Sunday December 17, 2017

FAN has made a star, once again

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An inspiring tale of Dr Ranju Sinha who has penned down the song FanAnthem into Bhojpuri.

By Shillpi A Singh

In the sweltering heat, a FAN that is scorching the charts will cool the heart and soul of Bhojpuri music lovers

If you are a die-hard Shah Rukh Khan FAN from the eastern part of India where Bhojpuri is the native language, chances are that you would love to see the superstar groove to a Bhojpuri song. Lo and behold, it has happened sooner than expected. The FAN Anthem from upcoming Shahrukh Khan-starrer has also been recorded in Bhojpuri among other languages. The peppy version has been sung by versatile Manoj Tiwari. It has been penned by none other than Dr Ranju Sinha, a noted lyricist, producer, director, and story writer of Bhojpuri cinema.

It is Sinha’s first outing in the Hindi cinema, and she has managed to create waves with her lyrics. Retaining the essence of original FAN Anthem in Hindi, she has peppered the song with her nuanced choices of frequently spoken Bhojpuri words which has helped the Jabardast fan song strike a chord with Bhojpuri speaking youngsters, making it a big hit in Western Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

A renowned name in the Bhojpuri cine circuit, life is a beautiful coincidence for Sinha. Born in a middle-class family in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on March 15th, 1962, she was married off at the age of 16 to Neelmani Kumar Sinha, a Bihar government official. “I was married off soon after Class 10 exams. I thought marriage meant the end of my academic and creative pursuits. But my parents-in-law and husband proved me wrong. They ensured that I continued my studies and finished my Class 12th, Bachelors, Masters and even got a doctorate,” she said with a lot of pride.

Armed with a doctorate, she joined Raj Narain Singh Inter College, Muzaffarpur, as lecturer in home science department in 2002. By then her two children — daughter Pooja Priyanka and son Pancham Priyam — had been packed off to New Delhi for schooling.

In 2005, her daughter moved to pursue an undergraduate program in audiology and speech therapy at Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai. “My daughter was all alone in Mumbai. She was homesick, so I thought it would be a good idea to move to Mumbai; Pooja would get to stay at home with me and would be able to focus on her studies.”

A homemaker who mostly spent her days and nights taking care of her home and family in Muzaffarpur, Sinha shifted base to Mumbai only to give company to her daughter. She had planned to return home after Pooja completed her studies. As they say, man proposes, God disposes. “Initially, I did not know what to do with a lot of free time in this city. But it made me discover the creative side of my personality which has been the biggest takeaway of being in Mumbai.” She was fond of writing, and for the first few months, all that she did was to contribute articles for magazines and newspapers in Mumbai. Her penchant for writing made her explore options as a lyricist in the film industry. A movie buff, Sinha enjoyed watching the latest releases but she had zilch knowledge about the craft of film-making as she admits today. But she was destined to be part of the film industry.

She said it was her elder brother, Mumbai-based businessman Raman Kumar Bachchan, who helped her in settling here and then in looking for a meaningful creative engagement in the Bhojpuri film industry.  “I started my career by penning devotional songs in Bhojpuri for ‘Chhatt Maharani’ for T-Series.” Dhananjay Mishra had composed the music and songs were sung by Manoj Tiwari and Anuradha Paudwal. “It was a good start for a newcomer. Renowned singers such as Manoj Tiwari and Anuradha Paudwal lent their voices to my words. I was overwhelmed.”

There was no looking back for Sinha after her debut as a songwriter for this devotional album. Buoyed by the success of this venture, she went on to pen devotional songs for two more albums — ‘Chalo Re Sai Dham’ and ‘Sai Base Hain Kan Kan Mein’. Today she is a sought-after lyricist and story writer in the Bhojpuri film industry, having penned songs for hit movies such as Sautan, Ajab Devra ke Gazab Bhaujai, Niruha Banal Don, Rangbaaz and Jai Ho Jagdamba Mai. But that’s not all. She successfully forayed into film production and direction under her home banner, Gauri Shankar Arts Private Limited. She has produced half-a-dozen movies, notable among them being Jai Ho Jagdamba Mai, Chandrika, Preet Bada Anmol, Paro Patna Wali and soon-to-be-released Hindi movie, Raazdariyan.

