Dima Bilan is one of the biggest stars to have appeared and won Eurovision. In 2006 he entered the contest in Athens representing his country Russia. He came second with his entry Never Let You Go. He returned two years later in 2008 to win the contest in Belgrade with the composition Believe. The act on stage also included Hungarian violinist Edvin Marton and Russian Olympic three-time world champion figure skater Evgeni Plushenko.
Dima is now carving up for himself a new movie career. As part of the Russian Film Week, Dima was in London promoting his new film, Heritage Of Love – know in Russia as Geroy (“Hero”).
Heritage Of Love is a romantic and somewhat magical action drama which covers a love story that spans generations – from the Russian Revolution up to present times set in the city of love, Paris. Dima’s hero falls in love with the same woman time and time again.
Dima was kind enough to grant OGAE UK an interview with Vision Magazine editor, Hass Yusuf. Due to Dima’s lack of English an interpreter had to be used, which unfortunately ate up a lot of time, but here’s the short interview.
Hass Yusuf: Would you like to briefly describe your new film, Heritage Of Love?
Dima Bilan: The whole storyline is based on this love story. We all think that it is just love, but in context of a history and the whole plot, it’s just not love – it gives everything it can about the subject. Here love gets magical – and when I say magical, I mean love here means life and death. I think the meaning of love has changed, but here in this movie, this is pure love. And I’m not just choosing popular words. I feel this moment. This was an opportunity for me to feel the body of the character in my skin – I tried to imagine myself in that situation as if I was my great-grandfather during the Russian Revolution.
HY: You definitely sound as if you believed in the role. It must have been very personal to you – identifying with the hero.
DB: I would like to be honest with you – I would love to be that hero!
HY: So would I – who wouldn’t be?!
DB: (Laughs) Yes, I am a normal man. I would love to be a hero – have ‘Hero’ as my second name!
HY: I thought you acted very well in the film. Your acting seemed quite natural. Did you need a lot of training?
DB: Yes, in the institute where I studied I had some acting parts. We had to train for many classical parts for the theatre.
HY: So you basically trained in all the performing arts?
DB: Yes, I feel I studied everything.
HY: Of course a lot of singers have become big movie stars, from Frank Sinatra to Barbra Streisand to Mark Walberg to Justin Timberlake – just to name a few.
DB: Because music and acting – it is all art. Like one big family.
HY: Yes, I guess it’s all about performing. One thing I’ve noticed about you is that you don’t just stand there and sing a song, you perform it. I remember that during your Eurovision performances in 2006 and 2008 you really utilized the whole stage – you were telling a story.
DB: Yes, I tried to.
HY: Well I think the film is going to do really well for you. You’ve already won numerous music awards, you must be aiming for a few acting awards now! Presumably you’ll be carrying on with your movie career. How does an Oscar one day sound to you?
DB: (Laughs) Well everything that seemed very distant, very impossible at the time, now is coming much closer. Because of the internet and globalisation, there are now no distant borders between countries – just borders of the mind. People are much closer to each other now. In some time I know and I feel there will be a big company who wants to go into the Russian market. It’s very important to work with professional people – musicians and actors, because the markets of the world are there.
HY: Do you feel that as a singer you have to constantly reinvent yourself to stay fresh in the industry? I guess you always have to try new things to stay contemporary? I imagine you don’t just want to stay a pop singer for your whole career? Maybe even doing some TV presenting like this year’s Russian contestant for Eurovision Sergey Lazarev?
DB: Considering the current state of the world, it is definitely important to keep moving, to keep developing. There is an important decision to be made – either you move forward with your art changing your music, developing that part. You even move forward with PR – with interesting stories! But no scandals or false stories! (Laughs)
HY: Yes, I heard and read loads of saucy stories about you during your Eurovision periods! I imagine most of them weren’t true!
DB: Yes, they were all lies! (Laughs)
HY: Can I quickly talk to you, as time is running out, about your Eurovision experiences?
DB: Of course.
HY: Now you came second in 2006 in Athens with a really good performance, but that obviously wasn’t good enough for you. You really wanted to win the contest.
DB: Yes, it was my dream!
HY: So you came back in 2008 in Belgrade and achieved that dream!
DB: Yes! (Places hand on heart)
HY: Now did you know that you were the third person to win the contest performing barefoot? But you were the bravest – what with a pair of ice skates skirting close around you. I remembering watching the rehearsals and wishing the skater wouldn’t get too close to you!
DB: (Smiles and makes a slicing sound and gesture)
HY: I knew that year that Russia really, really wanted to win the contest. I remember that at the press contest after you got through from your semi-final and you were going to pick out from a pot your performing position – that if you picked out number 24, you were going to win the contest. And you did!
DB: Yes, my dream came true!
HY: You tried again in 2012 to entre the contest…
DB: You want to ask me if I want to go Eurovision once more? Yes, I want!!
HY: But would you really want to do it all again?
DB: But only if I could make it more exciting, to make it more of a movement in Eurovision, then I would do it – but not just for myself.
HY: Well that’s encouraging to hear.
DB: Well if I get bored with life, I’ll go for it!
HY: Well listen Dima, you’ve got a lot of fans and friends in Eurovision. Everyone loved it when you won, so do come back. Our time is up – lots of luck with the film and your career.
DB: Thank you.