Russia's "Ne Rodis Krasivoy" (Не Родись Красивой; Be Not Born Beautiful) was another huge hit for the international "Betty" franchise, and of all the international adaptions it was probably the most faithful to "Yo soy Betty, la fea". Other than the fact that it had a total of 200 episodes, 31 more than the Colombian original, it was a true foreign-language remake.
The series, which premiered on CTC (Set Televizionni Stantsii, Network Television Stations) on September 5, 2005, starred Nelli Uvarova as Katya Pushkaryova and Grigori Antipenko as her boss and love interest, Andrei Pavlovich Zhdanov. The workplace portion of the story took place at Zimaletto, a prestigious Moscow fashion house. Katya lived in an apartment with her parents, Yelena and Valery Pushkaryov.
The title of the series refers to a Russian proverb, "Be not born beautiful, but be born happy." The last episode aired on July 7, 2006.
Katerina 'Katya' Valerievna Pushkaryova is a very intelligent and highly educated young woman. She ventures out to get her first real job since graduating from the university, but she has no luck in securing employment. In desperation, she applies for a job for which she is overqualified, secretary to Andrei Pavlovich Zhdanov, the new president of Zimaletto [Note: The company name is derived from the words zima (winter) and lyeto (summer).]. Katya obviously does not have much interest in the fashion world, but after having had no luck finding employment anywhere else she is willing to take almost any job she can get. Since she suspects that her appearance is the main hindrance in her quest for employment, she decides not to attach the customary photo to the résumé that she remits to Georgi Uryadov, the head of the Personnel department at Zimaletto.
After her interview, it appears that she won't be getting the job, but her qualifications lead to her getting a call-back. It turns out that she has to compete for the position with the beautiful, but less qualified, Viktoria 'Vika' Klochkova, who is the best friend of Andrei's girlfriend, Kira Yurievna Voropayeva. Kira wants Vika to get the job so she can keep tabs on Andrei's comings and goings, because Kira suspects that Andrei has a habit of romancing a string of models and other beauties.
Andrei has just recently acquired his position as head of Zimaletto after his father, Pavel, decided to turn over the reins of the business. But the transition of the presidency from father to son was never a foregone conclusion. The choices for Pavel's replacement came down to Andrei and Aleksandr Yurievich Voropayev. Aleksandr and his sisters, Kira and Kristina, were raised by Margarita and Pavel Zhdanov after the death of their parents, who were co-founders of Zimaletto and major shareholders of company stock. The deciding vote to determine who the new president of the company would be was cast by Kira, so Andrei ensured his election by getting engaged to Kira before the board meeting at which the vote would be held. Andrei's plan worked and Kira indeed gave her vote to him, and in doing so she chose to support her future husband instead of her own brother.
Upon meeting Andrei for the first timeby (literally) bumping into himKatya is in awe of him at first sight. The feeling is decidedly not mutual. However, Andrei can't ignore Katya's qualifications, nor can he warm up to the prospect of being saddled with the inept Vika, so he hires Katya to be his assistant, but to appease Kira he also hire's Vika for a secretarial position. He sets up a work space for Katya in a tiny storage closet that is connected to his office, and he stations the decorative Vika at a desk outside the entrance to his office. Vika immediately resents that the ugly girl has more of the boss's respect and holds more responsibility. Roman Malinovsky, the company's Marketing Director and Andrei's best friend, relentlessly teases his buddy about his ugly new assistant.
Not wanting to upset her father, Valery, Katya lets him think that she has been hired for a position more fitting for someone with her education and abilities. She doesn't want him to know that she's just a secretary, nor that she's tucked away in a closet. If he were to discover the truth, her father would probably demand that she quit, but knowing that her family is depending on her income, she tries to speak as little as possible about her office duties.
Katya soon proves herself to be loyal and completely trustworthy. Before long, Andrei entrusts her with his "black book," which contains information about all of his love affairs, dates, etc. Kira soon discovers that Katya has this book in her possession and she asks Vika to get her hands on the book, but she's unsuccessful. From this point onward, Kira considers Katya to be her sworn enemy, believing her to be an accomplice to Andrei's constant infidelities.
