Bidesia in Bambai

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Surabhi Sharma is an independent filmmaker and her feature length documentaries have been screened and awarded at international and national festivals like Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Film South Asia, Kara Film Festival, Festival of Three Continents and Eco Cinema. The films have also been used by grass root campaigns and at universities in both India and abroad.

Surabhi Sharma whose documentary film Bidesia in Bambai  was shown at the Dubai International Film Festival comes after the well-known Rajeev Masand who is a regular at film festivals in the UAE. Surabhi’s documentary film that has created waves in India in smaller villages and towns is a is a story of music, migration and mobile phones and follows the plight of two ambitious singers in Mumbai who occupy extreme ends of the migrant worker’s vibrant music scene, a taxi-driver chasing his first record deal and Kalpana, the star of the industry trying to get a break into Bollywood.

bidesia in bambai

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FFME : A foreigner in your own country, what is the significance of the title?
Surabhi : Bidesia is the one who leaves home and is the Bhojpuri word for Mumbai. 

One in every four migrant in Mumbai is Bhojpuri. They bring with them their vibrant culture that is peppered with song and believe that a lot of songs from the Hindi film industry have been inspired by their songs. The film tracks that pride as well

FFME : Why mobile phones ?
Surabhi : The film bases itself on music, migration and mobile phones. 

Migration is the predominant theme in the music, and the mobile phone is used to circulate the music and stay connected to their homes.

 This music is produced, distributed and consumed by the taxi drivers, sweat shop workers, courier boys and laundry men of the city. 

I could enter the space through music – the music is interesting – religious, sexuality, identity all collapsed into one.FFME : How has the response to the film been with these groups?
Surabhi : The migrant workers are not welcome in the same city they help build. Their homes are deemed illegal and they live in the peripheries and are almost rendered invisible.


FFME : But the migrant workers cannot be blanketed under one category?
Surabhi : My film  follows two singers who occupy the two extreme ends of the music industry:
 Pathak,  a taxi driver who is trying to make it as a singer. Kalpana, the reigning star of the industry for the past ten years who is very popular and her music blares through in taxis and autos, at construction sites and workshops.
FFME : So how do you plan to popularise the film?

Surabhi : I want the film to be pirated ( laughs). Frankly that is the best way to get it across ( laughs). I so wish that I see it outside railway stations with the heaps of DVDs you usually see. Also I want the big music companeis that market Bhojpuri music to watch the film and see if they would like to take it further. It has a unversal appeal.

FFME : You didnt think of renaming the film as Bidesia Mumbai ?

Surabhi : I have a subtitle and the caption helped. It explains the meaning of Bidesia and in the subtitle I have said that Bambai means  Mumbai. Mumbai actually means many cities for many people. Why lose that insight and insist that it is one ?

FFME : Any responses from the audience that stay with you?

Surabhi : While the film has made its circuit across film societies and academic institution space I am eagerly awaiting its screening in Nalasopara where the subjects of this film live. At Azamgarh where it was screened the organisers put me on speaker phone for questions and one response was that the film showed obscene elements of the community instead of the good aspects. I dont see anything as obscene.