“The Bidesia Project”

This is an initiative to preserve, archive and promote Bhojpuri folk music traditions. Our goal is ensure that this rich heritage is passed on to the next generation before it fades away from public memory.

The Bidesia Project is a not for profit initiative that works to conserve, archive and promote Bhojpuri folk music traditions. Our goal is to systematically document this intangible heritage and pass on for the next generations to come.


As a part of this initiative, we have produced an award winning feature-length documentary film
‘In Search of Bidesia’, set up a digital folk music archive and recorded over 30 artists and
200+ Bhojpuri folk songs so far. Our film has travelled to multiple film festivals in India and
across the world. The film won the Best Music Documentary Award at the Royal
Anthropological Institute Film Festival in the United Kingdom (UK), 2021.

We have received wide media coverage in India and outside from media outlets
that include Reuters, Al Jazeera, The Times of India, The Hindu, Scroll,
Outlook, FirstPost, HT Mint among others.

In Search of Bidesia


In Search of Bidesia is a musical documentary on Bhojpuri folk music that connects the history of indentured labour migration from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to the last living musicians in these states, who are now struggling to ensure these songs of love and longing do not slip into oblivion.

This film has emerged out of filmmaker Simit Bhagat’s personal solo bike journey across 1,200 kilometres through Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in 2017 to record these cultural expressions. Scripted on the go, the film explores how actual events in history and personal experiences find artistic expressions in various art forms including music and poetry.
Watch the full movie only on

अँखियाँ में नींद नैखे

मथवा पे बिंदिया नैखे

मोहे काल जैसे लागेला

कोठरियाँ में हो राम


These shadows creeping up on me
These shadows keep me sleepless
Don’t let me put on my bindi
Sleep and marriage both evade me

– An excerpt from a Bhojpuri folk song
about love and the pain of separation.

अँखियाँ में नींद नैखे

मथवा पे बिंदिया नैखे

मोहे काल जैसे लागेला

कोठरियाँ में हो राम


These shadows creeping up on me
These shadows keep me sleepless
Don’t let me put on my bindi
Sleep and marriage both evade me

– An excerpt from a Bhojpuri folk song
about love and the pain of separation.

Bidesia Music Archive


Bhojpuri songs are often associated with vulgarity and sleaziness. It is also the common theme of most new age Bhojpuri songs. But Bhojpuri folk music is rich in culture and has been orally passed on for generations now.

The folk music expressions from this region are based on Indian seasons and highlight the everyday life of people; their suffering and pain, festivals, customs and traditions. Some of the popular Bhojpuri folk music genres include Chaiti, Kajri, Birha, Barahmasa, Phagua, Jatsaar amongst others. Unfortunately, due to
cultural evolution, lack of written records and dearth of performers to continue this tradition,
Bhojpuri folk music is on a decline.

The Bidesia Music Archive is an effort to conserve this music, promote folk musicians
and also become a one-stop place for accessing Bhojpuri folk music traditions.

Check the Music Archive here

Play Video

Bidesia Migration Story


The abolition of slavery led to labour shortage in British colonies across the world. To address the issue, a system of indentured labour was instituted in 1834 by the British. People from the most marginalised sections of the society, mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, left the country to work on five-year contracts, in search of a better life.

Under the indentured system, over two million Indians (mostly from the Bhojpuri region) were taken to
British colonies across the world (such as Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Suriname, Caribbean islands
among many others.) to work as labour. When the indentured migrants left the ports in Kolkata
to various countries, they also took along their folk music, culture and their language – Bhojpuri
with them. While India’s formal history books largely forgot about this part of colonial history,
this trend was reflected through Bhojpuri folk songs. Thankfully, traces of which can still
be found today in India and many diaspora countries.

Through this musical archive, we aim to explore this rare musical connection that binds
India and diaspora countries together. Our vision is to create a repository and
a one-stop place for accessing Bhojpuri oral traditions.

