Cine stars see ray of hope in Bihar’s new film policy, offer suggestions

PTI, Nov 27, 2022, 10:53 AM IST

Representative Image (Source: Pinterest)

Patna: The Bihar government’s recent announcement on drafting a new film policy has cheered actors from the state who made it big in the tinsel town, but have been mostly engaged with work outside their home turf.

At the Indian International Film Festival in Goa, the state’s Minister for Art and Culture Jitendra Kumar Rai, had said earlier this week that the Nitish Kumar government was giving final touches to the policy that seeks to make Bihar an attractive shooting destination, especially for movies in dialects like Bhojpuri, which now have a huge market.

National Award-winning actor Pankaj Tripathi, who hails from Gopalganj district, believes that the decision was long overdue.

“There are many filmmakers who want to shoot in Bihar, away from Mumbai, to bring authenticity to their work but end up settling for adjoining Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh or other states for want of adequate facilities here. Hopefully, the new policy will plug the gaps,” Tripathi told PTI.

While Bollywood A-listers frequent the state for promotional activities, instances of movies being shot on its soil have been few and far between.

Old residents still recall the legendary Dev Anand and Hema Malini having flown down in the 1970s to shoot a song sequence of ‘Johnny Mera Naam’ at the remains of the ancient Nalanda university.

Poor crowd management had caused the crew to leave complaining, and it cast a long shadow on the state which, over the years, gained notoriety for lawlessness.

Even film-makers like Prakash Jha, whose major works like ‘Damul’, ‘Mrityudand’, ‘Gangaajal’ and ‘Apaharan’ are based on stories about his home state, have shied away from shooting here.

Exceptions like Richard Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’, Manoj Bajpayee-starrer ‘Shool’ and, most recently, ‘India’s Most Wanted’, which had Arjun Kapoor in the lead role, have done little to make the state, so rich in locales, a favoured destination.

However, Manoj Tiwari, who is credited with producing the biggest-ever Bhojpuri blockbuster ‘Sasura Bada Paise Wala’, and became a household name by lending his voice to ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ foot-tapper ‘Jiya Ho Bihar ke Lala’ before becoming a BJP MP from Delhi, has some suggestions to offer.

“The Bihar government must have in place a corpus fund of Rs 500 crore. The money should be meant to support producers of regional cinema who need initial capital to start a project.

“This is essential to ensure that the new film policy does not remain on paper and that tangible results are seen. We are ready to help Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, leaving aside political differences,” said the BJP MP, whose party now finds itself fighting it out against the CM’s JD(U), a former NDA ally, which has joined the ‘Mahagathbandhan’.

The enthusiasm of Tiwari, who hails from Bhabhua town, is shared by Uttar Pradesh-born Ravi Kishan, a crowd-puller in Bihar by virtue of his status as one of the ‘superstars’ of Bhojpuri cinema.

“Yogi Adityanath government is developing film cities in Gorakhpur and other parts of Uttar Pradesh. There is no dearth of talent and resources in Bihar and there is no reason why the state cannot do the same,” said Kishan, who has also acted in critically acclaimed Bollywood projects like Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Mukkebaaz’, and also happens to be the BJP MP from Gorakhpur.

Regional cinema seems to be the thrust of the state government as well.

Bhojpuri cinema traces its origins to ‘Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo’, a 1963 release based on a screenplay written by noted Bollywood character artiste Nazir Hussain, who also played the main lead.

India’s first president Rajendra Prasad, whose love for his native dialect is well documented, was said to have followed its production keenly and watched a special screening before it hit the screens.

Over the years, Bhojpuri cinema continued to gross money, but fell into disrepute over excessive sleaze in content that has stifled serious filmmakers who want to make movies in the dialect or Maithili and Magahi, which have a smaller, but largely untapped market.

“Our focus is on making Bihar a favoured destination for film-makers of all hues by providing single-window clearance for projects, ensuring safety and security, besides addressing other concerns that producers and directors flagged when I interacted with them at Goa during the film festival.

“We intend to give special incentives like subsidies to those producing films in regional dialects. The drafting of the film policy is in the final stages, and we will make the best of the state’s glorious past and rich heritage, which make it attractive for the entertainment industry,” Rai added.

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