“In a way, I am in the best phase of my life. My children are doing well. Pooja is married to Dr Shashank Kumar, a dentist here in Mumbai, and the couple has a two-year-old son Dhwanit. My son Pancham is currently working as Project Manager in NIIT Technologies in London.” So does she intend to leave Mumbai and return to her roots? “As of now, my hands are full. There is so much to do that I can’t even think of doing so by any means. I can’t even afford to take a break from work.”

Recalling her long association with Tiwari, Sinha said, “We go back a long way. His voice has the Midas touch. It did wonders to my just launched career way back in 2006. I am blessed to have him lend his voice for the Bhojpuri version of FAN Anthem.” Lauding his contributions in promoting the language across the world and making it popular even among the non-Bhojpuri speaking population, Sinha said, “Manoj is a talented person. He can sing, dance, act and not just that, he is an active Parliamentarian too, representing BJP from North East Delhi constituency in the Lok Sabha. He is doing a lot for making Bhojpuri popular, both among the masses and classes.”

Tiwari, whose “Jiya Ho Bihar Ke Lala” for Anurag Kashyap’s critically acclaimed Gangs of Wasseypur was his first Bhojpuri song for a mainstream Hindi movie, seemed quite impressed with Sinha’s style of writing. He said, “Ranju has entered Bollywood with a bang. She has used catchy words, which have an instant connect with youngsters, and that is what will help catapult Bhojpuri songs in the big league,” adding, “Her words show her intellectual depth and command over the language. Ranju has managed to carve a niche for herself in this industry in a short span of time, and that is quite commendable. She has brought credibility and respect to Bhojpuri with her songs, something which was lost over the years, thanks to vulgar, double-meaning songs penned by some lyricists.”

Like Tiwari, Sinha too is proud of her roots and said, “I owe my success to my language. I am what I am because of Bhojpuri.”

However, the call from Yashraj Films was quite surprising for both artistes. While Sinha initially dismissed it as a prank call, Tiwari couldn’t believe that he had actually got a call from YRF for singing a song for their upcoming movie. “When I checked with the production house, I realized it was indeed true. I was over the moon,” he said.

Both Tiwari and Sinha are self-proclaimed fans of SRK. The Bhojpuri FAN Anthem is popular among the masses. Nowadays, Tiwari is flooded with requests to sing the FAN Anthem during his stage shows. He said, “People start screaming, ‘E dilwa tohre jabardast ab toh fan ho gayil’, on seeing me. The crowd goes berserk. I am just cashing in on this popularity.”

Talking about her FAN moment, Sinha said, “It is a dream come true for someone like me to write a song for the superstar. SRK’s forthcoming movie is about how a fan makes a star. In my case too, I would say, FAN has made me an overnight star.”

The author can be contacted at shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com

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National Award winning lyricist Na Muthukumar passes away at 41 in Chennai

In a career lasting over a decade, he wrote around 1,000 songs and holds a special record for penning 103 songs in 2012

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Na Muthukumar via his Facebook page

Chennai, August 14,2016: National Award winning lyricist Na Muthukumar died here on Sunday due to jaundice, a source said. He was 41.

“He passed away at his residence. He was suffering from high fever and succumbed to jaundice,” the source close told IANS.

When he began his career, he wanted to be a director. It was with the 2000 release Tamil film “Veera Nadai” that Muthukumar started his journey as a lyricist.

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In a career lasting over a decade, he wrote around 1,000 songs. He holds a special record for penning 103 songs in 2012.

Most popular for his collaboration with composers Yuvan Shankar Raja and G.V Prakash, he reportedly wrote over 200 songs in the latter’s composition.

“Can’t believe this. Na Muthukumar is no more… He’s written more than 200 songs in my films. A huge loss. May god give strength to his family,” Prakash tweeted.

“My music career started with his lyric in veyilodu vilayadi … He had written all the songs in #KIK ,” he added.

