IFFI: India to Honor Russian Film-Maker Nikita Mikhalkov with Lifetime Achievement Award

By Syed Mahmoud Nawaz
The author is Special Correspondent of Urdu fortnightly MUSTAQBIL, New Delhi

Nikita Mikhalkov and Syed Mahmoud Nawaz
Syed Mahmoud Nawaz in conversation with Nikita Mikhalkov

New Delhi, Nov 27 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) Nikita Sergeyevich Mikhalkov, the world renowned film maker from Russia will be conferred upon, the Lifetime Achievement Award during the closing ceremony of the 46th International Film Festival of India.

It has been a long journey for the master. Exposed to genuine literary talk at home as a child, Nikita Mikhalkov developed an artistic bent of mind. His father was the famous Russian poet Sergey Mikhalkov who wrote the lyrics of the Soviet national anthem and later the Russian national anthem and his mother Natalya Petrovna Konchalovskaya was also a poet. “Mama was a great influence. She was closest to me. She taught me to love humanity and to love life. In fact both, my father’s family and my mother’s family had many great artists and I owe a lot to them”, says Mikhalkov.

Starting his career as an actor in the beginning, he joined the All Union State Institute for Cinematography (VGIK) and came under the guidance of his illustrious teacher Mikhail Ilych Romm. “The great thing about Mikhail Romm was that he could turn any situation into cinema and this is how I started learning how to adapt and improvise” remembers Mikhalkov. He added,“All through my career I have never considered the blue script of my films as the Bible. It is only a guideline and I make it a point to leave ample space for improvisation and I am always open to the ideas of those who act in my films. I have always wanted my films to breathe and to compliment life”.

With his kind of cinema, Nikita Mikhalkov took the Soviet and later the Russian cinema to new heights of global excellence. His film ‘Dark Eyes’ which was inspired by some of Anton Chekov stories opened up great global avenues for his work. The master Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni received the best actor award at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the ‘Dark Eyes’. “Marcello was a genius who never got bogged down by clichés. Once he came up to me after our shooting and patted on my shoulder and said ‘Now I feel like I am in the company of a young Fellini’. This was the biggest compliment of my life” remembers a nostalgic Nikita.

In 1992, his next film ‘Urga’ which touched upon the lives of Mongols received the Golden Lion Award at the Venice film festival and then in 1994 came his film ‘Burnt by the Sun’ which went on to win the Oscar at the Academy for being the Best Foreign Language Film and also the Grand Prize at Cannes . The film depicts the story of a senior Red Army officer and his family during the Great Purge of the late 1930s in the Stalinist Soviet Union. “It is easy to build opinion about the past but I don’t judge people or political system. I always try to make absolutely honest films depicting the life and times of a period” explains the master film maker. He added “ And I also don’t make my films for getting awards but when the recognition comes I humbly accept it and I am honored to join the list of very eminent and distinguished personalities who have been conferred the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Indian Government during the International Film Festivals of India”.

Along with his film ‘Burnt by the Sun’, his epic venture ‘The Barber of Siberia’, ‘Oblomov’ and ‘Sunstroke’ are being screened under the tribute section during the 46th IFFI.

“We have stopped being thankful and we have stopped thinking that we all are the creation of God. The world today is tired of its own greed. This must stop. It is only through love, patience and humor can we coexist in peace. We need to live in conformity with the laws of nature. We need not pluck flowers to enjoy their fragrance”, emphasizes the master craftsman. Nikita Mikhalkov is also involved with a lot of philanthropic work. He has set up a trust- Urga which is a union of cinematographers as well as an organization known as 12 (Twelve) through which a number of social welfare activities are taken up for supporting artists and others.

Now Nikita Mikhalkov is planning to form EUROASIA Academy to promote and support excellence in cinema and he wishes that this becomes far more inclusive.

Nikita Mikhalkov fell in love with India long ago when he came here for the first time. Humming the song ‘Awara hoon....He added “Raj Kapoor was so popular in Soviet times that he could have even become our President. All Russians just love India”.