Manoj Tiwari is a leading figure of the Bhojpuri film industry and Indian entertainment in general. Born on 1 February, 1971, in the small village of Atarwalia near Mohania, Kaimur district, Bihar, he has been credited with reviving the Bhojpuri film industry.
He is not only an actor but also a singer, music director and popular television presenter. As a singer, his latest hit song is “Jiyo Re Bihar Ke Lala Jiyo Tu Haazar Sala” from Anurag Kashyap’s film Gangs of Wasseypur.
As he started his career, he became famous as a playback singer. This gained him widespread attention among cinema goers. He gained countrywide popularity as an actor through Bhojpuri cinema, mainly aimed at the family audience.
Manoj Tiwari worked 10 years as a singer before he started his career as an actor in Bhojpuri movies.
His first film Sasura Bada Paise Wala was released in 2003 which went on to become a milestone and top grosser in the history of Bhojpuri movies. The BBC reported that the film was produced at a budget of US$ 65,000 but it churned out a profit of US$ 3 million. The Hindu reported a 35,000–40,000 lakh cost resulting in takings of 4.5 crore (US$0.85 million). Indian Express reported a figure of 6.5 crore (US$1.23 million) as the takings.
This film was noted as the turning point by the Bihar Jharkhand Motion Picture Association in the history of Bhojpuri cinema. This hit movie was by Manoj Tiwari was followed by his other hits like, Daroga Babu I Love You and Bandhan Toote Na.
In 2005, Tiwari was reported to have quoted, “Gone are the double intenders, thin story lines and poor technical quality. Films have been slick and producers are willing to put in close to Rs 80 lakh in a film because the returns are not bad.”
BBC reported in 2005, that Manoj Tiwari and Ravi Kishan were the leading male stars of the flourishing Bhojpuri film industry. It also said that Tiwari was able to charge up to US$ 90, 000 per film.
In 2010, Tiwari contested in the popular reality show, Big Boss and went on to stir some controversy about the shows format on his exit. He also was struggling to save his marriage during this period and was reported to have said during the show that his wife, Rani, “is angry with me” as she suspected him of having an affair with his fellow contestant, Shweta Tiwari.
In mid-2011, Tiwari and his wife were involved in divorce proceedings.
Manoj Tiwari continues to direct music and has released many new albums. In 2009, he released an album, Hey Mahadev, which fused contemporary genres with traditional music. He performs all around the world and has given music for numerous releases.
Riding on his popularity, Tiwari also tried his hand in politics. In 2009, he contested elections for the 15th Lok Sabha from the Gorakhpur constituency for Samajwadi Party. He was reported to have quoted that he was not “a political person but was concerned for the development of Poorvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh.” He lost the election to Adityanath Yogi.
In November 2009, his house in Mumbai was attacked by Shiv Sena activists who claimed that he had made some remark about the Shiv Sena leader.
Tiwari was among the first celebrities who appeared in support of Ramdev’s hunger strike in the Ramlila ground in 2011. He also made his appearance in support of the protests surrounding the arrest of Anna Hazare.
Manoj Tiwari has also been an avid supporter of cricket having played the game in Banaras Hindu University. He is also actively involved with Kirti Azad’s Association of Bihar Cricket, which is campaigning to be recognised by the BCCI as the official organization for cricket in Bihar.