Up, close and personal with Nitin Neera Chandra

You wanted a college degree from the best institutes in your country but couldn’t really get around it. Years later you do make yourself somebody from nobody and the same colleges which you once hoped to get a degree from, invite you and your work as an example to their current students. Does this sound familiar?
Well Bill gates was one such person and Nitin Neera Chandra is another whose extra ordinary work was invited in IIM and IIT. PatnaBeats happened to get up close and personal with him to ask about him and to know his opinion on various subjects. Here is what he had to say

Please tell us something about your early life.

Nitin Neera Chandra: I have lived in 5 different places in Mumbai, before this I was doing my Masters and Research at University of Pune, studied film there, did my grad from Delhi, till class 12th I was in Patna. I have travelled few countries, have been into a few relationships, in and out. Nothing exotic about my early life apart from exciting stories I write and arrange investment to bring them on celluloid. ha ha..

What was it like growing up in Patna? Please share a memory from your childhood days

Nitin Neera Chandra: Those were the days of madness, innocence and crazy dreams, loitering around Alpana Market, Patliputra colony, playing cricket at the AN college ground.
Going behind some NDA, Krishna Niketan girls, Carmel girls. St. Joseph Convent was quiet far. Don Bosco was co-ed and was as dry as it could be. Patna was great, Houses in Patliputra colony had people, there was a sense of belongingness in people. Patna was not a mess, it was not a quagmire of shattered hopes, there was barely a migrant crowd polishing their skills to escape for greener pastures. Patna was everything which is no more existing.
I used to play cricket at GAC Gardanibagh and wanted to be a cricketer but that dream also shattered after year 2000. We were a joint family so 22 people living in one Building called “Chandra Sadan” was quiet a riot in itself. For me, childhood was like a daily feast. It was good in the 90s. I have seen the transition from landlines to Mobile phones when incoming were charged 6 rupees for a minute, from Ration shops to Internet cafes when it was Rs 150 per hour and there was a cyber cafe in Boring Canal Road and e-mail id on usa.net. Many of those reading this will think I am talking of some primitive times. But no. Patna of early period is left only in memories and in the shoddiest of the lane, marred with escapism and insensitivity as I perceive now.

If you have to state one thing about Patna that you admire, what would that be? Also what would be that one thing that you would like to change in your city ?

Nitin Neera Chandra: Its a really tough question. I admire the spirit of survival which makes every Bihari youth leave the state. But that spirit itself is self defeating proposition for an “admirable” Patna. See, I am not a politician, not a pacifier or a negotiator, I will speak my mind. I am a conscious person who has travelled across the world and lived in 22 states of India. I have a larger world view and honestly for me its hard to find one thing which is great about Patna.
Patna has become a mesh of honking unorganised traffic, cars blowing out smoke making it one of the top polluted cities of the world, unruly crowd mostly, a town which looks like a classified news paper which is mostly kept aside. The billion banners, posters, billboards of brands to political parties to pornographic Bhojpuri films, boards and what not of all size and color makes Patna exactly the way people think about it at far reaching places. Its a mess. Yeah, there are a few people who live in the city who are really hard working. Some historical sites, but by the end of it, its all History, covered under the dust of abominable present. Oh yes, roads have been good, but aren’t we talking about roads since 40 years now. Someone said, world’s longest wi fi. Oh yes and what to do with wi fi ? Politicians have done there best to push the talented and honest people out of the state. I have a first hand experience. Don’t expect me to say all flowery things, I will tell you the bare facts irrespective of what readers want to hear. Patna is a big concrete slum now and I feel sad for this fact. Only thing I want to change in this city is people’s sensitivity, which is abjectly at horrendous levels.

What made you choose Film-making as a career ?

Nitin Neera Chandra: Apparently, I never chose film-making, film making chose me. You can not choose art, art will choose you. You have to open your wings in the vast expanse of the world, and go for a reverie with your eyes wide open and a conscious heart. Brain often manipulates, I am a heart person. So, find your trance and be what you want to. But before that know what all is there in space. So, there you are, art chose you as you kept exploring the world inside you and went on for finding you and yourself in the world out side. I hope I am making sense. Read it twice incase. 🙂 

You recently won National award for your film Mithila Makhaan, but there has been no recognition from state government. Does this lack of support demotivate you ?

