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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Bollywood Blossoms in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- A new film industry is on the rise in Uzbekistan: Dozens of inexpensive but profitable movies featuring pop divas and heart-wrenching plots.

With their garish colors and low budgets, the films have Bollywood elements -- but with a twist reflecting Uzbekistan's history in Russia's shadow.

"They mostly combine Indian cinema and Russian drama -- story lines go on like in Bollywood, but usually with no happy endings," filmmaker Dmitry Korobkin observed.

The recent box-office hit titled "Romeo va Julietta" fits the pattern perfectly. Director Bakhrom Yakubov places Shakespeare's tragedy in modern-day Uzbekistan, an arid Central Asian country of 26 million. The main characters, renamed Rovshan and Jamilya, come from two rich households. Following the Bollywood standards of decency, the star-crossed lovers never share a kiss, let alone a bed.

Fans also flocked to a rare Uzbek film with a happy ending -- Rustam Sagdiyev's "Pushy Daughter-in-Law." In the film, a chic, big-city girl falls for a student from a parochial hamlet, where Muslim values are strong.

At least 30 films were made in Uzbekistan in 2006, producer Ruben Arzumanov said, compared to 20 in 2005 and a handful in the 1990s.