At Zimaletto, Katya initially feels like a complete outsider, judging herself quite the ugly duckling in comparison with Vika and the many models who work for the design house. Soon, however, she meets a clique of middle-class female employees who, not measuring up to the widely-accepted standards of beauty that give women like Vika an advantage in society, share many of the problems that Katya faces within the superficial world of fashion. Amura is a young and good-humored woman who claims to have the gift of second sight; Olga is the patient, motherly assistant of petulant designer Milko Momchilovich; Masha is the sassy receptionist and single mother who is constantly in search of a rich man to be a husband for her and a father figure for young her son; Tatiana is a wife and mother who is struggling with her weight and is the secretary of the smarmy Personnel Director, Uryadov; Svetlana is Kira's hot-tempered secretary, who is dealing with the infidelity of her husband, Zakhar, who recently left her for a young wannabe model named Mariana; and Shura is Roman's tall secretary, who believes that her height hinders her ability to find a husband.
Vika constantly finds herself plagued by financial troubles, deservedly so, because of her extravagant taste for luxuries that she cannot afford, so she constantly tries to get money from the men in her life. She also tries to latch onto Andrei's pal Roman, but she gets very annoyed after she begins a sexual relationship with him and quickly discovers that he has also had a fling with Masha. Fyodor, the mailroom clerk at Zimaletto, also isn't pleased to learn of Masha's flirtation with Roman, because he has had his eye on the receptionist for quite a while.
Vika is also in cahoots with Andrei's enemy, her best friend Kira's brother, Aleksandr. At one point Aleksandr forces himself on Vika, but she doesn't tell Roman or anyone else about it. Soon after this she finds herself having a pregnancy scare and tries to use the situation to force Roman (or even Aleksandr) into a commitment, but she soon learns that she is indeed not pregnant. Tatiana soon discovers the truth and shares the information with her office pals, none of whom can stand Vika, and they all have a little fun with their pretentious nemesis. Eventually, Roman and Aleksandr find out that neither one is going to be a daddy in the near future and they both cut Vika out of their personal lives.
Andrei begins to depend on Katya more and more. They bond further on one peculiar occasion when Andrei, having lost a bet with Milko, is forced to go out to a gay bar in drag. As Andrei tries to leave the bar he finds that he can't get his car out of the bar's driveway because it's blocked in. He calls the one person he can count on, Katya, and she soon shows up in a taxi and brings him to her home so that he can change into some of her father's clothing before he heads home to see Kira, who has been waiting for him.
Before an important board meeting, at which Andrei is going to give a presentation detailing his business plan, Aleksandr tries to prevent Andrei's success by having various employees who are under his influence (Vika among them) sabotage the document that Katya is working on. Ultimately, Katya works all night and, with a little help from her friends, she is able to deliver the document in the nick of time, saving the day for her boss. Andrei is so relieved that he even asks Katya to deliver the presentation at the meeting.
Wishing to follow through on his promise to double the company's capital in a short span of time, but lacking the necessary experience to do it, Andrei undertakes projects that leave Zimaletto deeper in debt. When the banks threaten to seize the company, Andrei and Roman devise a plan; Andrei asks Katya to create a dummy corporation that would appear to seize Zimaletto, but will in fact leave it in Andrei's control, though it would technically be under Katya's legal ownership. Katya is aware of the illegality of such an undertaking, but she is so moved by Andrei's need for her help that she decides to take the chance. Together they create a puppet company called niKamoda.
Andrei and Roman learn that Katya has a close relationship with someone named Nikolai, who is actually just a friend of Katya's since the two were children. The two Zimaletto executives fear that Katya might be influenced by Nikolai to take full control of niKamoda and shut them out, effectively taking over the company. In order to avoid such an outcome, Roman suggests to Andrei that it's imperative for him to seduce Katya, in order for him to keep her in his thrall. Having noticed that the ugly assistant is clearly besotted with her bellicose boss, Roman convinces Andrei that it wouldn't take much effort for him to get Katya to forget all about this Nikolai Zorkin person.
