Is Shalyapin really going to go Kazan?

Shalyapin hotel had a press conference dedicated to the kick-off of a new project – the shooting of a film about great citizen of Kazan Fyodor Shalyapin. Suhba JSC in partnership with Gorizont Kino CJSC became the investor of the new film. The idea of making a film about Fyodor Shalyapin is great, in itself. But some moments of the press conference caused misunderstanding. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

'To be shown next year'

Film producer Vera Sokolova started the press conference as moderator and told that the film about Shalyapin would be a full length live-action film financed by Suhba JSC and Gorizont Kino CJSC. Sokolova did not give a clear answer to the question about at least an approximate budget of the film. She explained the budget of the future film was comparable with budgets of European films. Suhba JSC was represented by its President Tokhir Tukhtarov. According to the press release handed out at the press conference, Suhba, which is translated as 'community', is a company with a multi-targeted business model. It works in marketing, online advertising, sales and so on. Sukhba has recently has a new department – a namesake film company.

''I love Kazan. I understand the uniqueness of Shalyapin's personality. I want to popularise our city around the world because Kazan is one of the best cities of the world,'' Tokhir Tukhtarov commented on the motives for his participation in the projects.

Suhba JSC was represented by its President Tokhir Tukhtarov. Photo:

The second co-investor, Gorizont Kino CJSC has not recommended itself in cinematography with anything notorious yet. The same press release says that documentary Caesar's Son Vovka, which won in one of the nominations in Tashkent International Film Festival and full-length action film The Law of Talion were shown at several weeks of Russian cinema abroad. It is clear that the main artistic victories of Gorizont Kino, which was founded in 2011, are ahead.

Vera Sokolova said the film about Fyodor Shalyapin would be shot during a year. Its premiere is scheduled for December 2018. And the presentation is to certainly take place in Kazan.

French actor Samy Naceri, who is famous for Luc Besson's Taxi film, and French singer Mourad Bouraoui who was popular in the 90s of the last century were present in the press conference. Vera Sokolova explained Tokhir Tukhtarov invited them to take part in the film. He was touched that both Naceri and Bouraoui did not support sanctions against Russia and agreed to participate in the film about Fyodor Shalyapin. But we did not manage to know what they would do in the film. Neither the actor nor the singer know it because they did not see the script.

'To be a fantasy'

Director of the future film Sergey Kozhaev who played in many films – his works as actor dominate in his biography over works as director – explained that the film would not be a biography but fantasy. According to his words, Shalyapin was not a historical personality but a kind of symbol of Kazan and Russia, which, however, it is difficult to argue with.

Maksim Timofeyev and Samy Naceri. Photo: Olga Lyubimova (

In answer to the question of Realnoe Vremya's reporter whether archived records of Shalyapin's voice would be used in the film because the Shalyapin bass can't be confused, the director noted opaquely that a big technical job would be done. For some reason, he said that 'adaptors will work' and reminded how the voice of Vladimir Vysotsky was replayed in the film about the actor. It concerned a bit because Shalyapin's voice is unique and we would not like to do experiments with it.

Kozhaev is also the scriptwriter. Then Realnoe Vremya's reporter asked whether the script of Mask and Soul was used in creation of the script, the director's face was sincerely puzzled. I had to explain that Mask and Soul is Fyodor Shalyapin's memoires that had a great number of copies and translated into many languages.

The casting for roles still continues. But the performer of the main role has already been chosen. It is a nice and smiling young man of Slavic appearance and medium height who came to the press conference in a sport suit, Maksim Timofeyev. Coincidentally,he is the director general of new Suhba film company. There were not noted even remote coincidences with Fyodor Shalyapin's appearance.

We managed to know that Timofeyev comes from Nobosibirsk Oblast and graduated from the Moscow Institute of Culture's Conducting Department in Ryazan. He sings bass, participates in many concert projects. We could not know anything about his participation in opera. But his repertoire has arias from Shalyapin's repertoire, for instance, Gremin or Ivan Susanin.

Mask and Soul is Fyodor Shalyapin's memoires that had a great number of copies and translated into many languages

Sergey Kozhaev explained the film's temporary title is Shalyapin is Going to Go to Kazan. He is going to see the locations that can be used in the film during two days. Nothing clear was said whether historians would participate in the shooting as consultants because there are many experts in Shalyapin's art in Russia, which is proved by annual Shalyapin readings in Kazan.

Well, we can only wait – whether we will see a decent film about Fyodor Shalyapin or it is the next 'project'.

By Tatiana Mamaeva

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