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Prakash added that his musical career started with Muthukumar’s song “Veyilodu Vilayadi” from the National Award winning Tamil film “Veyyil”.

via alchetron.com
via alchetron.com

Two of his songs “Aanandha Yazhai Meetugiraai” (from “Thanga Meengal”) and “Azhage Azhage” (from “Saivam”) fetched him National Awards.

Some of his other popular songs include “Suttum Vizhi”, “Devathaiyai Kandaen”, “Mun Andhi” and “Venillave”. (IANS)

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Exclusive: Kranti Prakash woos audience with his credible, calculated and convincing act

Mithila Makhaan the National Award winner film and its journey

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Stills from the movie. Image source Kranti Jha
NewsGram presents an exclusive tête-à-tête with the cast and crew of this year’s National Award winning Maithili film, Mithila Makhaan. In the fourth part of the series, actor Kranti Prakash Jha shares his thoughts with Shillpi A Singh on his pleasant and eventful journey, the onscreen portrayal of the young and the restless youth of Bihar, and how films can help change the popular perception and misconception about Bihar and its people.       
“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” This quote by Che Guevara seems the aptest description for actor Kranti Prakash Jha, the actor who has made a splash in the regional language cinema with his realistic performance in the National Award-winning Maithili film, Mithila Makhaan, Bhojpuri film Deswa and its Hindi remake, Once Upon a Time in Bihar. The actor has another ace up his sleeve: he has co-written the dialogues of Mithila Makhaan with director Nitin Neera Chandra. The beautiful coincidences in Kranti’s life made a Civil Services aspirant to come to the City of Dreams, make a pit stop in the glitzy modelling circuit and move on to scorch the silver screen all of these have been revolutionary moves, to say the least. And they have been guided by a great feeling of love of life that has changed the course of this boy from Bihar’s life forever and for better.
Stills from Mithila Makhaan. Image source Kranti Prakash Jha
Stills from Mithila Makhaan. Image source Kranti Prakash Jha
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Twists and turns 
Kranti was born in Begusarai, known as the Industrial Capital of Bihar and the birthplace of great Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar. It also has a great historical relevance as it was part of the Magadha Kingdom. That perhaps explains Kranti’s choice of history as a subject for his undergrad and postgrad studies. An alumnus of Hindu College, Delhi University, he took the road often travelled by men of his ilk from Bihar — sit for the Civil Services exam. He slogged day and night but somehow failed to make the cut for UPSC exams. Dejected and disappointed to the core, he came Mumbai for a short vacation but stayed on to make the Maximum City his home. “Man proposes, God disposes,” he said summing up the story. He entered the Grasim Mr India contest by chance, and from there moved on to modelling. “I had a zilch expectation making it. I filled the form just for fun. But I am glad that I got selected, and it has been the most enriching and fulfilling career experience.” He did print and television commercials for brands such as LIC, Raymonds, Pepsodent, Hyundai, among many others, before taking the big leap to the silver screen, albeit in the regional language cinema.
Homeward Bound? 
For the young actor, acting is a heuristic teaching method. “Being in front of the camera, emoting, mouthing lines and living under the skin of the character encourages me to learn, discover, understand, and solve problems, by experimenting, evaluating and in the process improvising and improving as well.”
With his affable, adorable and believable portrayal of the young and the restless in yesterday’s and today’s Bihar in three of his outings — Mithila Makhaan, Deswa and Once Upon a Time in Bihar — Kranti has done it and done it with pride. He debuted in Deswa and cast a spell on Bhojpuri cine-lovers with his portrayal of a civil services aspirant in Bihar of the Nineties, who along with two others are forced to enter the world of crime after all their efforts and ambitions are thwarted. The trio lands in jail, and finally, when they are released in the Naughties, they find that the state of affairs in Bihar has changed.
Deswa. Image source Kranti Jha
Deswa. Image source Kranti Jha
He repeated the feat in Mithila Makhaan by essaying the role of an educated and affluent Toronto-based NRI, who returns to change the face of his native village with his entrepreneurial skills. With this role, Kranti has not only explored the vast expanse of his acting calibre but also given a sneak peek into the enormous potential and promise that he holds for the big screen. “The village which was ravaged by Kosi deluge serves as the perfect backdrop and evokes a sense of belonging in the male protagonist, Kranti, forcing him to give it all in Toronto and head homewards. It is a journey of trials and tribulations and how he takes a step, stumbles, fall and then rises again to set up a flourishing fox nut business in the village. The protagonist takes the Make in India idea a step further with his collective effort to bring back the glory of Mithilanchal region and instil pride in people about their culture.”
