Ru Az


Menshov in Baku! This news brought me to a state of absolute happiness! The happiness of an actress who finally meets the director of her dreams, the happiness of a little girl who has represented herself as the heroine of his film stories since childhood.
I principally did not want to prepare for an interview, I did not want to ask standard questions, the answers to which can be easily found on the web. I just wanted to talk with my idol - mentally, easily and without officialdom. Well, it all started with the traditional Azerbaijani soup “Dushbara”...

Menshov knocks me out at first sight. His fantastic magnetism and stunning energy are so disarming that, despite my decent journalistic experience, I was at one point taken aback...

And here we are sitting with Vladimir Valentinovich vis-a-vis: he studies the menu, I am a little nervous and fidgeting on a chair. Our food preferences are the same, and we order a good old Dushabara - a fitting start to a heart-to-heart conversation. Vladimir Valentinovich does not smile. It seems to me that he is not in the mood, and my nervous system slowly starts to malfunction: the palms are wet, the look is lost, the voice is breaking... But, looking into his eyes in color of the summer sky, I understand that this person is simply tired. I assume command, and then, during a peaceful meal with a successful outcome, I use the heavy artillery of my questions.

Vladimir Valentinovich, I don't want to ask trivial questions, but I can't ignore your childhood and memories of Baku...

I have long-standing memories of Baku. My parents met on a passenger ship traveling from Baku to Iran. My father, Valentin Mikhailovich Menshov, was the first assistant captain, my mother, Antonina Alexandrovna, was a maid on the ship. Later, my mother moved my sisters to Baku, as they decided to finally settle here. Therefore, I always had a connection with this city, despite the fact that by the time I was born, that is, in 1939, my father began to work in the NKVD, and in 1947 he was already transferred to Arkhangelsk. My next return to my historical homeland took place in the 60s. Until I could pass the competition several times at the theater school, I had to earn extra money as a sailor on a diving boat. I lived in Baku until the moment when I was finally accepted into the school.

Vladimir Valentinovich began to wander, plunging into memories. And I could not believe my ears: Oscar-winner Menshov was hardly accepted into the theater school! And yet I dare to ask again:

Is it not paradoxical that, as a rule, great people at the beginning of their careers face the fact that at first no one wants to know them, they are not even accepted into universities? And then suddenly - there you go! - Oscars, and awards, wonderful works and roles. Why?

It's hard for me to answer why. I don't know, I just believe in higher powers. There are a lot of talented people, but I got the Oscar. You will probably be surprised, but in the Soviet Union, we did not know about the existence of the Academy Award for a long time. Therefore, I could not even set such goals for myself that like: “I will grow up and win an Oscar”. No, there were no such goals. It just happened.

If it was anyone else in front of me, I would surely have thought that a person was being modest or pretending. But, peering into the master's facial expressions, into his sharp wrinkles, acquired for many years and hard daily life, you understand that the owner of such a deep and soulful look cannot be cunning...

The state of unspeakable delight still overwhelms me. I am periodically distracted by the next dish, automatically absorbed by us during the conversation, but the coordination of movements occurs exclusively on reflex damage, since my eyes are focused on my hero. Seems like falling in love? Yeah, it looks like that... To bring myself to my senses, I move on to the next question...

You have a very artistic family. Both daughter and spouse are talented women. How do you all get along, because it's no secret to anyone that talented people are quite peculiar in everyday life.

You're right, indeed, when creative people live together, it becomes a test in a way. For example, at first, I tried to put pressure on my daughter, demanded her to behave as I told. Until she somehow told me, that she would do as she wanted. It was the same with my wife. Therefore, now we rarely have loud conversations and confrontations. But for me personally, a relationship in a family where one person is creative and the other is scientific is much more mysterious.

Our famous artist Tahir Salakhov always calls his wife a muse and finds his comfort in her. And she, in turn, idolizes him. This is the recipe for harmony in their relationship. Does this scheme work in your relationship with your wife?

In my opinion, it is much more interesting when they idolize in turns: one creates, and the other one idolizes. In our relationship with my wife, this is exactly what happens: where it is necessary - we support, where needed - we will treat professionally, find out for ourselves what is bad or good, what needs to be taken into account for the future. This is, as it were, an involuntary constant training, which in itself is an intra-family rarity.

How to explain to your family at home that this is just a script in a movie?

This, of course, is an excuse, because this is not just a movie. But it was easier for me when I filmed with my wife, because everything happened under my supervision and control. Although, perhaps, if I came to the cinema and saw a certain scene, it would hurt me. And this despite the fact that I have absolute confidence in my wife, but still... I know that light matter arises between the actor and the actress during the filming. Such scenes do not happen in vain, they have a continuation, they lead to divorce or marriage. Therefore, I do not know how to explain this to the family. You can trust or not trust, but in any case, if you take it that way, then you need to give up your profession or husband. Well, and Dad will forgive...

Can you call the Oscar you received soulful, but not commercial?

Oscar was commercial. Everything was conceived as a frankly commercial film, which opposed itself to the artistic search for a real Russian creative intelligentsia. Some then tried to repeat such a movie, but could not, realized that it was not easy. This is really not easy, since it requires special talent.

I myself always liked audience cinema, I was brought up at the cinema of the 30s. Probably, this is my drawback, because I did not notice the transition, when cinema became anti-civil, emphasizing its independence, division not for the hall, but for myself, for my friends...
There is no one in cinema for me above Fellini, precisely because of his inherent self-irony, which even such serious talents as Tarkovsky or Bergman do not have.

There is an opinion about you as a defender of Russian cinema. How would you describe Russian cinema today?

Russian cinema is a special case of Russian history, the highest point of which was the Great Patriotic War, this is an attitude towards Russian life. You say Russian cinema - it's too responsible and unlawful to classify everyone as Russian cinematography. But it has changed a lot over the last 20 years and it continues to change whether we want it or not. A new generation has grown up, which is not very close to it all. But people are responding, still responding...

Observing you in the "Watch" I can’t help the feeling, that in addition to acting and professionalism, there is a certain other side, the underside of a person, hidden from the eyes, and, playing the complete opposite of yourself, playing fiction, you actually play yourself.

It's hard to explain, it was an experimental picture, we didn't understand much about what was going on because there was a lot of computer graphics. Now it has become familiar, but at that time it was the first attempt.

What do you think your tomorrow will be like?

Rehearsal of the play, shooting, two films keep going, one begins and I hope that I will soon make a new film!


Lunch was over and our conversation was going on and on. From cinema, we moved on to discussing books, and I talked about Kurban Said's iconic book "Ali and Nino" for Azerbaijani culture. Vladimir Valentinovich became very interested in the book and asked it to read. Of course, I didn't have it with me. And despite the fact that Menshov was already in a hurry to the airport, we managed to deliver the book, which made the master very happy. I could not miss such a chance to fulfill the request and do something nice for my idol...