The Soviet Union and Indian cinema


“Many younger viewers found the physical types foregrounded in Indian films worthy models of emulation, whether it was trying to style their hair or dress in a fashion similar to their screen idol. Young Katia Marginovskaia considered film star Rekha to be the single most important recollection she had of an eighties film. ‘I remember vividly the colour of Rekha’s sari … apple green. In our grey lives, we literally happened into a fantasy world…. I had never seen anything like this.’”

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11 Responses to “The Soviet Union and Indian cinema”

  1. I think now Russia is not as grey as it was. It changed a lot under Putin.


  2. Russians have loved and enjoyed the movies of Raj Kapoor in the former Soviet Union. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the discontinuance of the centralized purchasing system, Bollywood films disappeared from Russia’s movie theatres. Unable to compete with the Hollywood and no longer interested in making their films cheaply available to Russian distributors, Indian producers turned away from Russia in favour of the Indian-diaspora markets, particularly in the US, Britain, Australia and the Middle East.


  3. Indian cinema used to be loved in Russia/former USSR!
    I remember, I liked it a lot as a child. Then lots of poor quality action films and endless disco and clichéd romantic plots from India started pouring in the theatres and on TV. So I and most of people from former USSR grew up with a thought Indian films were horrible and had to be avoided. Only several years ago I “accidentally” watched TZP (I’d probably skip it if I knew it was made in India before I stared watching because of strong prejudice) and when it ended I felt like I watched the best film in the world. Then 3 idiots happened and I felt impressed even more, so that was my turning point in discovering wonderful Indian cinema, thanks to Aamir Khan. Since then I’ve watched so many great Indian films and like a lot of Bollywood and regional actors. That’s how I totally changed my opinion about modern Indian cinema.

    Edited because of typos.


  4. @”That’s how I totally changed my opinion about modern Indian cinema”

    Feride1, I am guessing even Salman has good standing in Russia and in general very popular with the Eastern European belt. Same with Mithun too and to an extent SRK if you include the Turks in that region. I agree last few years Indian cinema has gathered momentum in that part of the world. Salman has been instrumental for some of that reach after he shot ‘Lucky no time for Love’ depicting the story of two lovers in war-torn Russia. Also St Petersburg had few iconic moment in Veer and the the song Surili Ankhiyon is picturised there. The foreign locales of Kick too were shot in eastern european cities when he couldn’t get permit to shoot in London.It is due to his building popularity a Romanian model Lulia Vantur introduced him to Russian version of the song Teri Meri in Bodyguard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Man, you need help! the whole article is about something else, Feride1 is talking about coming back because of two Aamir films and you’ve constructed this whole fantasy about Salman kickstarting (no pun intended) things in that part of the world. I honestly don’t mean this as a putdown but you need help..

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are unintentionally funny, I’m sure if tasked with proving Salman invented the atom, the aeroplane, Pythagoras thereom you’d prove it. But gently ignore how his woman beating, drunken tweets, killings are fine and he’s innocent, everyone else is wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t say so…
      Of course, there fan groups of many popular Indian actors in former USSR too. But I speak about non-hindi, non-Bollywood/Tollywood/etc. auditory only. Cinema goers in general. Like I myself used to be. This is how I usually pick up films to watch – these are either suggestions from people I know or those in my social media circles, or popular bloggers or reviews from Russian-language film sites/must-watch lists similar to IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, etc. For example, one of my friends finds Indian films utterly silly, but it was her who suggested me Lagaan and The Rising (Mangal Pandey) as great examples of really good cinema (and I have to say, I simply ignored those suggestions back then, but again it was before TZP and 3I happened). Ironically, this is what I experience now! Every time I suggest someone to watch a hindi film, no-one takes it seriously at first. However, if I manage to persuade (I always introduce Indian cinema to others with an AK film, be it 3I, PK or any other), it never fails.


  5. Where I am talking about kick starting and introducing? I just talked about a certain revival by the top star and that too due to association with Lulia Vantur who has her own following in that part of the world and tabloids carry these sorts of reports.

    And on Feride1 coming back due to two Aamir films is his/her personal taste and not the barometer / yardstick for Indian cinema there. In fact Aamir is a non entity there if you ask me personally because I don’t see the Russians/eastern Europeans getting crazy like say for aRaj kapoor and Mithun…

    On the rest on needing help the best way to avoid becoming a scapegoat is to find one.I am sorry Abhi let you down so badly for all the thesis and compositions you prepared… they one who cannot dance must not blame the song.

    Btw I am sorry no such link for Bachchan & its Mithun who gets them

    “….The enduring popularity of the song Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja in Russia is proof that Mithun Chakraborty’s fan base in the former Soviet republic hasn’t eroded. Exhibit A: this video from a dance talent show on Russian television from some months ago.”


  6. ….and my first line begins – ” Feride1, I am guessing

    so kindly excuse us our one on one conversation as I was eager to learn more since he/she is well versed with that part of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome to ask questions, livewire.
      You’re right, there is no craze for Indian actors here.
      It used to be in Raj Kapoor times and even later, since foreign films were shown there rarely. Indian films were allowed there due to political connections and friendly attitude between two countries. Moreover, hindi films were so different from USSR ones, often so bright and colourful and therefore so popular among the audience. That’s why the actors were very popular too. It is different now, and Indian films are generally treated with a lot of prejudice (I explained why so in my first comment).


  7. Russians are not as friendly as it is made out to be. And just because PK made good business in China does not mean Chinese will stop their demands over Arunachal Pradesh or Dalai Lama. In this case, it is not different from Pakistan. Bollywood is only cheap entertainment and we should not build castles in the air that bollywood success will be replicated politically. Their first preference is hollywood and hollywood stars. Culturally we are apart(with reference to chinese or russians) while Pakistan has its roots in India and so they still feel connected to us. If our films and stars do well, it is good and we should be satisfied. And are we reciprocating in any way? How many Chinese, Russian or Pakistani films run in our country and make profits? It is all hollywood for us after our own films.


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