Nitin Neera Chandra: I am a very modest person. Sometimes, I am conscious enough so that I don’t give an impression that I have any airs about myself whatsoever. Frankly speaking, Govt. of Bihar needs help. I could have helped them but they lost that opportunity. Recently I saw the government, offering adulations and respect to porn stars of Bhojpuri films in a film festival in Patna. Government of Bihar is showering tax payers money on people who have brought shame to you, me and millions of Biharis across the globe. In such a scenario, I would deter myself from taking any recognition whatsoever from the Govt of Bihar, the government which is poor in their ideas and bankrupt in their vision.
President of India is the highest recognized person in India and he has already awarded me. I am not a greedy person. Govt of Bihar need to read unwritten manuals of giving respect and acknowledgement to the national and International fame artists who slog to bring recognition to their state and language and people, those who are creating legacy. Frankly speaking govt of Bihar is in deep crevice and has created an environment of hopelessness. But I am totally undeterred by nincompoops sitting in the Art and Culture department of Bihar government. They need serious help. I have been receiving accolades from Ministers, bureaucrats, Universities and organisations across 15 countries. Govt. of Bihar recognising my work would be like a goat inviting Elephant for dinner. They just can not afford me. Having said this, I remain modest to the best of my knowledge and continue to work for My state and people. Governments will come and go, Bihar will remain, your and my kids should not get that Bihar and should not become the “Bihari” that the politicians have created. They need a respectful identity. Come what may, we must seek change and believe that we can change and work for it to deliver. We need to create legacy for the next generation, unlike the last generation which totally failed to bring any good to Bihar.

In continuation to above question, the movie is yet to find finance for its release. What do you think is the reason behind this ?

Nitin Neera Chandra:  Yes, movie is yet to find an investor. There are many reasons. I was seeing an interview 2 days back of a girl in Patna talking with one of the actress of Hindi films. The actress hails from Bihar. The girl who was interviewing is also the victim of the same insensitivity which most of Biharis are including those sitting in higher echelons. She absolutely did not know, what one should ask an actress who is the main lead of the only National Award winning film from Bihar in last 70 years. Biharis barely know what exactly is to be done with their land, languages, literature, people and culture by large. So, those who are stuck by McDonalds and KFCs and think Patna has “changed” have to notice that there is Litti chokha and sattu still on footpaths and Thelas and any body thinking that litti and chokhaa and sattu items are supposed to be sold only on streets like this, then they need to travel this country and do a reality check of their own self and sensitivity and sense of ownership for Bihar. Now, financiers are the same people who are from the land, and have no sense of ownership so why would they open a Litti restaurant of world class, rather they will take franchisee of another Mc Donalds or even a Jumbo Vada Paaw or Pind Balluchi and go ahead sell Mumbai, Punjab and America to Biharis. Governments and intelligentsia over the last 5 – 7 decades have flayed the very fabric of Bihar. But I am have not lost hope, I am making more and more bhojpuri Maithili content Magahi content, I have people who are supporting my cause. Investors in Bihar or from Bihar are profit seekers, not identity builders. We sell Dandiya to Biharis who don’t know D of Dandiya. Someone needs to talk about Jhumar and Jhijhiya.

You have nailed the art of making movies in regional language. Is there any particular reason that you prefer regional language over Hindi ?

Nitin Neera Chandra: First thing, there is nothing calling “art of making regional language movies”. Its cinema and its Universal. Hindi, Punjabi, gujrati, tamil, Bangla is not our language, I mean not the languages of Bihar or Jharkhand or even Uttar Pradesh. My mother tongue is Bhojpuri and I have relatives who speak maithili and Magahi too. So, again its not about choosing or not choosing, I make films in my languages, in your languages, in languages of people living in Bihar. Hindi is commonly spoken language in various part of India. But my culture and identity doesn’t come from Hindi, my pride as a bihari which needs a total rebuilding will not happen in Hindi. So, any bihari who is stuck with hindi literature language and cinema can not contribute to the holistic development of Bihar and its identity.
For e.g. Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Renu, Benipuri, etc are national figures but how much have they worked for their own languages. But when it comes to Vidyapati and Bhikhari thakur, Mahender Misir remain the icons, its Sharda Sinha’s voice which will revoke the Bihari in you. Its the chhath songs, its the shaadi songs, its the language of grandmother which makes us feel at home and that is not Hindi thankfully. People like Prakash Jha have damaged Bihar a lot by selling only hindi to Bihar and not caring for his own mother tongues like Bhojpuri and Maithili. There is nothing called “Regional” Language. Its the language in which your and my self respect and lost identities resides. A tamilian will never call, tamil, his regional language. 

Along with movies in regional language, do you plan to make a Bollywood movie? If yes, please share something about the upcoming movies.

Nitin Neera Chandra: I am making world movies, you guys need to move beyond “Bollywood” and stop using this word to start-with at least . My films are seen in 15 countries. I will make hindi film someday, though thats not my priority. Dont get stuck with Bollywood, as I see most of the people of Bihar are stuck with Hindi films and thats why their own cinema has went to the dogs. Thankfully Bangalis, malyalais, marathis, punjabis and almost every other language culture don’t try to draw their respect from Bollywood like we do in UP and Bihar.

