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 PTI.
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 star.
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.