Bhojpuri movies have created a mark in the Indian cinema landscape. The cinema has not shied away from covering political issues in their narratives. In fact, their bold portrayal of political personalities in the story’s narrative has kept Bhojpuri cinema in the centre of controversies.
Though caste forms an important part of life in Bihar including the elections, Bhojpuri cinema has as a whole shied away from depicting caste politics in its movies. There are diverse opinions on both sides of the spectrum and this article aims to analyse both the sides to encourage the reader to create his own opinion with the analysis.
A primary opinion in the favour of the glaring omission of caste politics from Bhojpuri cinema is that the creators provide what the audience demands. The primary consumers of this cinema are the rural lower-class workers who take cinema completely as entertainment and have no higher demand for it.
Pushya Mitra, a Bhojpuri creator from Patna, says: “Take into account the viewers that watch these films. A big part of them are labourers, or folks doing menial jobs in cities removed from dwelling. On the finish of an extended workday, they don’t need thought-provoking stuff. They need issues that may entertain, give amusement, titillate. Caste and so forth. are topics for an extra elite viewer, which desires meals for thought from its cinema. Not for these in search of a fast escape.”
Complex thought processes neither find a need in cinema nor an expression. Jainendra Dost, a filmmaker who runs the Bhikhari Thakur Repertory Training and Research Centre in Chhapra, says: “Bhojpuri movies largely follow the poor-boy-meets-rich-girl Bollywood formula. But the differences are sought to be made about class rather than caste. Also, where the hero does happen to have a lower-caste surname, he is still a traditional feudal ‘dabang’ –village stud, a great fighter, etc.”
After a long day of hard work, Biharis look to entertainment to relax from the day’s toil and indulge themselves. Besides, even though the population experiences caste distinctions in every aspect of its functioning, it lacks enough awareness to critique it and express it through the art of cinema.
Media might be a reflector of the wishes of the audience, but good cinema must also strive to be a reflection of society. And a reflection doesn’t just show what we want to see, only the parts of us that we like, it shows us the complete truth, all of our self in as blunt a statement as there can be. Media must also strive to show its consumers their true state. For we evolve, not by ignoring the plagues in our society, but by choosing to acknowledge them, talking about them and finding solutions together.
The success of unconventional cinema in Bollywood is a stark example that not only is the Indian audience maturing to diversity in content and gender, but also demanding more such content. Let’s choose to acknowledge the existing caste distinction in society, let’s agree to talk about it, question it’s logic, ethics and morality, and strive to rise higher.
Let’s choose not to divide ourselves, not to label one class of citizens superior by ‘virtue’ of their birth and the other inferior by the ‘vice’ of their surname.
Let’s agree to be defined by the label of humanity.
Bambai Main Ka Ba, a Bhojpuri rap, performed by Manoj Bajpayee, who hails from Bihar, made headlines when it was released on 9 September this year. The rap talks about several issues from Bihar, the adverse conditions faced by Bihar migrant labourers in cities, the crisis of Bihar farmers, and the pandemic which forced thousands of Biharis to walk on foot, cycle their way across thousands of kilometres to reach their hometown.
The upcoming Bihar elections have taken an intriguing turn with Lalu Prasad Yadav out of the picture, and Aam Aadmi Party backing out of the state assembly elections. The state desperately needs a ‘Bihar ka Lala’ who is true to the cause of Bihar. Bihar, with the youngest median population in India, has immense scope and opportunities for development.
It’s time Bihar let’s go of the caste loyalties in elections and votes for development. Issues like lack of hospitals, education institutions, telecommunication, employment, and gender equality need to become the core of the election campaigns for Bihar and ultimately the crux of the policies implemented in the state.
Cinema can take upon itself the role of the beacon of light here. Its time news like the Fodder Scam becomes history as a new wave of good governance embraces Bihar to take the state to its true potential.