Chhattisgarhi film beats Mohabbatein
Chhattisgarhi film beats Mohabbatein
The story behind the making and release of Mor Chhainha Bhuinya, which has celebrated a 100 day run in Chhattisgarh, is such dramatic fare that it could easily pass off as a good subject for a hit film!
Satish Jain, its writer-producer-director, is not new to the Hindi film world.
Even though he has written films like Panaah, Dulaara, Pardesi Babu, Rajaji and the story of Hadh Kar Di Aapne, Satish saw his future going nowhere in Bollywood.
The worst came when Govinda and director Manoj Agarwal found his Hadh Kar Di Aapne screenplay unsuitable and replaced him, keeping only his story.
Dejected, Satish returned to his hometown, Raipur in Chhattisgarh, with the subject for a Chhattisgarhi film in his mind, a little money in his pocket and a lot of tension.
Making a Chhattisgarhi film was not easy, especially because until then, only two films had been produced in that dialect.
Besides, there was no finance available for the film.
Recalls Satish, “We sold our family land at Rana Pratappur, near Bastar. My brother-in-law also mortgaged his land, while my brother borrowed money from his friends. But we still ran short of money. So my father literally begged for funds, knocking door-to-door in our village. My entire family supported me in my time of need.
“If the film has a running time of only one hour 50 minutes, it is because we decided to do away with the shooting of 20 scenes and a song as we had no money left.”
The compromises were apparent in other departments too.
Satish’s brother Tiku was fond of singing and, to save money, he was ‘made’ a playback singer for the film! A harmonium player from Bombay, Pradeep Pandit, was asked to double up as another playback singer.
The film was mainly shot in Bhilai, besides other places. Once the film’s shooting was completed, Satish thought his woes were over.
But it had only just begun. No distributor was ready to touch the film. Depressed, but not daunted, Satish and his brother decided to distribute the film themselves.
Without any knowledge of distribution, this was only the beginning of a further harrowing experience for the Jain brothers.
Exhibitors were anything but co-operative. Some of those scoffed at the idea of screening a Chhattisgarhi film. But Satish and his brother used all their persuasive powers and released the film in Raipur, Durg and Bilaspur on Diwali (October 27).
The rest, as they say, is history…
The film, which opened with 3 prints, has 12 prints engaged today, 100 days later.
The film completed a hundred day run on February 3 in Raipur, Durg and Bilaspur. Of these, cinemas in Raipur and Bilaspur had five shows daily — an unprecedented record! In Durg too, the film was screened five shows daily for several weeks before it was brought down to four shows.
The blockbuster, which cost less than Rs 15 lakhs to make, is expected to do a business of over Rs 2 crores. It is now heading for a hundred day run at Bhilai, Rajnandgaon, Korba, Dhamtari, Ambikapur and Shakti.
At Rajim, which has a population of 25,000 and only two cinemas, the film is being screened at both cinemas!
State transport buses are doing such brisk business, carrying loads of people to and fro the cinemas screening the hit that new bus-stops have sprung up outside such cinemas at Rajim and other smaller centres.
In fact, people not only come in busloads, but in bullock carts and tractors too! So cinemas halls now display sign boards indicating parking space for the tractors and carts!
In Bhilai, a British lady, running an institute where she teaches students to make video and documentary films, saw the film 70 times! She was so impressed by the film’s message that the education system is not suitable for preparing the youth for jobs, that she even telephoned Satish to congratulate him.
The film is about a family returning to their village after facing tough times in the impersonal city where they had gone with hope and dreams.
The film’s success means that about 25 Chhattisgarhi projects are in various stages of planning and production. Of these, five are in advanced stages of production or post-production.
“The film had a very slow start. In fact, for the first two days, I felt it wouldn’t work. The worst fears overtook me. I would not have had the courage to face my family after what they had done for me. I thought I may have to run away…” Satish recalls.
But the film’s collections picked up from the third day, and the collections have been rising since.
The film, which looked too insignificant to merit a mention in front of the other two Diwali releases — Mohabbatein and Mission Kashmir — soon left the Bollywood flicks far behind in Chhattisgarh.
Satish now plans to add a song to the film. This song, which already appears on the film’s audio cassette, has the names of all the railway stations in Chhattisgarh and may well lure audiences all over again!
The song is scheduled to be shot this month and will be included in all the prints from March. Satish is also contemplating dubbing the film in Bhojpuri.