He will be seen in Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer MS Dhoni: The Untold Story.
Kranti Prakash Jha at National Award ceremony. Image source Kranti Jha
Kranti Prakash Jha at National Award ceremony. Image source Kranti Jha
Screen Wise
Kranti has beautifully shifted gears in the film, essaying the role of a suave NRI and rustic Maithili speaking man with ease. Maithili being his mother tongue was another advantage, and his dialogue delivery in chaste Maithili only adds to the charm of his onscreen character, Kranti, who takes immense pride in speaking in it. The actor succinctly put forth his thoughts in these words — “Agar hum aaye kahan se hain ye pata nahi hoga toh jana kahan hai ye bhi pata nahi chalega (If we are unaware of where we have come from, then no matter how hard we try, we will not be able to know where we have to go).” He pitied how today’s younger generation had been brought up in only Hindi and English. “In the mad rush, youngsters have lost touch with their native language, which could be Bhojpuri, Maithili, Awadhi, Magahi or Angika. These languages are dying, and hopefully, regional language cinema will give it a new lease of life. We must remember that our mother tongue is our identity, and it needs respect,” he said.
A Bihari to the core, he has tried to be the best from Bihar in the roles that he has essayed on screen. “The story, dialogues and screenplay all of it has aimed to dispel the negative notions that people have about Bihar and Biharis.” The belief and pride in being from Bihar helped him do justice to the demands of his roles in both his films.
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Wooing the Audience
The film has had three screenings in India — Patna, New Delhi and Pune — and had a world premiere at the recently concluded International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) in Toronto. And the audience was left spellbound with his performance. “His acting is credible, calculated and a class apart. The regional language cinema in Bihar and Jharkhand needs actors like him and filmmakers like Nitin Neera Chandra, who can help restore the dignity of Bhojpuri and Maithili films, and reclaim that lost identity. Those who promote crass and vulgar stuff in the name of commercial demands need to do a reality check,” said Anshuman Sinha, music therapist and movie buff, who happened to watch the film’s screening in Patna. It is unfortunate that despite all efforts, and winning the National Award, most of the regional language films get limited to the festival circuits. Like it happened with Deswa, the first Bhojpuri movie to be part of the Indian Panorama at the International Film Festival of India, Goa, and having been part of many film festivals across the globe but could never get a theatrical release. “Deswa and Once Upon a Time in Bihar are expected to be out on Muvizz.com in July. And Mithila Makhaan is likely to hit the theatres after monsoons,” Kranti said.
Actor Kranti Prakash Jha with Mithila Makhaan's director Nitin Neera Chandra in Toronto. Image Source Kranti Jha
Actor Kranti Prakash Jha with Mithila Makhaan’s director Nitin Neera Chandra in Toronto. Image Source Kranti Jha
History in the Making 
Mithila Makhaan has many firsts to its credit. It was the first film to be shot across four countries — USA, Canada, India and Nepal and the first film ever made in Maithili from the twin states of Bihar and Jharkhand to win a National Award, a befitting tribute to Maithili cinema on its golden anniversary. It was the first ever film to have a world premiere at IFFSA. It is also part of the upcoming Jagran Film Festival. And last but not the least, it has certainly changed the popular perception about regional language cinema from Bihar and Jharkhand. “Hard work with honesty always bears fruits”, and the result is Mithila Makhaan bagging the National Award. I always used to wonder how “rashtriya puraskar se sammanit” would sound and after being bestowed with this honour, I feel overwhelmed and on top of the world,” he said on the Maithili film’s astounding win at the 63rd National Film Awards.
The history student is indeed on his way to make history in the world of cinema. Way to go, Kranti!
(In the next part, we will get up, close and personal with the female lead of the award-winning film. So watch out for this space!)
Shillpi is a freelancer with NewsGram. She may be reached at: shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 
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Exclusive: Director Nitin Chandra leaves Maithili Cine-lovers shocked and awed with ‘Mithila Makhaan’

