India and Russia always had a special relationship that's why during Soviet Union regime, the most popular movies in Russia were from Bollywood.  Well, Russians also loved French and Italian cinema, but Bollywood had a special place in our hearts.  Colourful exotic locales, beautifully adorned dresses; dramatic - over expressive, over the top - emotions and passions - and music! Songs and dancing - everything was so different, unlike the grey, slow, and dull movies of the Soviet era.

My aunt, who worked in a dance studio, was particularly fond of Indian music and dance.  She introduced my sister and me to the magic of the Indian movies.  Some of my favourite movie stars were from India.  I knew their names but I knew nothing else of their private lives.  Most of the movies we got to watch were from 1970s and 80s, and these actors and actresses were at the height of their power.  One day I thought back about those movies and the actors who starred in them, and I wanted to find out more.  

Amitabh Bachchan

He is the most well-known actor in the West today due to his first film in Hollywood.  He was seen in the recent filming of "The Great Gatsby" playing dapper Meyer Wolfsheim alongside Leo Di Caprio and Tobey Maguire .  He is Bollywood's royalty, its one of the most respected veterans whose career spans four decades.  He is also a father-in-law to a beautiful Aishwarya Rai. 

I must say that he is one of the most handsome 70 year old men I've seen. Look at him, how sexy he is!  Reading imdb, I found out that he was a son of a famous poet, and got his first big break in the movie industry only after a personal recommendation of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  Having ruled over the industry in the 1970s and 80s, he had a number of set backs in the 1990s with his movies flopping one after another, and a series of scandals with politics.  He was also rumoured to have had an affair with a famous Bollywood actress Rekha.  However, he came back with the vengeance in the 21st century, making a successful come-back and also hosting a Hindi version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?".  

The movies I've seen with Bachchan from the 1970s, where he played an intense, brooding and constantly angry man did not endeer me to him but I am willing to review my childhood opinions! 


dashing mr.bachan
The Great Gatsby


Rekha started acting from the very early age, and she had difficulty, like Bachchan, breaking into the Hindi Bollywood that discriminates against darker complexions, although she came from a Tamil acting family, her rise to fame wasn't an easy one. 

The first Indian movie I've seen and remember to this day is "Khoon Bhari Maang" (1988) (Natural Murder) where she plays a plain looking, widowed daughter of a rich estate owner.  She is filthy rich and has two kids, and it's not ok by some.  A sinister greedy boyfriend of her best friend supermodel decides to marry her and kill her for the money.  The movie is loosely based on Australian movie "Return to Eden", and the revenge she undertakes coupled with an amazing personal transformation to get back what's rightfully hers is the main plot.  The movie is all about growing balls and standing up to the injustice and unkindness.  It also has some very amazing songs and performances.  

Rekha was rumoured to have an affair with Amitabh Bachchanin the 1970s since they starred in nine movies together, and all those movies were big hits!  




Rekha in Sheshnaag

Mithun Chakraborty

Regarded as most influential actor in the Indian cinema, Mithun Chakraborty broke into the movies in 1976 and immediately got a National Film Award for the Best Actor (it's like The Oscars in India). His role as a streetdancer Jimmy in the 1982 movie Disco Dancer brought him acclaim and recognition in the Soviet Union.  

He had a degree in chemistry, black belt in Martial Arts and also belong to the political group of Naxalites who were a fairly militant Communist group, but after a freak accident when his only brother was killed, he left the group forever.  

Despite a successful debut and an award, it took a few years of hard work to rise to stardom.  From then on, he starred in many movies, releasing about a hundred of movies per decade. He became highest paid actor in Bollywood after Amitabh Bachchan.   He started his own production company which produces many movies every year.  

His personal life was quite stormy since he was such a hit with the ladies.  After briefling marrying an American supermodel in the 1970s, he married a fellow actress with whom he has four kids.  In the 1980s, he had an affair with another famous superstar Sridevi.  It is rumored that they had a secret marriage ceremony (which sounds improbably since he was already married to Yogeeta), and his wife took a dose of sedatives when she found out about it.  Mithun went back to his wife, and Sridevi married another guy.  

Mithun Chakraborty in Dance, Dance