Kristina Akheeva. Source: Ankur Batra
While many Russians had a soft corner for Indian cinema, Khabarovsk-born actress Kristina Akheeva wants to further bolster the bond between the two nations by acting as a cultural ambassador. Being the latest to join Bollywood bandwagon, this half Russian, half Australian model is looking to lap up more movie offers apart from doing some social and cultural work.
Akheeva proudly calls herself a Russian mascot in the Hindi film world, and is asking the production team of her upcoming film Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 to explore Russia for its release.
“I have my fingers crossed. I really want it to be screened in Moscow and other parts of Russia,” says Akheeva, who is considers herself a true Russian despite the fact she migrated to Australia at the age of seven. “Though I stay in Australia but half of my family is in Russia. You can blame it on my roots, I always had special liking for Indian culture and their films.”
Remembering the moment when her family, especially her mom would sit and watch Hindi movies. “She would go on endlessly and talk about the depth of Indian cinema besides its high life. Earlier I was not able to comprehend, but now when I am in the industry I can figure out what she exactly meant,” says Akheeva, who’s travelled to various countries as a model. “I have been to a lot of countries, but India is a place I always wanted to visit. It took time but when it materialized, it turned out to be extra fruitful.”
Though Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 has a different backdrop and a plot where three popular Indian actors, also father-sons, Dharmendra, Bobby Deol and Sunny Deol essay diverse characters, Kristina plays a role of an Indo-British girl Reet. “Apart from dialogues, what amazed me the most was traditional Indian attire. I never realised I could look so nice in that,” she says. In the film she plays love interest of Sunny, who’s otherwise a shy guy. “I am the one who makes him express his feelings for me in the movie. It was a challenging role but it went well.”
Her family back in Russia and Australia are excited about her Indian movie outing. “They are already elated and are calling me to take updates,” says Akheeva while comparing the Indian and Russian cinema. “Emotions play an important role. Also, if we compare old times, the things have not changed much. What has been altered is the technique and storyline.”
Working with established actors, especially veteran Dharmendra, whose wife Hema Malini is known in Russia for her double role in Seeta Aur Geeta, Akheeva says she learnt the finer nuances of acting. “I always wanted to act. One thing I want to say is that the kind of exposure I am getting in India, it’s wonderful. Also, when I was offered this role, I was a little hesitant, but then I knew a little bit about Indian cinema. I picked up some movies and watched them. Later, I felt that all my apprehensions are gone and I am mentally prepared to do the role.”
The Russian actress is also taking diction and Hindi classes as she’s looking to make Bollywood her permanent home. “I am here to stay and do a lot of work,” she said, adding, “I am also open for international projects.”
Since Akheeva is engrossed in work in India, she continues to stay abreast of all the latest happenings back in the Russian industry through the film festivals happening there. From Kinotavr, a platform for several Russian filmmakers, being held in Sochi, to Moscow International Film Festival and the St Petersburg International Film Festival, Ahkeeva regularly updates her knowledge about emerging trends and the latest happenings.
The Russian actress doesn’t find Hindi difficult. “People have this notion that it’s tough. Many think like this about Russian. But I feel it’s a great language and is easy to grasp. I am learning it and soon you will see me interacting in chaste Hindi.”
After the film is released Akheeva plans to travel to Russia and pass on CDs of the film, with incorporated Russian sub-titles.
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