The Elephant, The Bear and The Bollywood


These  were  the  1950s  and  1960s  when  the  Indian  intellectual circles  were  heavily  inspired  by  Soviet  Socialism  and  this  influence was spread  through  its  literature  and  cinema. Despite taking  a  neutral  stand  in  the  post  war  world ,  India  was   an   admirer  of  Soviet  culture. Hindi  films  played  a  central  role  in  cementing  cultural  diplomacy  between  the  two  countries. Hollywood films  were  either  dubbed  or  subtitled  for  the  Soviet  audiences.  Indian   films  were  also   encouraged  because  they  were  seen  as  a  protection  for  the Russian  film  market  against  Hollywood  films.

Dharti  ke  Lal  (written  and  directed  by  K .A Abbas)  documented  the  famine  of  1943  and  criticised  the  British  policies  for denying  the  initial  requests  for  providing  more stocks  of  food.

dharti ke lal

In  the  1950s  Raj  Kapoor  was  regarded  as  one  of  the  most  romantic  actors  in  the  Soviet  union. His  film  Awara  dubbed  in  Russian  and  released  as  Brodiaga (Vagabond)  became  hugely  popular . Eight  hundred  prints  of  Awara  were  released  in  all  the  languages  of  the  15  Soviet  Republics. Raj  Kapoor  with  a goofy  smile and  trousers  that  did  not  go  past  the  ankles  was  a  symbol  of  optimism  in  the  USSR.

Awara hoon

The story of Sita and Gita  (released  in  the  year  1972)   left  the  entire  Soviet Union  in  tears. 55.2 million People saw it. The film was so popular that a pair of Siamese twins born in Kyrgyzstan was given the name of Site and Gait.

seeta geeta

The last decade of the 20th century saw political and economic realignments in India and the USSR. The mighty Soviet  Union  had  collapsed and  the economic  reforms  of  1991  opened  the  gates  of  western  influences  on  Indian  Cinema while  Russia  also  started  embracing  the  west, amidst  all  this  what  remained  was  the  nostalgia  of  the  years  gone  by.

About The Author

titiksha jain

Titiksha Jain (MA English, PU Campus)

She’s pursuing M.A. in English and Cultural studies from Panjab University, Chandigarh. Her other interests are travelling, writing, cooking and animals


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