When Millions Of Azerbaijani Fans Wanted A Glimpse Of Raj Kapoor

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  Did you Know?   When Millions Of Azerbaijani Fans Wanted A Glimpse Of Raj Kapoor

When Millions Of Azerbaijani Fans Wanted A Glimpse Of Raj Kapoor

Back in the 50's, Raj Kapoor popularized Bollywood in Azerbaijan at such a grand scale that millions gathered to have a glimpse of him when he visited Baku in 1956.
Oct 10, 2016, 1:49 pm ISTDid you Know?JhakaasMovies Staff

Not many people in India know about Azerbaijan.  We asked a few random people in Mumbai in Hindi "Kya aap Azerbaijan ke baare mein jaante ho?" and we got one funny response "Azhar Bhaijaan? Mere koi bhai ka naam Azhar nahi hai" (Brother in law Azhar? Sorry none of my in-laws go by this name), Bhaijan is a term used to address one's brother or brother in law in the Indian Muslim Community and probably that caused a confusion in the area where we questioned these random people. Of course the educated ones do know about Azerbaijan.  For those who don't, here is a brief overview about the country:

Azerbaijan is a small and a beautiful country situated at the crossroads of Southwest Asia and South Eastern Europe.  It shares its northern borders with Russia and southern borders with Iran. Azerbaijan was a part of the Soviet Union from 1920 through 1991. Like India, Azerbaijan is also a secular nation, though the majority of its population consists of Shiite Muslims. It has a high rate of economic development.

Now coming to Bollywood, Two and Half hours of Drama mixed with lovely songs shot on beautiful actors, our brand of cinema has  been thriving in Azerbaijan for decades. Interestingly, the name Nargis is popular for girls in Azerbaijan because of Bollywood actress Nargis.  Indian movies have had a huge audience in Azerbaijan since 1950s.  Bollywood became more popular back in 1965 when Soviet Union, wary of Hollywood, found it necessary to show Bollywood movies in Cinemas. If you visit Azerbaijan, you would find many Azeri who know more about Indian films and songs than most of us.

Azerbaijan also had a strong influence on the Indian culture. The popular tale of Laila-Majnu is actually an Indian rendition of Leyli Majnun which was written by an Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi in the 12th Century.

A few years ago when Dr. Tamerlan Karayev, Ambassador of Azerbaijan, was in India, he said, “We have literally grown up watching Hindi movies. Even today Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and Mithun Chakraborty are legends in Azerbaijan. We wholeheartedly accepted the Indian culture as a part of our own".

Raj Kapoor was extremely popular in Azerbaijan. His movie Awaara was loved by everyone in the former Soviet Union. Not just in Azerbaijan, the movie was the first Hindi film to be successful in Russia. Raj Kapoor's Shri 420 only cemented his reputation in Azerbaijan. Back in the 1950's, the former Soviet Union proved to be among India's most reliable allies helping India develop economically by building steel plants and dams. The relationship wasn't lopsided, Bollywood exports from India became common and Raj Kapoor became an icon in the former Soviet Union. Among Kapoor's friends in the Soviet Union was the prominent Azerbaijani tenor Rashid Behbudov, who showed his fondness for India by including the patriotic song "Saare Jahan Se Achha" in his repertoire.

Check this archive video showing Raj Kapoor's arrival and stay in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. See the number of fans who gather to have just a glimpse of our Bollywood superstar and his co-star: