Since the 1960s, the Indo-Russian relationship has charted a trajectory of trust, military cooperation, economic partnerships and a common interest in technology. In the year that celebrates the 70th anniversary of its diplomatic ties, it’s pertinent to acknowledge yet another powerful micro medium, which is cinema.
A good example of which is the Russian Film Days in India festivals that is keeping the dialogue alive and thriving.
This is a good platform to get a glimpse of Russian cinema in its variety.
“You have blockbusters, historical dramas and everyday comedy,” says Maria Lemesheva, the producer of the festival, and the adviser of the Filmmakers Union of the Russian Federation. She shares the example of Anna Karenina, a film based on the novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. Beautiful costumes, a classic story, love and tragedy, passion and war, all come intertwined in this film.
Life goes On, directed by Karen Oganesyan, is a modern day comedy about a meeting of classmates 15 years after graduation. “Who has become what, what have they achieved, who has remained the same, and who has changed—has all been depicted thoroughly,” she says.
The blockbuster, Attraction, is a story about the fall of an alien spaceship into one of Moscow’s districts. “The appearance of aliens reveals the insoluble contradictions within our society, which no one noticed at the usual time,” she says.
The opening ceremony of the film festival will see a theatrical performance dedicated to Raj Kapoor and the film My name is Joker. Raj Kapoor is a legendary actor not only for India, but also for Russia. Generations of people grew up on his films, according to Lemesheva.
This year celebrates the 45th anniversary of the release of the film. “Through this wonderful story we are reminded of the close cinematographic ties that we had in the past. We pass the baton to modern filmmakers now,” she says.
This year, the event is being taken to Mumbai and Goa. Since Mumbai is the capital of Bollywood, the move is a smart one. Lemesheva hopes that the filmmakers in Mumbai have been watching Russia’s contemporary cinema, as it will be easier for them to undertake decisions about distribution of the Russian films in India or about participating in co-products. In Panjim the film festival is participating in IFFI-48, another film festival. Five films from Russian Film Days in India is be screened.
She hopes to bring Russian films to Chennai, Hyderabad, Gujarat and other centres of cinematography. “We are looking for Indian partners who can help organise large-scale project,” she says, adding, “This year we are working with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Directorate of Film Festivals, NFDC, and others, hoping that our cooperation will help expand the geography of screenings,” she says, wanting cinema to become a locomotive for friendship.
November 10-12, at DT Cinema, Saket. Details on the festival’s Facebook page.