Bhikari Thakur was an Indian playwright, lyricist, actor, folk dancer, folk singer and social activist in Bhojpuri language popularly known as the "Shakespeare of Bhojpuri”. Thakur was born in a barber-family on 18 December 1887 in a village named Kutubpur (Diyara), Saran District, Bihar, India. His father and mother were Dal Singar Thakur and Shivkali Devi respectively. He had a younger brother named Bahor Thakur.
He travelled to Kharagpur to earn a livelihood. Here he made money, but was unsatisfied with the job. A Ramlila aficionado, he then travelled to Jagannath Puri as he had heard that the pilgrimage city organises some of the bestRamlila plays.
He put together a play group at his native village and began to perform Ramlila, songs recitals and took an interest in social works. He started writing dramas, songs and novels etc. The language of the books was simple and attracted many. The books were published from Varanasi, Chhapra and Howrah.
His literary creations including dramas (Bidesiya, Beti-Bechawa, Bidhawa-Bilaap etc.) and songs continue to be appreciated and performed even today. He died at the age of 83 on 10 July 1971. A Hindi Film Chaarfutiya Chhokare directed by Manish Harishankar dedicates its one song 'Kaun Si Nagariya' to his work that is based on his one of the song of Beti-Bechawa. Bihar Kokila Sharda Sinha has sung the song
He has written as well as directed and performed ten major works; beginning with a non-serious vasant-bahar based on the dhobi-dhobin dance he saw somewhere. His major productions include: Bidesiya, Bhai-Birodh, Beti-Viyog or Beti Bechba (daughter-seller), Kalyuga Prema (Love in Kalyuga), Radheshyam Behar (based on krisna-radha love), Ganga-asnan (ceremonial bath in the Ganges), Bidhwa-vilap, Putrabadh (filicide), Gabar-Bichar (based on an illegitimate child), and Nanad Bhojai.
Thakur is considered to be the greatest flag bearer of Bhojpuri language and culture. Bhojpuri is widely spoken in major parts of Bihar including Jharkhand, some parts of eastern UP and Bengal
Though his plays revolved and evolved around villages and rural society, they still became very famous in the big cities like Kolkata, Patna, Benares and other small cities, where migrant labourers and poor workers went in search for their livelihood. Breaking all boundaries of nation he, along with his mandali, also visited Mauritius, Kenya, Singapore, Nepal,British Guyana, Suriname, Uganda, Myanmar, Madagascar, South Africa, Fiji, Trinidad and other places where bhojpuri culture is more or less flourishing.