“The Crew”, a dubbed version of the hit Russian film “Ekipazh”, will be the first film in that language to hit Indian screens. Promising a movie that will be a “big surprise”, the film’s co-producer Vadim Vereschagin says it is never “too easy” to pull the crowd to theatres.

The film, dubbed in English and brought to India by RG Studios, is slated to release on Friday. In a country where Bollywood clearly dominates, closely followed by Hollywood, would it be easy or difficult to pull Indian crowds into theatres to watch a Russian film’

“Obviously, it is never too easy to pull crowds into theatres. But the fact that this is the first Russian film to be released in India will definitely garner some interest. The promos have been very well-received; so we are positive,” Vereschagin, Senior Vice President, Theatrical, at Central Partnership, which has co-produced “The Crew”, told IANS in an email interview from Moscow.

“This is a movie which can be a big surprise. So keeping my fingers crossed. I hope it does well,” he added.

During film screenings in India, one can’t turn a blind eye to the anti-tobacco disclaimers, which was the reason why Oscar-winning American filmmaker Woody Allen cancelled the release of “Blue Jasmine” in India in 2013. Does he also think such disclaimers are distracting for the audience and should be done away with’

“It is a censor norm that we all have to abide by. Even in ‘The Crew’, we had to. I don’t think this distracts the audience so much. But, yes, if it can be done away with, it will be a welcome call,” said Vereschagin.

So, were any scenes chopped off or dialogues muted to suit the Indian audience’

“Yes, there was one scene each that was muted and chopped to suit the Indian audience. Thankfully, these were the scenes which were hardly contributing to the storyline,” he said.

The release of the film is the result of the Indo-Russian cultural pact that was sealed in October last year.

“The cultural pact has opened gates for both the countries to collaborate and make great movies by exchanging the extensive talent from Russia and India. It’s a great step towards enhancing our cultural ties,” Vereschagin said.

A lot of Indian films like “Lucky: No Time for Love”, “Agent Vinod” and “Mera Naam Joker” have been shot in Russia. But why aren’t Russian filmmakers exploring India as a shooting location’

“It’s the storyline that takes you to a location,” he said, but added that India is a “very important” market.

“India is a huge market and the people are cinema lovers. So, we are definitely looking forward to releasing more Russian movies here (in India).”

What’s the USP of Russian films’

“All our movies are very emotion-driven. ‘The Crew’ is about a mid-air rescue mission, but apart from the graphics you will be amazed at the emotions displayed in the movie. So, maybe that is the reason why our movies stand out,” he said.

Shot in IMAX 3D, the film was released in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States in April 2016.

The Nikolay Lebedev directorial stars Danila Kozlovsky and Vladimir Mashkov, who has featured in Hollywood films like “Behind Enemy Lines” and “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”.

(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at natalia.n@ians.in )

By Natalia Ningthoujam

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