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Soviet ties

Forty years ago,a beautiful Russian trapeze artist had romanced Rishi Kapoor in the film Mera Naam Joker.

Written by Debesh Banerjee |
September 9, 2009 5:23:19 am

Russian actress Kseniya Ryabinkina and Rishi Kapoor are back together four decades after Mera Naam Joker

Forty years ago,a beautiful Russian trapeze artist had romanced Rishi Kapoor in the film Mera Naam Joker. Her name was Marina,played by the petite Kseniya Ryabinkina and their brief unspoken love was full of shy smiles and coy glances. Now,for the first time since that 1970 classic,the Moscow-based Ryabinkina and Kapoor reunite on screen in Chintuji,and their pairing is as heartwarming as ever; she’s still gorgeous and he’s still cute.

“It was wonderful to see him after so many years,” says Ryabinkina,60,with a chuckle. “I still remember the time when Rishi had come with his father Raj Kapoor to receive me at the Mumbai airport. He was a handsome young boy,very polite and charming.” Ryabinkina was 21 then and they did not have many scenes together. “But we’ve made up for that now. Rishi looks so much like his father now,” she adds.

Chintuji is loosely based on real incidents from Rishi Kapoor’s life. The actor adds that Ryabinkina’s role would touch a chord of nostalgia with the audience. “We were both very young when we did Mera Naam Joker. During shooting of Chintuji,we spoke a lot about the days gone by,” he says.

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For the last few years,Ryabinkina had been dreaming of visiting India. “When the offer for Chintuji came,I was more excited about meeting Rishi than acting in the film,” she smiles,her eyes twinkling. She was a professional ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet

Academy when Mera Naam Joker happened,though Raj Kapoor cast her as a trapeze artist in a circus. “It was not a difficult part since a trapeze artist also requires high levels of flexibility,” she explains in faltering English.

Although she stopped performing at the age of 40,Ryabinkina teaches young girls the nuances of ballet at a government academy in between her movie schedules as an actor. “Even if age does not permit me to dance,I can still train the next generation of ballerinas. But acting is my prime passion these days,” she adds,having wrapped up shooting for her eleventh Russian film last October.

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First published on: 09-09-2009 at 05:23:19 am

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