Bollywood fills up Hollywood vacuum in sanctions-hit Russia | India News – Times of India

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KOLKATA: The word “boycott” may have lately bothered Bollywood more than the famed fickleness of the box office, but neither of these is a factor in Russia as Putin’s people sing, laugh and cry to the cadences of the good old Hindi trope amid a drought of Hollywood fare and international OTT action at home.
Prominent Moscow cinemas such as Cinema Park, Formula Kino, Premiere Hall, Kinomax and Karo made the switch to Bollywood back in March, anticipating high demand. Many of these places have since been regularly screening commercial Bollywood movies. Karo cinema chain president Olga Zinyakova told Russian media that cinema owners could keep the show going mainly because of the sustained demand for Bollywood fare.
TOI tried to contact Zinyakova, but she was unavailable for comment.
Karen Mirzoyan, director of Indian Film, a company in Moscow that partners with the Moscow International Film Festival to supply film content from India, said the Hollywood vacuum had been filled by the resurgent popularity of Indian films after a gap of over 20 years. “Interest in Indian movies was always there in Russia,” he said. “But from the Indian standploint, there was little interest in the Russian market as they focused more on the US and the UK, which have a bigger Indian diaspora.”
He explained that until the tide turned earlier this year, Russian theatres had been screening fewer and fewer Indian films since the early 2000s.
Apart from exclusively commercial blockbusters, several theatres are reviving the practice of re-running old Indian classics, betting big on the nostalgia factor. Debasmita Moulick, a journalist and translator based in Moscow, told TOI that a Satyajit Ray retrospective used to be shown annually in summer in well-known Moscow theatres in the 1990s, until about 2003.
This year, the Moscow International Film Festival — in early September — had screened Charulata at its inaugural session. “I really liked it,” said Anna Moreva, a university professor and journalist, after watching it for the first time.
The positive reception to Indian movies at the film festival has Russian cinema-goers hoping for more cooperation in film-making. “Although Indian movies are extremely popular in Russia, bilateral collaboration between Russia and India in films is largely untapped, and has immense potential. I hope for new opportunities in different aspects of film-making between the countries,” said Alexey Idamkin, consul-general, Russian Consulate, Kolkata.
The process of expanding Indian cinema in Russia is complicated, said Biman Bhattacharjee, founder of founder of cultural group Russian-Indian Cultural Exchange (RICE). “While all stakeholders envision rapid adoption of Bollywood and regional Indian films to Russia, the entire process — obtaining licences, creating subtitles, Russian voice-dubbing and distribution — can take over a year for each film,” he said. Mirzoyan said that the majority of Indian films were distributed with Russian subtitles, while a smaller number was dubbed.

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