A crucial cultural connect between India and Russia is through movies and books. A festival will only strengthen the ties.
The fan following of veteran legends like Raj Kapoor, Nargis Hema Malini and Mithun among the Russian public was as massive as India, if not more. On the other hand, through books and Russian classical films, there’s a lot that even India has learnt and admired about the Russian film industry. The ties between the then USSR and India have been linked closely to the cultural exchange between the two nations for years.
Exchanges like these continue to merge various cultural habits of both the countries even today. Initiatives like Russian Film Days, by the Russian Federation bring a range of Russian classics and contemporary films to revitalise the relations and strengthen linkages between the two nations.
As the fourth edition of the film festival begin in three major cities — Delhi, Mumbai and Pune — Russian actresses and Russian Ambassador to India inaugurated the three-day festival on Friday at the Russian Federation Centre. He said, “Generations of Russians have experienced emotions through Raj Kapoor’s films.” The first day saw the world premiere of the Russian film The Last Trial, starring Anna Churina, Alisa Grebenshchikova, among others, who were also present at the inauguration. Among the others at the event were Galina Lemesheva, general producer of Russian Film Days in India, TV presenter, editor-in-chief of The Hollywood Reporter, Russian edition, actress Valentina Mazunina, Artem Tkachenko, and Vladimir Poluektov, press secretary.
Lemesheva highlighted the importance of the festival, saying that it is important for a better understanding between two nations and their cultures. She said, “People’s knowledge of the Russian culture might only be based on books and old classical films. But what is currently happening in Russia can only be found in contemporary movies.”
As the festival showcases around seven Russian films, the question arises that on what criteria are these chosen? There are three broad ideas. “The film The Last Trial is one of the highest grosser at the box office and that’s why it was chosen. The second basis is new idea and experimental. Gogol, the film was originally shot as a serial but the producers decided to first make it as a film and and then bring it as a TV series. The third is the variation, where we want to bring a variety of movies and hence, we bring different genres like animation, comedy, war, blockbusters.” She said that they are trying to bring out the newest and the best movies, for example, the film The Last Warrior.
While the current Indian film industry has been high on realism and are more inclined towards sports films, or biopics these days, the Russian films veer towards patriotism. “For example, the film, Spaceworkers, shows one big country where two heroes work for the nation and a woman who saves all the hostages,” she said
She believed that the Russian film industry has evolved to a great extent over the years as compared. “After the fall of the Soviet Union, we have had a huge gap in the progress. In Russia, we mostly shot commercial movies which were not produced with very good quality, but now the landscape has changed. Now, for the past seven-10 years, we have been trying to screen our films at every place in the world because they are worth showing and are of good quality like the Russian classics. Now we are using our knowledge of the past to head towards a better future.
Russians have always admired Indian actors and Anna Churina told us that one of her favourites is actor Shah Rukh Khan.
Representing his film Gogol, which was much loved in Russia, Artem Tkachenko said that it was not his first visit to India and that he “loved coming here, its culture and wants to keep coming back to the country.”
Highlighting the significance of the film festival, he said that the festival enables them to come to India without having any political tensions where they do not have to answer any serious questions. Here “we just have to answer about the characters we play in our films and about how the character has evolved.”
Among the films that will be shown are among a wide range of genres — a sports drama, Ice, cosmic drama, Spacewalkers, cinema series, Gogol: The Beginning, comedy, Well, Hello There Oksana Sokolova, fairytale, The Last Warrior and animation series, Sheep and Wolves.
(The festival ends today.)
Writer: Chahak Mittal
Source: The Pioneer