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Payback time for Bihari characters in Bollywood
Subhash K. Jha, Oct 2  [ Sun, Oct 2, 2005 ]
Payback time for Bihari characters in Bollywood

  • Mumbai, Oct 2 (IANS) There was a time in Bollywood when only gangsters and their sidekicks belonged to Bihar. All that is changing now. The leading men and women are no longer bashful of portraying Bihari characters.

    The neo-revival of Bihari brotherhood began with Ajay Devgan's portrayal of the ideologically impassioned police officer in Prakash Jha's "GangaaJal".

    Devgan again played a Bihari character in Rituparno Ghosh's "Raincoat", though he didn't try to put on a thick 'Bihari' accent, whatever that might be.

    Prakash Jha locates most of his films, including the latest "Apharan", in Bihar though he never shoots in the state. Neither did Sudhir Mishra whose "Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi" was located partially in the supposedly crime-infested interiors of Bihar.

    Mahesh Manjrekar flew down to Patna to shoot Railway Minister Lalu Prasad in his home turf for the comedy "Padmashri Laloo Prasad Yadav". Earlier Ram Gopal Varma's "Shool" about ideological cop Manoj Bajpai's struggle to remain untarnished was shot on location in north Bihar.

    And decades before that, Dev Anand and Hema Malini had shot the song "O mere raja" in "Johnny Mera Naam" in the Nalanda district of Bihar.

    But for long enough Bihari characters have been painted as slightly scummy in our films. So may be this is payback time.

    Sushmita Sen plays a Bihari prostitute in Kalpana Lajmi's "Chingari".

    And if father Amitabh Bachchan played a Bihari Robin Hood in K.C. Bokadia's "Lal Badshah", then Abhishek did two back-to-back Bihari films in Mani Ratnam's "Yuva" and Rituparno Ghosh's "Antar Mahal".

    "I think I was a Bihari in my last life," jokes Abhishek.

    Tamil superstar Madhavan has done his own bit to propagate the Bihari cause in Bollywood. He plays a Bihari cook, making it big in London with his culinary skills in the comedy "Ramji Londonwale".

    Says Madhavan, "In the original Tamil film 'Nala Damyanthi', one of my favourite actors, Kamal Haasan, had played a Tamil cook in Australia. When we acquired the Hindi rights we decided to turn the Tamil cook into Bihari. It's my homage to my home state," says the actor.

    "I don't think being Bihari is considered that infra-dig anymore. Lalu Prasad has turned Bihar into a state of curiosity.

    "Of course, many of the characters sport unnaturally thick accents. The language of the Bihari characters needs to be worked on. We can't have caricatures posing as real characters. I've made sure my Ramji isn't a caricature."

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