Raj Thackeray's tirade against north Indians could end up hurting Maharashtrians working in the over Rs 200-crore Bhojpuri film industry as it considers moving out of Mumbai owing to increasing insecurity.
With an average output of 75 movies per annum and an over 250 million target audience, the Bhojpuri film industry employs hundreds of unskilled and semi-skilled people from the state in various stage of production and distribution.
The industry, which has around 50 registered production houses in Mumbai, has initiated talks with some state governments like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for its set up.
"We have given a proposal to the Uttar Pradesh government through its Culture Minister Subhash Pandey for setting up the industry in Lucknow. Besides, we are also counting on some other options like Delhi, Noida and Patna," Bhojpuri superstar and producer Manoj Tiwari told PTI.
The actor was of the opinion that shifting the industry to Uttar Pradesh or Bihar would also lead to employment for speakers of the language.
Tiwari said that despite employing a large number of Maharashtrians, the Bhojpuri film industry was still being targeted for "our connection with north India, even though Bhojpuri films have their audiences across the country."
"We are living under the shadow of fear in Mumbai. MNS goons even target us during outdoor shootings. We are not secure here," he said.
The actor said he had to stop shooting for one of his movies featuring Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff at Satara when some suspected MNS activists attacked the unit. The shooting was later completed in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
Tiwari's office in suburban Versova was also ransacked allegedly by some MNS activists in February this year.
Confirming the plans of shifting, another Bhojpuri star Ravikishan said, "No industry can work in an atmosphere of fear and disturbance for a long time. And if the adverse situation in Maharashtra continues then it will make sense to move to another place."
In July also, suspected MNS activists attacked a cinema in Lower Parel where a Bhojpuri film was being screened.
The industry came into the limelight after Tiwari and Ravikishan's 'Sasura Bada Paise Wala' became a mega hit in 2003.
Since then the Bhojpuri cinema has never looked back as Bollywood stalwarts like Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Shatrughan Sinha and Subhash Ghai have also tried their hands at it.
The films even have a vast overseas market as the Bhojpuri diaspora is spread over countries like Mauritius, Nepal, Dubai, Ghana, West Indies, Fiji, Indonesia, Surinam and the Netherlands.
Industry insiders said nearly 70 per cent of the total production cost of a Bhojpuri film -- budgets of which range from Rs 80 lakh to Rs 1.25 crore -- is usually spent in Maharashtra, providing direct employment to junior artists, make-up men, spot boys and local studios among others.
The Bhojpuri film fraternity has expressed deep anguish over the increasing violence against north Indians in Mumbai and held the Maharashtra government responsible for not checking such incidents.
"Maharashtra government and Raj Thackeray are equally responsible for this social divide and violence. The police administration is not working seriously to stop violence," Tiwari added.