For a vernacular film industry
that has suffered over the years, the news of a Bhojpuri film
being included in the prestigious Indian International Film
Festival for the first time is seen by its makers as another
Selected for the Indian Panorama at the ongoing 43rd
IFFI, Deswa, made on a shoestring budget, is the first
Bhojpuri film ever to make an entry into the festival.
"We've taken Deswa and Bhojpuri cinema from obscurity
to IFFI. My dream to make good Bhojpuri films with regional
storytelling and international appeal, finally seem to have
been realised," actress-turned-producer Neetu Chandra told
Her director brother Nitin Chandra and their production
team is ecstatic about the IFFI screening.
"When I first received the email from IFFI I could not
believe it. But, I guess our hard work has finally borne
fruit. And, I believe that this is the beginning of the moment
of redemption for the once-beautiful Bhojpuri film industry
which has over the years fallen from grace," said Nitin.
Neetu further emphasised that "she was saddened to see
the contemporary Bhojpuri film industry become synonymous with
sleaze and obscenity".
"Last year I'd announced at the screening of Deswa
during the 'Bihar Diwas' Bhojpuri film festival that we'll
take this to international festivals and now I guess the
moment of reckoning has arrived," said the Traffic Signal
Deswa is the first venture under the 'Champaran
Talkies' banner and is shot completely in Bihar with principal
cast drawn from the theatre-rich regions of the state.
"I now live in Mumbai and the cultural richness of
Marathi theatre and cinema has inspired me so much. Bengali,
Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam among others vernacular cinemas
have championed their regional pride but it is not the case
with Bhojpuri cinema.
"I wanted to rescue our great culture and more
importantly the language (Bhojpuri) which is dying out of the
humiliation it has received over the years. And, that is why
we made Deswa - to redeem our decaying linguistic cultural
heritage," Nitin told PTI.
The director hopes that the film's entry into the
prestigious club of IFFI will only provide a much-needed
fillip to the industry.
"Most Biharis now are embarrassed to use or acknowledge
it (Bhojpuri) as their language and non-Biharis have mostly
reacted to it with derision, born out of the wrong image
conveyed by the current crop of Bhojpuri cinema. I wanted to
change that," said Nitin.
The 132-minute long film features noted folk singers
Sharada Sinha and Bharat Vyas Sharma alongwith popular
Bollywood voices of Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi
Chauhan and Swanand Kirkere.
Marking Nitin's directorial debut, Deswa is a story of
three Bihar youth against the backdrop of migration.
Before the IFFI nod, Deswa was screened at the South
Asia Film Festival and Habitat Film Festival.