After the massive success of your last chhath song video Pahile Pahil, tell us something about your upcoming bhojpuri video “aapna chautha class ka drawing book”

Nitin Neera Chandra: Oh, thanks for asking this. Apna chauthaa class ke drawing book is a light pop music, sort of poetry in bhojpuri. Its about a 12 year old girl who recalls her class 4 drawing book in which she had drawn her days of villages. The song is her journey into the nostalgia after she lost her drawing book while migrating from village to the town. Another very important thing is that, this video is supposedly first stop motion lip sync video of India. I still have to find out something on internet and thats why I am claiming this. It should release within 2 weeks now.

What is your take on untapped talent in Bihar? How do you think it can emerge out ?

Nitin Neera Chandra: I have been tapping Bihari talent in Bihar and outside since 2008. Again the problem is the talent which I find in Bihar is mostly stuck with Hindi. Fortunately people in Bihar can not speak the correct hindi and now they have been calling it “Bihari Hindi”. “Bihari Hindi” is like calling a straight road beside a stinking sewer as Marine Drive. There is nothing called Bihari Hindi or Bengali Hindi. But yes the theatre in Patna is quiet vibrant and have been able to find many great actors from various theatre groups.

The regional cinema (bhojpuri movies in particular) have ruined the image of our state lately. Who do you think is at fault here and what do you think should be done to rectify this, so as to revive the lost glory of Bihari cinema and Bihar as a state.

Nitin Neera Chandra: In my answer no. 6 I mentioned about a random interview on Youtube and there are several such instances. Because we Biharis are known for selling what is sold, we are job seekers service class and not entrepreneurs by large. Now show me any website or news papers in Bihar, english hindi which has even started thinking about “what” is to be done in this context. People and Media, two things bring change, from Tahrir Square to Tianmenn to Jantar Mantar to Hadtaali Chowk. But people in Media need to know the right thing and need to have the right thinking. The society which has happily accepted unconsciously the fake fact that ”Hindi is our National Language” can never see the dusk of their collective self respect. They will remain in the dark as they are currently We have heard, young people hiding their “Bihari” identity across the country and even abroad among India community. Why ? Because there is nothing which gives them pride and Cinema is one of the major major factor behind society’s collective cultural consciousness. The girl interviewing the Bihari actress has no idea about Bihar’s first national Award winning film. She and such media persons damage the prospects for young minds who will keep looking at Mumbai and “Bollywood” on map. You are not asking the right questions. What are the right questions ? 

1. Tell us about Mithila Makhaan.

2. How do you feel being the main lead of Bihar’s first National Award winning film in 70 years ? 

3. Why did you choose to be part of a Maithili Film ? 3. How do you think we can improve on our own Cinema ? 

4. Why do you think National Award is important for Cinema ? 

5. Tell us something about your character in the Mithila Makhaan.

These are the right question which readers will read and there will be resurrection of sense of pride and aspiration for their state in the right direction. This hindi – english fixation need to be kept inside and Biharis need to work for their own language. Look around, all the developed states have developed literature and cinema. Hindi is and was never your language and its cinema is and was never your cinema. Love this fact, hate this fact or ignore it, but if you are ignoring your own languages, then do at your own peril. Open 100 Mc Donalds, KFCs, Dominoes, Malls, Multiplexes, Jimmy Choo bag shops and wear Dior perfume and put MAC makeup on your face, the identity of Bihar and Biharis will only get a facelift, but what is needed, is a day, when your litti chokhaa is sold in Kapil’s Eleven, Pind Balluchi, when Radio Mirchi will play good songs from bhojpuri and Maithili, when there will be newspapers and magazines in languages of Bihar, when Notre Dame Academy, Mount Carmel, St Michaels, DAV, Delhi Public School etc will teach languages of Bihar to its people. If you think its impossible, then take in writing from me, that Bihar will never see development,  and lastly when a random 20 year old girl studying in Magadh Mahila or Patna Women’s college will happily say that I love Patna and would want to live all my life here, that is the day you can think that Patna and Bihar have started developing.

What would be your message to the youth from state who want to follow the line of film-making ?

Nitin Neera Chandra: You want to be a film maker, first be yourself. Know yourself. Know your language its literature. Know the journey, pain, trust of your people in past and present. You have to be a person who can cry when you see a poignant site and laugh with a small poor kid in remotest village. You have to know your society’s socio political culture economic condition in and out. Camera is just a tool. The maker is the soul. Invoke the soul. Be a true Bihari first who is not stuck with hindi and english, but who is stuck with taking Bhojpuri to Grammys and Oscars.


Here is the first look of his upcoming short Film The Suspect!

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