Listen to the Bidesia Migration Story

Media Engagement


“Simit Bhagat’s In Search of Bidesia is a poignant narrative of longing, pain and separation”

– First Post

“Indian docu portraying songs of
separation at Dhaka fest”

– The Times of India

“Digital archive tunes into the
forgotten songs of Indian slaves”

– Reuters

“In these Bhojpuri folk songs, forgotten
tales of Indian indentured workers in
British colonies”

– Scroll

“Indian folk icon who also printed fake
notes to fight the British”

– Al Jazeera

“How Do I Walk All the Way?”

– Open the Magazine

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Swanand Deo

Web Development Specialist

Swanand Deo is a WordPress and Web Development Specialist working on various digital projects. With over a decade of experience in the design and development space, he has collaborated with over 50 national and international clients. He specialises in User Experience (UX) design, WordPress development, and creating engaging digital experiences. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Pune.

Mrinali Parmar

Associate (Partnerships)

Mrinali Parmar works on operations and building partnerships with social impact organisations. With five years of work experience, she has focused on education and promoting awareness of climate change and sustainability in her operations role. She holds a Master’s Degree in Commerce from the University of Mumbai and is passionate about linguistics, speaking six languages.

Swarnima Ranade

Voice Actress

Swarnima Ranade is a medical doctor turned voice actress who has done voice-over work for everything from commercials to documentaries to corporate narration to children’s books. She has worked with numerous noteworthy businesses in the past, such as Tata, Uber, Walmart, and YouTube Kids. She graduated from SVU in Gujarat with a degree in dental surgery.

Kumar Shradhesh Nayak


Kumar Shradhesh Nayak is a professional artist, illustrator, and graphic designer who studied at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Hyderabad. His experience includes stints at EkakiVedam and Design Avenue, both of which are prominent advertising firms. He enjoys trying out new approaches to illustration and creates artwork for a variety of projects.

Divya Shree

Content Producer cum Editor

Divya Shree is a media alumna from Symbiosis Institute in Pune who loves producing and editing non-fiction content. She has directed, shot, and edited videos for various productions. Her strengths are research, audience awareness, and the presentation of intricate topics with clarity and interest.

Manish Mandavkar

Motion Editor

Manish Mandavkar has studied animation at Arena Animation in Mumbai. He has previously worked on animated videos and motion graphics for brands, including Unilever and Zee Movies. An avid gamer, he is also passionate about sketching and photography. He holds a degree in Commerce from the University of Mumbai.

Joel Machado

Film Editor

Mumbai-based creative consultant and film editor Joel Machado has worked on documentaries as well as films in the mainstream Bollywood sector. He was also the Chief Assistant Director on the Jackie Shroff short, “The Playboy, Mr. Sawhney.” In addition to earning a B.Com from Mumbai University, he attended the city’s Digital Academy to hone his script writing skills.

Apoorva Kulkarni

Partnership Manager

Apoorva Kulkarni is the Partnerships Manager, and is responsible for developing strategic alliances and collaborative initiatives with other organisations in the social development ecosystem. For the past five years, she has been employed by major corporations, including Perthera (USA) and Genotypic Technology. She has written and published poetry, and she has been an integral part of The Bidesia Project. At Georgetown University in the United States, she earned a Master of Science in Bioinformatics.

Aliefya Vahanvaty

Sr. Creative Partner

Senior Creative Partner, Aliefya Vahanvaty has worked in a wide range of editorial roles over the course of her career, gaining experience as a correspondent, copy editor, writer, photographer, and assistant editor at publications like the Times of India, Forbes India, Open Magazine, Impact Magazine, and others. In addition to her MA in Sociology from Mumbai University, she also has an MA in Photojournalism from the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom.

Simit Bhagat


Founder, Simit Bhagat has worked in the fields of filmmaking, project management, and journalism for over 15 years. He has served in a variety of positions for organisations like the Times of India, the Maharashtra Forest Department, the Tata Trusts, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. From the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, he earned a Master of Arts in Science, Society, and Development.