Bollywood and Bolsheviks: Indo-Soviet Collaboration in Literature and Film, 1954-1991 charts the dynamic exchange of writers, translators, publishers, actors, and film producers between India and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Combining a range of audio, video, and print material, including a series of oral history interviews filmed this summer in India and Russia, this exhibition highlights India’s role in shaping Soviet movie-going culture and the critical role that translation and new forms of print technology played in bringing Soviet literature to audiences in India and Bangladesh. From the casting of Bolshoi ballerinas and Soviet circus artists in hit Bollywood productions to the engagement of hundreds of South Asian translators in Soviet publishing houses, visitors will be immersed in the interconnected Indo-Soviet media and technoscapes of the second half of twentieth century.
To draw attention to the global effects and afterlife of Indo-Soviet cultural collaboration, this exhibition also features oral history interviews with Seattle-area community members who spent their childhoods either reading Soviet literature in South Asia or watching Bollywood films in the Soviet Union. Their stories speak to the transformative power of foreign cultural encounters, the magic of translation, and the historical value in looking at the Cold War through the lens of the Indo-Soviet relationship.
Combining print material in twelve languages, digital oral history interviews, and historical artifacts from India and the Soviet Union, this installation explores the production, circulation, and consumption of Indian films and Soviet literature during the Cold War and the far-reaching effects of this dynamic cultural exchange on the lives of Seattle’s South Asian and ex-Soviet community members.
Mellon Fellow for Public Projects in the Humanities
PhD Student, Modern South Asian History
History Department, University of Washington
Exhibit open March 1- May 31, 2017