Disco Dancing in Russia

A recent film festival evokes memories of a long intercontinental love affair

01 May 2012
Stills from the movie Enmesh, the story of a Russian boy who is an ardent fan of Indian movies.
Stills from the movie Enmesh, the story of a Russian boy who is an ardent fan of Indian movies.

THE LIGHTS IN THE HALL GROW DIM. Russian flute music replaces the murmurs of the audience and on the screen a truck wobbles up a dirt path. The sky is clear blue; the truck’s wheels spin clouds of dust. In the back are containers of milk and egg trays, and on one side sits a pair of rusty tin cans that look like over-sized carrom discs. The truck comes to a halt and the driver unloads the two cans. From afar, an old man, trailed by village kids, comes to take the delivery.

The cans, it turns out, contain reels of films, and it’s only when the same old man is seen posting a notice outside the local cinema that we find out just which one: the 1982 Mithun Chakraborty-starrer Disco Dancer. “Movie from India!” a villager announces to the kids who have gathered round. “Ticket will cost two eggs... Lots of dancing and fighting in the film!” He kicks and punches the air.

The audience in Delhi’s Russian Centre for Science and Culture was laughing with delight as they watched Russia’s entry to the BRICS Youth Short Films Festival, a first-of-its-kind initiative held in March that formed the cultural leg to the fourth annual BRICS summit. The story of a boy named Ilnur who is an ardent fan of Indian movies, the film Enmesh depicts the extent to the Soviet love for Bollywood in a small village. It is a love held, too, by 24-year-old Ainur Askarov, the film’s director.

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    Sonal Aggarwal recently completed a master’s in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, UK. Her work is forthcoming on www.newwriting.net.

    Keywords: film India Disco Dancer Russian Centre for Science and Culture BRICS Youth Short Film Festival BRICS Ainur Askarov Enmesh Soviet culture