhojpuri film released in 1963 thanks to President Prasad

It was Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India's first President and a proud Bihari, who promoted the idea of making a regional language film.

On February 21, 1963, a murder mystery called 'Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo' (Mother Ganges, I will offer you a yellow sari) was released. It was a superhit!

The film, dedicated to Prasad, featured songs by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi.

Early Bhojpuri films were family friendly

Only 21 Bhojpuri films were made from 1963 to 1976. All these releases were well written, family friendly and the women weren't objectified. "Laagi Nahi Chhoote Ram," "Videshiya," "Ganga," "Bhauji," "Hamar Sansaar" and "Balam Pardesiya" are the most remembered films of this period.

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The big shift

Commercialization of Bhojpuri cinema led shifting away from family entertainment

In the late '70s, Bhojpuri filmmakers moved away from targeting family audiences to the working class, with stories centered on truck drivers, labourers, rickshaw pullers and coolies.

Bhojpuri films started featuring double-meaning dialogues, senseless scripts, action and loud music.

In 2004, "Sasura Bada Paisawala" was released. The film, which starred singer-turned-actor and now politician Manoj Tiwari, featured cheesy song lyrics and item numbers.

"Sasura Bada Paisawala" opens floodgates for crass Bhojpuri cinema

"Sasura Bada Paisawala" was made on a Rs. 30lakh budget. The film ended up earning over Rs. 9crore at the box office, the highest grossing Bhojpuri film at the time. Subsequently, over 500 films were made but only a few were fit for family audiences.

Women objectified

Examples on how recent releases overtly objectify women

Recent Bhojpuri films have titles like "Pepsi Peeke Lagelu Sexy," "Laila Maal Ba-Chaila Dhamaal Ba", "Lehanga Mein Baadh Aail Ba", "Jeans Wali Bhauji" and "Mehraru Chahi Milky White."

The portrayal of female characters in these films is highly sexualized, featuring lines like 'Tohar Lehnga Uthayi Deb Remote Se,' (Will lift your skirt with a remote control) 'Double Musammi Rasgulla' (Double sized sweet limes).

It wasn't always like this

The 1984 film "Ganga Kinaare Mera Gaon" was a love story that was appreciated by women because of the beautiful portrayal of female characters. This is a far cry from how nowadays women distance themselves and their children from Bhojpuri films.

Why?

Censor Board not flagging many Bhojpuri films?

"Our laws restrict indecent portrayal of women but in the case of Bhojpuri films, no arrests or any sort of legal action have been taken," says Prabhu Jhingran, former director of Lucknow Doordarshan.

Only two out of 256 films denied certification by the Censor Board from 2001-11 were Bhojpuri, 78 were Hindi films while 52 were English.

Why are such movies being made?

Money!

Why are such movies being made?

"Such movies are churned out because filmmakers find a great demand for them. But while producers mint money, the educated class stays away," says budding Bhojpuri film actress Gulshan.

"The golden era died long ago. The Internet is also playing an important role in promoting this vulgarity and youths have fallen for it," says Anand Ojha, a senior citizen.

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