Andrei reluctantly succumbs to Roman's coersion and agrees to tell Katya that although he has been fighting his feelings, he is in love with her. Of course, this declaration is far the truth. Even though there are qualities that Andrei admires about Katya, he is physically repulsed by her. Even though Katya wonders how a man like Andrei could have feelings for her, she is blinded by love, so the two start dating secretly. Katya starts telling her friends that Nikolai is her boyfriend, so they won't be suspicious about her relationship with Andrei. Katya soon decides to make herself more attractive for Andrei, as well as to make a better impression as a serious business woman, so she goes for a makeover, but the results fall far short of making her look like anything but a circus clown.
Fearing that Katya is still "involved" with Nikolai, Roman coerces Andrei into making love with Katya. After drinking a lot of alcohol, Andrei goes through with it and is surprised to discover that he actually has cultivated real feelings for Katya. He also comes to realize that his love for Kira has just been an illusion. Because of this, Andrei promises Katya that he will end his engagement to Kira very soon, conscious the fact that he will not really be able to do it, even though it's exactly what he truly wants to do.
Before departing from Moscow on a business trip, Roman leaves a long letter in which he lists detailed instructions that his esteemed president should follow in order to keep Katya in love. Roman's letter also serves to remind Andrei of their motives, to inspire him to keep the plan in motion. Roman tries to cheer Andrei up by telling him that the charade will end as soon as Katya doctors the balance sheet for the next Board Meeting, which will conceal the seizure of Zimaletto by niKamoda. Of course, the letter is unnecessary, because by this time Andrei already loves Katya and doesn't need to be forced to keep wooing her.
Unfortunately, Katya discovers Roman's letter accidentally and is devastated. She mistakenly believes that Andrei has been conning her throughout their entire relationship, not knowing that in his heart the con had ended a long time before. After mourning the loss of the love she shared with Andrei, Katya seems to lose her sense of joy and her enthusiasm for life. To keep Andrei from suspecting that she knows about his deceit, she pretends that she still loves him, even though she doesn't do a very good acting job and it is immediately obvious to Andrei that something is wrong. Roman asks Andrei if he's jealous of Nikolai, but instead of admitting that he actually is jealous, Andrei hides his true feelings by making his friend think that his only concern is to prevent Nikolai from stealing his company from him. Katya overhears this and Andrei's words seem to confirm all of the things that she had read in the letter. She has no idea that Andrei just can't admit to Roman, or even to himself, that he really loves her. As an act of revenge, Katya conspires with Nikolai to make it look like they are indeed dating and that they might be siphoning money from niKamoda to buy expensive things, like a car. Katya also decides not to disguise the balance sheet that Andrei is supposed to present at the upcoming Board Meeting.
When Milko's assistant Olga becomes ill, Katya and her Zimaletto friends rush to her side. Outside Olga's home, Andrei, who is consumed by jealousy, gets into a violent tussle with Nikolai. Katya is appalled by Andrei's behavior and she slaps his face, shocking everyone present.
Yuliana Vinogradova, a business associate of Zimaletto, discovers the truth about Katya and Andrei's affair, so she suggests to Katya that she should quit her job and work for her, which Katya agrees to do right after the Board Meeting. Katya briefly succumbs to Andrei's supplications and considers disguising the balance sheets, but she changes her mind when she overhears a conversation between Andrei and Roman in which they discuss where they will send her after the meeting (to protect her, although she does not know this), so she presents the real balance sheet to the stockholders.
Pavel expresses his disappointment in the way that Andrei has handled the family enterprise. Katya presents her letter of resignation and retrieves her belongings from her "office" and prepares to leave, but is stopped by Kira, who insists on seeing what is inside Katya's garbage bag. Katya doesn't want Kira to see the evidence of her affair with Andrei, but she is forced to do so after Kira threatens to call security. After seeing all of the cards and trinkets, Kira confronts Andrei regarding his infidelity and the schemes that he and Roman had gotten involved in.
