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However, her unfamiliarity with the nuances of Bhojpuri also makes her a stranger to her adoptive profession.
Sharma goes to a lot of testosterone-charged, male dominated spaces, which can seem both exclusive and intimidating to a woman.
For Sharma, visible markers of her class and her profession helped her to negotiate these spaces. No one is trying to test the power equation.” This equation brings forth a benign, accommodating facet rarely associated with these migrants.
This one then is a fitting rejoinder: pulsating with energy, music and striking visuals.
In the age of You Tube, Bhojpuri music is ubiquitous and yet very few people attempt to understand its context before judging it.
Surabhi Sharma’s documentary is a sharp, gritty account of the numerous faceless Bihari migrants—battling for space, identity, and empowerment—and the ways in which music gives them a sense of purpose. He earns a living from driving a cab, but as the documentary unfolds, his real calling is revealed: writing and singing Bhojpuri songs.
The double life of Pathak is a fascinating story in itself but his struggle to belong in his adoptive city makes it more complex.It’s an interesting coincidence that the opening shot of Bidesia in Bambai is similar to that of Dhobi Ghat— an overcast Mumbai evening shot from the taxi lumbering on the road; introducing us to the protagonists, both migrants, solely through their voices.But, unlike Dhobi Ghat, Bidesia in Bambai is not an exotic, romantic take on the city.It keeps cutting back to the hapless state they often find themselves in—their houses and music studios are frequently demolished—and the grit with which they keep at it, rebuilding, even retaliating, when pushed to the brink.During a live show, someone from the audience throws a stone at one of the performers on stage.“I, as a documentary filmmaker, am really caught up with, and very critical of my gaze,” says Sharma.“I have a huge problem if there are moments when people are laughing at what’s happening on the stage.Even though he has lived in Mumbai for over 15 years, it is still “Bambai” for him, and he, a Bidesia here (someone who leaves home).On the other end of the spectrum—both financially and artistically—is Kalpana Patowary, a singer from Assam, who is now a renowned singer in the Bhojpuri music industry.Bidesia in is a strong counter-point to such cultural parochialism.A lot of it results from where Sharma places herself in the film.