The film was one among the three films that had a world premiere at the recently concluded International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) in Toronto

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Filmmaker Nitin Neera Chandra receiving the National Award for Best Film in Maithili for Mithila Makhan. Photo credit: Nitin Neera Chandra

by Shillpi A Singh

NewsGram presents an exclusive tête-à-tête with the cast and crew of this year’s National Award winning Maithili film, Mithila Makhaan. In the second part of the series, Shillpi A Singh gets you the story of how director Nitin Neera Chandra scripted history in the regional language cinema with his outings in Bhojpuri and Maithili.

“A crisis creates the opportunity to dip deep into the reservoirs of our every being, to rise to levels of confidence, strength, and resolve that otherwise we didn’t think we possessed.” These words by Jon Meade Huntsman Sr, an American businessman, and philanthropist, beautifully sum up the story behind the making of National Award winning Maithili film Mithila Makhaan by Nitin Neera Chandra, and to some extent his astounding career path. And mind you, he’s barely three films old. His directorial debut Deswa, in Bhojpuri, has left an indelible mark on the history of regional cinema, widely acclaimed and feted in the national and international film circuits for its gritty portrayal of the state of affairs in Bihar.

Dinesh Bhatia, Consul General of India in Canada, with film director Nitin Neera Chandra and actor Kranti Prakash Jha in Toronto. Photo credit: Nitin Neera Chandra

Close on its heels was Deswa’s Hindi remake Once Upon A Time in Bihar that created ripples for raising socio-political issues, authentic setting and storyline, and believable performances by its star cast. His third one, Mithila Makhaan, has catapulted the Maithili language cinema to the world stage and caught the fancy of filmgoers all over.

The film was one among the three films that had a world premiere at the recently concluded International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) in Toronto. Mithila Makhaan was the only one in Maithili to be part of IFFSA, touted as the biggest South Asian Film Festival in North America, in its five years history that witnessed participation of the film fraternity from across the globe.

The poster of the film Mithila Makhaan. Image source: Nitin Neera Chandra
The poster of the film Mithila Makhaan. Image source: Nitin Neera Chandra

Though it was Chandra’s second outing at IFFSA, first one was for Bhojpuri film Deswa, but it was truly an enlightening experience. “I am indebted to the Festival organisers for giving a global platform to my maiden venture in Maithili. It feels great to get a pie of the huge slice of adulation that IFFSA commands in North America. The affection and attention are motivating enough to make me say that I will surely come again to show Champaran Talkies’ next, Ladaku and Company Ustad, to the world.”

Sibling Revelry
Chandra hails from Dumraon, in Buxar district, which also happens to be the birthplace of Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan. Born in a modest family in Bihar’s capital Patna, he has two other siblings —  sister Neetu and brother Abhishek. While his brother is a costume designer, sister is an established actor of Hindi cinema and also the “honorary producer” of all his creative ventures. He completed his initial schooling from Patna and then like most others, moved to the Capital of the country for his undergraduate degree.

“Moving to Delhi for studies is like a rite for most natives of Bihar and it was no different in my case. It seemed like a natural progression,” he said. After completing the first lot of studies there, he moved to Pune, in Maharashtra, for his Masters in Media Research from the Department of Communication Studies, at the University of Pune.

Change of Course
As a student in Pune, he witnessed the anti-Bihar movement that was rampant on the campus and to some extent in the state, in the early Naughties. “The state of affairs in Maharashtra was disturbing. I was appalled to see the way people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were being treated. The attitude was certainly not in consonance with the state’s remarkable contribution in every field. It spoke volumes of ignorance, and this ignorance didn’t spell bliss for Biharis in general and students from the state in particular.” A baffled Chandra went on to make a short film “The Outsider” on the raging issue. In a way, the campus crisis made him change the course of his studies, from media research to film production. His first documentary “Bring Back Bihar: Moment of Awakening” was screened at various forums in India and abroad. Having a sister who is a famous actor, it was expected that he would sooner or later foray into films, but not many thought that he would go behind the camera and don a director’s hat.