Katya becomes Yuliana's assistant and goes to Egypt with her to organize a beauty pageant. Andrei is desperate to find her, but in deference to their daughter's wishes, Katya's parents refuse to tell anyone where Katya has gone. Katya is soon distracted by the attentions of a man named Misha, who seems to be attracted to the beautiful person that she is inside. Yuliana decides to treat Katya to a makeover and she ends up being completely transformed.
Back in Moscow, there is trouble at Zimaletto because technically everything is still in Katya's name. They desperately need to find her so they can officially transfer ownership and then work towards resolving the company's financial woes. Eventually, Katya gets word of what is going on back at home, so she reluctantly agrees to return, in order to straighten things out. She signs a power of attorney that allows Aleksandr to run the company, as long as Aleksandr honors some of Katya's specific requests, particularly to protect the company and to ensure that Aleksandr doesn't fire employees capriciously. After a while, Andrei learns from Yaroslav Vetrov, whom Aleksandr has reinstated as the company's Chief Financial Officer, that Aleksandr has been sabotaging the company, so Andrei compiles evidence and presents it to his father.
When Katya returns to Zimaletto, everyone is completely mesmerized by how much she has changed. At a board meeting, Pavel decides that, because of Katya's business abilities, she should run Zimaletto until the company is stable once again. Feeling partial responsibility for the company's current state, she decides to do all she can to fix things as quickly as possible, so she can finally be finished with Zimaletto, for once and for all. Katya's enemies are mortified by Pavel's proposal, but they reluctantly agree with his decision. The situation is complicated by more misunderstandings and Katya's jealousy of Nadezhda, a business associate from Kiev who is clearly interested in Andrei. Jealousy is also inflamed in Andrei's heart when he observes Katya's interactions with Misha, particularly after Misha asks Katya to go to St. Petersburg to work with him at his new restaurant.
Andrei reads Katya's diary and realizes how deeply he has hurt her, so he decides to give up any hopes of getting her back and he leaves her to find happiness without him. Eventually, after working side by side and seeing how much pain Andrei is in, and after learning from Kira how distraught Andrei was while she was away, Katya comes to realize that he really does love her. They work through all of their misunderstandings and she ends up forgiving him for his past transgressions. The two get married and soon discover that they are expecting a baby. After their daughter Liza is born, the happy couple's friends and family all gather at the baby's crib to see the new arrival. The looks on people's faces seem to imply that the infant is quite ugly, but the beaming smiles of the proud parents and grandparents make it quite clear that they are all looking down upon the most precious baby in the entire world.
- Irina Muravyova, who played Katya's mother Yelena, is an acclaimed actress who starred as Lyudmila in Москва Слезам Не Верит (Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1980.
- Nelli Uvarova (Katya) grew up in Tbilisi*, the capital city of Georgia, which is the setting of the Georgian adaptation of "Ugly Betty", "Gogona Gareubnidan".
* Some sources claim that she was born in Mazeikiai, Lithuania.
- Nelli Uvarova's sister, Elena, worked in the production's costume department.
- Grigori Antipenko (Andrei) and Yulia Takshina (Vika) became a real-life couple. The two later had two sons, Ivan (nicknamed Vanya or Vanechka) and Fyodor, but still have not married. At right is a photo of the couple from a Russian-language edition of Hello.
- Nelli Uvarova (Katya) and occasional "Ne Rodis Krasivoy" director Sergei Vladomirovich Pikalov got married in October 2005. At the time of their wedding, Uvarova was still not allowed to be seen in public without her character's glasses and braces, so even while wearing her wedding dress she had to keep her head covered whenever she was outside. Pikalov went on to be one of the producers of "Lyubovne to, chto kazhetsya" (LoveNot What it Seems), which was the Russian adaptation of Mexico's "El Amor no es como lo pintan". While filming "Lyubovne to, chto kazhetsya", Pikalov got a 25-year-old costume department staffer pregnant, which caused the break-up of his marriage to Uvarova in 2009.
