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Once Upon a Time in Bihar (2015)

This story is based on real incidents, set in the year 2003 - 2004 in ravenous terrains of Buxar District of Bihar.


Nitin Chandra


Nitin Chandra


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Credited cast:
Kranti Prakash Jha Kranti Prakash Jha ... Rajiv Kumar
Pankaj Jha Pankaj Jha ... Bisnu
Ajay Kumar Ajay Kumar ... Jeans
Aarti Puri Aarti Puri ... Seema
Deepak Singh Deepak Singh ... Sankar Pandey
Ashish Vidyarthi ... Madan Sharma


This story is based on real incidents, set in the year 2003 - 2004 in ravenous terrains of Buxar District of Bihar.

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Release Date:

30 October 2015 (India) See more »


Box Office


INR16,000,000 (estimated)
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User Reviews

At times we need to strongly support such courageous attempts giving you the real picture of a state by purposefully ignoring any of its visible shortcomings.
2 August 2016 | by bobbysingSee all my reviews

Moving ahead of all those over dramatic and filmy takes on the issue by the renowned director Prakash Jha, here we have a much responsible film written and directed by Nitin Chandra that sincerely tries to reveal the actual state of Bihar, hinting towards the intended bias, humiliation and exploitation of its people both within and outside the state following a sick tradition.

To be honest, we are not talking about any classic here having its own avoidable shortcomings with many debutant artists in the team trying to perform to the best of their ability. But its actually the true to life execution and the purposeful vision of the film that forces you to consider it respectfully with many 'realistic dialogues' talking about the distressing life of even the highly educated youth in the 'much talked about' state.

Opening with the riots-sequence of Patna during March 2005, it goes into more than a year old flashback introducing three key characters set in Buxar district of Bihar. And then starts looking into their individual life-struggles faced within their home-state dealing with their own people in power quite shamelessly. With the first half stumbling in the beginning moving on a slow pace, it's the second half that makes a much better connect with the audience through all the thrilling moments related with the planned abduction gone wrong.

In other words, as soon as the script starts talking about the crime-angle introducing the character of Ashish Vidyarthi, it pulls you in and starts delivering as an engaging film in terms of entertainment. However, despite the two halves dealing with their distinctive plots, Nitin never loses the vision of enlightening the viewers about the conflicting situations faced by a Bihari youth finally choosing the path of crime unwillingly.

The typical regional language used in its key conversations (with some noticeable lines) is sure going to appeal the people of Bihar undoubtedly and it's the indicative insertion of many burning issues of the state that actually lifts up the film in totality. For instance the writing intentionally includes the reference of competition tuition classes business in Bihar, the bribe rate cards for government jobs, the gunda-raj of not paying for anything by the relatives of politicians, the fearless loots in front of spineless public in absence of effective Police-control, the known business of 'ransom-earning' chosen by the youth, the social problem of arranging big amounts for marriage by the girl's family, the under- employment of highly educated youth forced to do some labour jobs, Bhojpuri films and music being made and promoted so openly close to soft-porn poisoning the present generation and naxalite problem hurting the nation since long.

Musically OUATIB has a few well composed soulful tracks (played in the backdrop) working fine with its core subject and story progression, though the lyrics remain in the local lingo appealing to only selective audience (like "Chanarma Mein Daag Baa" & more). In the technical department the noteworthy art direction, background score and cinematography majorly help the film to make a decent impact shot at actual locations. Particularly the dark sequences executed well in the final hour of the film certainly need a special mention here giving the team of technicians their deserving due.

In the performances, both Kranti Prakash Jha and Deepak Singh underplay their given roles in a decent manner effortlessly along with Ajay Kumar playing the most nervous one of the trio quite well. Ashish Vidyarthi as usual impresses in the film's concluding moments but being the only female character in the entire narration, Arti Puri keeps trying her best to bring in the emotional factor as required.

Coming back to the downers, OUATIB does become preachy at times (especially in the beginning or towards the long climax) and with many other films already been there made around the same theme of 'ransom business in Bihar', it could have done much better if released along with the 'over-hyped' Prakash Jha films in the gone years. Besides a more clear and explanatory climax could have added a lot to the last-minute impact on the viewers as I strongly felt. Because in the end it still remains a film focusing on the problems alone without any possible solution to give as a visionary project.

Having said that, there is no denial to the fact that ONCE UPON A TIME IN BIHAR has been made with all positive vibes and intentions by its writer-director Nitin Chandrahoping for the much needed change coming soon in his home state. The film will no doubt appeal more to the residents of Bihar and the people migrating to the other states only due to its regional feel, but its time such problems are considered as 'national issues' by the central government too before its gets blown to much grave proportions reaching the other states.

The basic idea of the film is to enlighten the viewers about the present scenario with a highly authentic portrayal of its regional theme and that's exactly one of the most important motives of 'Cinema' along with providing the usual entertainment to its target audience. Hence at times, we as the viewers also need to strongly support such courageous attempts made giving us the real (scary) picture by purposefully ignoring any of its visible shortcomings.

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