In Leave Disco Dancer Alone, Sudha Rajagopalan explores the consumption of Indian popular cinema in post-Stalinist Soviet society. In doing so, she highlights the enthusiastic response Indian popular films and their stars received from the Soviet audience.
She also looks at the discursive and institutional context in which this consumption occurred from the mid-fifties till the end of the Soviet era in 1991.The death of Stalin in 1953 was followed by the introduction of important changes in government policy in the Soviet Union, including a relative liberalisation of leisure and culture which revealed the state’s resurgent interest in addressing popular tastes.
The renewed import and screening of foreign entertainment films in the Soviet Union was one of the most visible outcomes of this change.Drawing on oral history methodology and archival research in Russia, the author analyses the ways in which Soviet movie-goers, policy makers, critics and sociologists responded to, interpreted and debated Indian cinema in the Soviet Union between 1954 and the end of the eighties.
Complemented by contemporary press and archival photos which capture the rapturous reception given to actors like Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and Mithun Chakraborty as well as Soviet film posters announcing films like Awara, Betaab and Chandni, this engaging book, which is also the first monograph on Indian cinema abroad among non-diasporic audiences, is a must-read not only for students and scholars of film history and cultural studies, but every such lay reader who has grown up on a regular diet of popular Indian cinema.
Sudha Rajagopalan is an independent scholar and writer, currently based in the Netherlands.