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Jun. 22 2010 - 8:34 am | 155 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Bhojpuri cinema finds fans among Mumbai’s migrants (PHOTOS)

Bhojpuri stars Ravi Kishan and Pakkhi Hegde film a song for an upcoming movie on a set in Malad a suburb of Mumbai. Photo by Hanna Ingber Win

MUMBAI, India — An old man sits at a wooden stand slicing lemons for fresh juice as a group of movie fans gathers at a nearby gate. The collection of rickshaw drivers, taxi drivers and other migrants all eagerly wait to buy tickets for the latest Bhojpuri film. Bhojpuri is a Hindi dialect spoken in India’s northern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and among much of the city’s migrant workers.

One of the men at the gate, Rajaram Chauhan, moved to Mumbai from his village in Uttar Pradesh 10 years ago to earn money to support him and his family back home. Wearing an old orange button-down and loose polyester pants with a hole in the knee, he says he earns 9,000 rupees (US$195) a month working a machine. Every Friday he spends his free time by going to the movies, usually a Bhojpuri film in his language. Asked if the movies remind him of home, Chauhan says: “Why would you ask a question like that? Of course it happens!”

As Bollywood films have increasingly catered to a wealthy, cosmopolitan class of Indians here and abroad, regional cinemas have seen a growth in demand from Indians who can no longer relate to the Hindi movies, according to Kathryn Hardy, a University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. candidate in South Asia studies who is working on a dissertation on Bhojpuri cinema.

Regional cinemas have filled the hole left by Bollywood by producing movies that cater to a local audience through language, themes, music and settings that resonate with them. Bhojpuri films have been around since the 1960s, but the number of movies made each year has jumped in the past decade. About 100 films are now made a year, Hardy said.

Read more about Bhojpuri cinema or scroll down for photos.

Fans wait in line to see a Bhojpuri film at a single-screen theater in Andheri, a suburb of Mumbai. Photo by Hanna Ingber Win

Bhojpuri stars Ravi Kishan and Pakkhi Hegde film a song for an upcoming movie on a set in Malad a suburb of Mumbai. Photo by Hanna Ingber Win


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    About Me

    Hanna Ingber Win is a multi-media journalist based in Mumbai, India. In addition to blogging for True/Slant, she works as GlobalPost's correspondent in Mumbai and marketing consultant. Most recently, Hanna was the founding World Editor of the Huffington Post, and she won InterAction's 2009 Award for Excellence in International Reporting in recognition of the HuffPost's foreign coverage.

    Hanna has also lived and worked in Burma, Thailand, South Africa and the States. She has a passion for telling stories about people and how they live.

    She has covered maternal health in Ethiopia, police misconduct in South Africa, migrant workers in Malaysia, Iraqi refugees in San Diego and juvenile sex offenders in Los Angeles.

    Hanna's freelance work has appeared in Washingtonpost.com, LA Weekly and the Hartford Courant and on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "Day2Day."

    She received her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and her master's in journalism from USC Annenberg, where she was a Dean's Scholar.

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/Hanna_India

    Email: hingber@gmail.com

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    Contributor Since: January 2010