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Bollywood set for date with Russian president

Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai 

If Raj Kapoor paid his tribute to Russia by referring to his ‘Russi’ hat in Awara, Bollywood’s GenX is not far behind. The film fraternity is set to doff its hat to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev when he comes calling to Mumbai on Wednesday.

Medvedev, who arrived in New Delhi tonight, will visit the plush Yash Raj film studio in Mumbai. He was originally scheduled to visit R K Studio in Chembur, but the plan had to be altered due to logistical reasons. Medvedev's scheduled visit to Yash Raj would be a tribute to Bollywood, which continues to inspire and entertain his countrymen. And, Raj Kapoor remains one of the biggest overseas names in Russia till date.

“It’s part of Russia’s people-to-people connect with India,” said an observer. That is perhaps why business will take a backseat for the visiting president, while he is in the country’s commercial capital, for just five hours. Also on the agenda, is a meeting with a group of Indian students where he is expected to tell them about Russia’s Skolkovo project.

This would be the first visit by any country head to a private studio. Earlier, the state-run Film City used to be the destination for visiting presidents, prime ministers and diplomats.

The Yash Raj studio, meanwhile, has already converted itself into a makeshift police camp with mock security drills going on round-the-clock. A senior studio official, confirming the Russian president’s visit, said he was still in the dark about the exact timing. Medvedev is expected to invite Indian filmmakers to Russia for shooting and opening of film institutes. This is because there are over 625 schools alone in St Petersburg, which teach Hindi.

Bollywood is still alive and kicking in millions of homes across the vast Eurasian giant due to round-the-clock Russian language paid channel ‘India TV’.

First Published: Tue, December 21 2010. 00:43 IST