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Ashik Kerib
original Russian film poster
Directed by Dodo Abashidze
Sergei Parajanov
Screenplay by Gia Badridze
Based on Ashik Kerib
by Mikhail Lermontov
Starring Yuri Mgoyan
Sofiko Chiaureli
Ramaz Chkhikvadze
Konstantin Stepankov
Music by Javanshir Guliyev
Cinematography Albert Yavuryan
Release dates
  • 1988 (1988)
Running time
73 min
Country Soviet Union (Georgian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR)
Language Georgian/Azerbaijani

Ashik Kerib (Georgian: აშიკ-ქერიბი) (literally, "the strange lover") is a 1988 film by the Soviet- Georgian and Armenian filmmakers Dodo Abashidze and Sergei Parajanov based on the short story of the same name by Mikhail Lermontov. It was Parajanov's last completed film and was dedicated to his close friend Andrei Tarkovsky, who had died two years previously. The film also features a detailed portrayal of Azerbaijani culture.


Poor Ashik Kerib plays the Bağlama at weddings and other celebrations. He falls in love with Magul-Megeri who is a daughter of a rich man but her father opposes since Ashik Kerib is poor and he expects rich prospects for his 'daughter from heaven'. Ashik Kerib vows to wander for seven years to get rich or die.

A rival steals clothes from Ashik Kerib. Others think that Ashik Kerib drowned. Ashik Kerib's mother loses her vision from the tears that she cried. His rival persistently tries to get Magul Maher's hand in marriage.

The poor musician goes to the Sultan and sings about his love. The Sultan really enjoys his song and bestows gold to Ashik Kerib. For seven years he lives in abundance and almost forgets his bride.

After a wonderful meeting with a mysterious rider on a white horse Ashik Kerib is able to fulfill every wish with the help of a magical means. He moves to his native village and finds himself at the wedding of his beloved who was taken away, and the man guilty of the past misfortunes.

In the house of the rich man he is ridiculed because people find out that Ashik Kerib assures his listeners that he has made his long journey in a blink of an eye which usually takes more than a day.

The furious bride threatens to kill Ashik Kerib. To prove the veracity of his words he requests to bring his blind mother to the wedding feast. The heartbroken woman who is convinced of her son's death is brought into the room where the guests gathered. Ashik Kerib rubs his mother's unseeing eyes with a white handkerchief and returns her vision.

The shamed opponent runs away and Ashik Kerib celebrates his victory clad in white and prepares for the wedding with his newfound lover.


The entire story is told in a way of Azerbaijan folklore with music and colour playing a key role. Dialogue is minimal and scripts are used to narrate the plot changes. The director included intentional anachronisms such as the use of submachine guns and a movie camera.


Parajanov's previous three major films were colourful illustrations of Ukrainian, Armenian and Georgian culture. Ashik Kerib similarly explores traditional Azerbaijani clothes, music, dance, art and customs.


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