The Folklorization of Bihar

Culture and Media

There is a new dating website out of Bombay, named after the erstwhile Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi.

We were inspired by Laloo Prasad and the marital bonding he shares with his wife,” said Bullet Mehta of Wiantech, the Mumbai-based software company promoting the website’.

I have often wondered about the peculiar inspiration” Lalu and Bihar in particular excite in the national Indian imagination. Most people are apt to roll their eyes in despair at the mention of Bihar, followed by a sigh of relief that they don’t actually live there. On the other hand there is a constant invocation of Bihari-ness that seems very important to national life. To take a ubiquitous example, Hindi movies that need a rustic character would be bereft without a Bihari. Indian village life is always somewhere in Dehat,’ a sort of netherworld in the Eastern UP/Bihar region, and as such a fixture in our national cinema. I had blogged earlier about a film called Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav, and the general impression that most people think of Bihar as a joke, and if it doesn’t irritate them, it amuses them.

I wonder what role this folklorization (I use this term loosely and not entirely accurately, but you know what I mean. I hope) has to play in making sure Bihar never develops, and never stops being the provider of much of India’s raw materials and cheap labor.

Also look at Amitava Kumar’s rant about a newspaper ad in Bombay.