The Crisis Call
In August 2008, heavy rains and poor maintenance caused a breach in the Kosi embankment near the India-Nepal border. The river Kosi, also called the Sorrow of Bihar, changed its course, wreaking havoc in parts of Bihar and neighbouring Nepal, and spelling misery in the 14 districts of the Mithilanchal region of the state. The disastrous floods that followed Kosi deluge changed the course of Chandra’s career. He witnessed the tragedy first-hand while working for an NGO in the flood-affected districts of the Mithilanchal region of Bihar and neighbouring Nepal. The catastrophe that the river had brought, the plight of people and subsequent migration of people to safer places in search of a better life and means of livelihood triggered his thought process. “The state needs not just job-seekers, but job creators who can make a more meaningful contribution to the state and help control widespread migration,” he said.

Screen smart
It was while travelling along the banks of rivers Kosi and Baghmati in the flood-ravaged villages that he conceived the idea of Mithila Makhaan. “I saw how people had lost not only their lives but also their livelihood. The raging river destroyed the standing crops, flattened houses and left thousands of people dead and lakhs stranded. I was part of the relief operation, but it was a short-term help and way too little for those affected by the deluge.” There is great catharsis in great pain and then something that is sublime. He made a documentary “Boya Ped Babool Kaa” narrating the catastrophe and his first-hand experiences of the worst tragedy in Bihar’s history.
He was back in Mumbai, but the images of the worst floods in Bihar’s history haunted him. “My determination to tell a story and motivate people to come and do their bit in being part of the change in Bihar grew stronger with the passage of time,” he said. The crisis created an opportunity for Chandra, lighting the creative spark and kick-starting his film career in some way. And the rest is history in the making, at least for the regional language cinema from the twin states of Bihar and Jharkhand.

A Son of the Soil
The movie-making exercise helps vent his creative fury on a larger canvas and satiate himself, in some measures, that he is doing whatever it takes to change Bihar and Jharkhand’s image in the minds of people at large. He set the ball rolling with his first film Deswa that changed the popular perception about Bhojpuri films. It wasn’t loud and brash unlike other films in the language that came as a refreshing change and caught the young cine-goers’ fantasy. “The film didn’t have any distasteful content or anything that smack of vulgarity. In fact, it boasted of a realistic storyline, and believable performances. It was a promising start and a sincere attempt to pull the native language speakers back to theatres,” he said. The 2011 film is a set against the theme of lawlessness in Bihar in the late Nineties and early Naughties and has serious political undertones as it depicts the state’s turnaround over a period of six years through the protagonists.
His attempt provided the much-needed facelift to Bhojpuri cinema, and it drew rave reviews from the masses and classes alike. The film was screened and lauded at the International Film Festival of India, International Film Festival of South Asia, Montage Film Festival, Habitat World Film Festival and International Film Festival of Fiji.
He also went on to remake Deswa in Hindi as Once Upon a Time in Bihar with the same star cast — Ashish Vidyarthi, Pankaj Jha, Kranti Prakash Jha, Arti Puri, and Deepak Singh — in the lead roles; the film was released last year.

Shock and Awe
From Bhojpuri, he moved on to explore cinematic opportunities in another regional language, Maithili, for his next, Mithila Makhan. Set against the backdrop of the 2008 Kosi deluge, the film poignantly captures the plight of those who faced the river’s wrath, losing lives, land, and livelihood to it. The protagonists of the movie try to breathe a new lease of life in the barren, lifeless village through their novel ways. They help revive two important sources of livelihoods — the first one being fox nut cultivation for the men, it’s processing, packaging and marketing, and the second one being preserving and promoting Maithili paintings by engaging the womenfolk of the village. “The film tries to instil pride, respect and a sense of belonging to one’s culture, traditions, language, literature, food, dress, song, music, dance and above all the way of living. These elements form our identity and should be preserved and promoted for the future generation. Or else we will lose ourselves,” said Chandra.
The other overbearing theme is to introduce the best of Mithilanchal to the world and get the youth involved in the development and progress of their immediate surrounding and promote the idea of Make in India. To sum up, “It is a back-to-the-roots story, told with great sincerity, about a courageous youthful rescue effort happening in Bihar.”

