Bhojpuri cinema history begins in 1962 with the well-received film Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo (“Mother Ganges, I will offer you a yellow sari”), which was directed by Kundan Kumar.Throughout the following decades, films were produced only in fits and starts. Films such as Bidesiya (“Foreigner”, 1963, directed by S. N. Tripathi) and Ganga (“Ganges”, 1965, directed by Kundan Kumar) were profitable and popular, but in general Bhojpuri films were not commonly produced in the 1960s and 1970s.
In the 1980s, enough Bhojpuri films were produced to tentatively make up an industry. Films such as Mai (“Mom”, 1989, directed by Rajkumar Sharma) and Hamar Bhauji (“My Brother’s Wife”, 1983, directed by Kalpataru) continued to have at least sporadic success at the box office. Nadiya Ke Paar is a 1982 Hindi-Bhojpuri blockbuster directed by Govind Moonis and starring Sachin, Sadhana Singh, Inder Thakur, Mitali, Savita Bajaj, Sheela David, Leela Mishra and Soni Rathod.The film ran houseful for years in a movie theatre in Allahabad. However, this trend faded out by the end of the decade, and by 1990, the nascent industry seemed to be completely finished.
The industry took off again in 2001 with the “Silver Jubilee” hit Saiyyan Hamar (“My Sweetheart”, directed by Mohan Prasad), which shot the hero of that film, Ravi Kishan, to superstardom.This success was quickly followed by several other remarkably successful films, including Panditji Batai Na Biyah Kab Hoi (“Priest, tell me when I will marry”, 2005, directed by Mohan Prasad) and Sasura Bada Paisa Wala (“My father-in-law, the rich guy”, 2005). In a measure of the Bhojpuri film industry’s rise, both of these did much better business in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar than mainstream Bollywood hits at the time, and both films, made on extremely tight budgets, earned back more than ten times their production costs. Sasura Bada Paisa Wala also introduced Manoj Tiwari, formerly a well-loved folk singer, to the wider audiences of Bhojpuri cinema. In 2008, he and Ravi Kishan are still the leading actors of Bhojpuri films, and their fees increase with their fame. The extremely rapid success of their films has led to dramatic increases in Bhojpuri cinema’s visibility, and the industry now supports an award show and a trade magazine, Bhojpuri City, which chronicles the production and release of what are now over one hundred films per year. Many of the major stars of mainstream Bollywood cinema, including Amitabh Bachchan, have also recently worked in Bhojpuri films. Mithun Chakraborty’s Bhojpuri debut Bhole Shankar, released in 2008, is considered as the biggest Bhojpuri hit of all time. Also in 2008, a 21-minute diploma film Bhojpuri film by Siddharth Sinha, Udedh Bun (Unravel) was selected for world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, later it won the National Film Award for Best Short Fiction Film.