M A I N   N E W S

Big B? No, no, it’s Ravi Kissen...
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Not Punjabi, not Haryanvi or even Urdu from across the country’s border. But it is Bhojpuri films that are keeping cash registers ringing at cinema halls in the industrial towns of Punjab and Haryana.

The changing demographic profile of these towns - thanks to the influx of industrial labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar - has led the otherwise sluggish movie business to cash on this class, by catering to them in their very own language. On an average, eight to 10 Bhojpuri movies are released in the Punjab region (comprising Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh) each month. These movies are earning revenue of anything between Rs 3-4 lakh a week. Film distributors in Jalandhar say that with the Bhojpuri films they are able to earn them a distributors’ share of anything between Rs 5000- 10,000 from each cinema hall where the movie is exhibited.

The run of an average movie is two to three weeks, while the more popular movies like “Ganga” (starring Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini) and “Panditji Bataiye Na Biyah Kab Hoi” have run to packed cinemas for almost a month. In fact, this year’s biggest Bhojpuri hit film “Panditji Bataiye Na Biyah Kab Hoi” earned revenue of Rs 6 lakh a week.

So, more than Abhishek Bachchan or John Abraham, it is Ravi Kissen, Manoj Tiwari and Nagma (all Bhojpuri super stars) who are drawing the crowds to theatres in north India. “The trend is more prevalent in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Karnal, Panipat, Faridabad and Gurgaon, which have a huge migrant population. In fact, trade analysts say that the Bhojpuri films do the maximum business in Ludhiana and several theatres near the Industrial Area and the industrial city’s periphery, exclusively exhibit Bhojpuri films,” says Mr Inderjeet Walia, a leading distributor of these films.

Says Mr Surinder Saluja, another film distributor from Jalandhar: “Cinema has always been the common man’s best form of entertainment.

But as the elite shunned cinema halls, these were reserved only for the migrant workers. Since most of these people could not relate to the glamour of Hindi film industry and distributors refused to pay huge sums to buy big star Hindi movies, the cinema business here went for a six.

It was three years ago that Bhojpuri films were introduced in Punjab and other than being popular with the masses, these have also brought back the crowds to the cinema halls”.

Agrees Mr Sohan Lal, manager of Surya Theatre in Haibowal, Ludhiana: “For the past four months, we have been exhibiting only Bhojpuri films. As a result, business has increased by almost 50 per cent. On weekends, Friday - Sunday, most of the shows run houseful”.

Over the years, the cost of production of Hindi films has shot up drastically. Distributors and cinema halls who were finding it difficult to release these films are now turning to Bhojpuri cinema for financial survival.



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