Festival Circuit
The film has managed to get ample attention at the recent world premiere at IFFSA, Toronto, and screening at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi, and the National Film Archives of India, Pune. “The film was screened to a packed house at IFFSA. Many ladies had come to watch our film Mithila Makhaan. Not all of them came from Bihar or Jharkhand. They came from different social backgrounds and hailed from various parts of India. Their presence at the screening of a Maithili film was overwhelming,” said Chandra. Syed Ali Abbas, who watched the world premiere at IFFSA, was bowled over with the film’s presentation and how it had managed to capture the attention of the younger generation, who could relate to the characters and issues dealt deftly in the film. “Mithilaa Makhaan is a great movie and the effort and initiative behind its making is commendable. The best part was that it had managed to capture the attention of the new generation, like a teenager who has been raised in North America all along. It proves that you have accomplished your mission with this movie. Hope to see more in the coming years.”

Wooing the Audience
The scene in Pune was no different. It saw students and people from all walks of life and hailing from the twin states thronging NFAI Auditorium to watch the National Award winning film. “I am glad that a young man (Nitin Chandra) dared to challenge the age-old cinematic stereotypes about Bihar in particular and Biharis in general. The film will help dispel the misconceptions that people have about Bihar,” said Sushma Srivastava. Many like her didn’t want to miss the opportunity, more so because it was a matter of pride for them to see a film in their native language winning the National Award, the first of its kind honour for a regional language cinema from Bihar and Jharkhand. “It is an amazing feeling that our films Deswa and Mithila Makhaan are now at NFAI. It is a rare opportunity to see our films being part of the film archives, along with works of other great Indian filmmakers. We are here to create a rich legacy in our regional languages,” said Chandra.

Road Ahead
The director firmly believes that regional language cinema will be a force to reckon with in the days to come. He said, “This will be because English will take over Hindi but regional languages will survive especially in the South, Punjab, Bengal, and Maharashtra.” He emphatically asserted that “no film in any language is regional, but there is regional language cinema. And if cinema was regional, then Satyajit Ray’s films would not be taught at the New York University.” His sister Neetu was in agreement with him on this subject. “Films are never regional, languages are. We have made global films in regional languages,” she proudly said.
He added that it is high time that the younger generation comes forwards and does its bit in preserving and promoting the native languages such as Bhojpuri, Maithili, Magahi, Avadhi, etc. He quoted an interesting anecdote to bring forth the point. “While travelling from Mumbai to London, I saw an 83-year-old Gujarati lady, who was sitting next to me, and watching a Gujarati film and enjoying it thoroughly.” Do we take that kind of pride when it comes to a film in Bhojpuri or Maithili? he tersely asked. If we don’t, then whom do we blame for the degradation of regional language cinema? The fault lies in our myopic approach. “We want the entire country to know about a Maithili film winning the National Award but have we done enough to give it the kind of respect it deserves in its home states.”

Activist to the Core
Chandra calls himself a “fire on the social networking sites”, and rightly so. He has been quite vociferous in expressing his thoughts on matters that matter to an ordinary man, from over speeding vehicles to Board results to brutal rape of a girl in a village in Madhubani, Bihar, to the ban of liquor in his native state. He dares to express his views and draws a lot of appreciation from his fans and followers. His posts are poignant and touching sometimes, hilarious and newsworthy on most occasions. In one of his recent posts, he urged parents to accept their child’s results in Class 10 and 12 Board exams heartily and refrain from judging them based on their scores because every child is brilliant in one or the other way. “Encourage and never compare your kids with anyone. It will scar them for life,” he wrote in his FB post. After Bihar was officially declared a dry state, he posted parodies of famous Hindi songs that will be played in the times of prohibition. But even on this platform, it is Bihar that wins hands down, finding a mention in 90% of his post. That’s a subject closest to his heart. And will always be.

 In the next part, we will get up, close and personal with the stars of the award-winning film. So watch out for this space!

Shillpi is a freelance contributor at NewsGram. She may be reached at:  shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 

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