Indian Films in Soviet Cinemas
The Culture of Movie-going after Stalin
Indian films and film stars were immensely popular with Soviet audiences from the mid-1950s through the end of the Soviet period. In this fascinating glimpse inside Cold War-era popular culture, Sudha Rajagopalan explores the consumption of Indian cinema in the USSR as a zone of negotiation and interaction between institutional actors, cultural mediators and movie audiences. The post-Stalinist era saw the liberalization of leisure and culture, resulting in increased importation and screening of foreign entertainment films. Drawing on oral history and archival research in Russia, Rajagopalan analyzes how oviet movie-goers, policy makers, critics, and sociologists responded to, interpreted, and debated Indian cinema. The first social and cultural history of this phenomenon, this engaging work is a must-read for students and scholars of Russian/Soviet history, film history and cultural studies, and for all Indian film fans interested in the cinema’s influence abroad. Includes archival photos that capture the rapturous reception given to actors such as Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty, along with Soviet film posters announcing well-known Indian films.
Filled with excerpts from lively audience letters (archived and published) and rich and revealing interviews, this book is the first work in Soviet cinema history that looks at how audiences read and interpreted films. Moreover, it examines the institutional and discursive context within which that reception occurred and shows how official policy in Soviet society remained receptive (even if controversially so) to its consuming public.
This book is a significant departure from Anglo-Saxon historiography of Soviet popular culture that has exclusively considered western media influences in the Soviet Union, and is also the first monograph on Indian cinema’s reception among foreign, non-diasporic audiences. It can be ordered here.