The literal meaning of bidesiya is `of the foreign`. This is the folk form in Bhojpuri, i.e. the language of western Bihar. Probably started by a certain Guddarrai, it acquired widespread popularity and recognition owing to the talent and charisma of the legendary writer-actor Bhikhari Thakur. He was born in 1887 in Qutubpur, Saran district. He had originally performed a play in 1917 about the pain, suffering, and endless wait of a newly-wed village bride, whose husband goes off to another land to earn money, leaving her behind yearning for him. It took audiences through the journey of passing time with the moods of the lonely wife in response to the various seasons. The theme found such an immediate echo in social reality that, coupled with Bhikhari Thakur`s histrionic and musical art, the play became a huge success. The success was so much so that it acquired the status of an independent form. Several works around the same story, with minor variations, reached spectators as Bidesiya. This is primarily musical theatre, with most of the exchanges taking place through music based on existing Bhojpuri folk songs and tunes.
Bidesiya stands out for the evocativeness, humour, and wit of its regional dialect. Performed very simply with everyday costumes in any available space, it requires no more than three or four actors, who double up for several roles. Dance steps are introduced for variety and fun to go along with the songs. Bidesiya continues to be popular in Bihari villages, as its theme remains relevant, reflecting a reality of rural life where men have to migrate to the cities to earn their livelihood, leaving their families behind.