- After "Ne Rodis Krasivoy" became successful, Nelli Uvarova's pay was increased five-fold, from $600 to $3000 per month (I hope that these figures are worth a lot more than U.S. dollars, because that is not much).
- In 2006, the rights to the show's fictional brand name Zimaletto were purchased by a company called Sela, so they could produce a real-world Zimaletto fashion line.
- Unlike in most of the other adaptations of "Yo soy Betty, la fea", the producers of NRK tried to avoid blatant product placement. For example, the logos on characters' cars (Andrei's Porsche, Vika's Mercedes, Katya's Infinity) were masked with black pieces of cardboard.
- The opening theme, "Esli v Serdtse Zhivet Lyubov" (If Love Lives in Your Heart) became a popular hit. The song was performed by Yulia Savicheva, who made a guest appearance as herself in one episode. The song was written especially for the show and the lyrics were a kind of anthem dedicated to the black sheep who doesn't fit into a conventional role in society. The purpose of the song was to celebrate those who are not afraid to stand out and who are proud of their individuality. Within a week after the first episode premiered, the theme song was being played on hundreds of radio stations throughout Russia and other neighboring countries.
- On July 28, 2006, AMEDIA and Sony Pictures Television International released a soundtrack CD that featured "Vizhu tebya" (I see you) by Alena Vysotskoya, two songs by Yulia Savicheva, "Esli v Serdtse Zhivet Lyubov" and "Kak tvoi dela" (How you are), various instrumental compositions heard throughout the series, and a few snippets of funny dialogue and characters' catchphrases.
- Among the roster of guest stars were: Anastasia Volochkova (former Mariinsky and Bolshoi ballerina), Andrei Grigoriev-Apollonov (lead singer of Ivanushki International), Alina Kabaeva (Olympic gymnast), Tina Kandelaki (journalist, TV presenter), Tatyana Lazareva (comedienne, TV presenter), Alexander Adolfovich Malis (telecom mogul), Oksana Fyodorova (model, Miss St. Petersburg-1999, Miss Russia-2001, Miss Universe-2002), Valery Zolotukhin (veteran actor), Aleksandr Panayotov (singer), and Dima Nikolaevich Bilan (singer).
- In the January 28, 2006 episode (#76), Katya convinces Nikolai to spruce up his wardrobe, so the two go to Nexus, a real-life retail chain with five locations in the Moscow area.
- Olga Levitina, who played a waitress named Vasilisa Kuznetsova, was the real-life daughter of Olga Ostroumova (Margarita Zhdanova).
- After filming for the final episode wrapped, a celebratory festival was held on July 25, 2006. Twenty fans, all members of the show's official online forum, were selected to attend and to meet the cast and crew.
- A 100-minute documentary entitled "Оставайся сама собой!" (Remain Yourself!), released in September 2006, was a behind-the-scenes chronicle that revealed interesting facts about development of the series, from initial casting right up to the finale.
- In 2010, Grigori Antipenko (Andrei) dubbed the voice for the lead character in Disney's Tangled into Russian. The character, Flynn Rider, was originally voiced by Zachary Levi. In Russia, the film's title was Рапунцелъ (Rapunzel).
- Although rumors of a sequel have been floating around since before "Ne Rodis Krasivoy" even ended, as of late 2010 a follow-up series has still not come to fruition, but Nelli Uvarova (Katya) and Grigori Antipenko (Andrei) were reunited in the 2009 romantic comedy М+Ж [Note: the title refers to the Cyrillic alphabet's initials for Male and Female; an alternate title was Love Journal]. The film told a story that should sound familiar to fans of "Ne Rodis Krasivoy": Sweet shy girl falls for hardened womanizer.
- In December 2006, after "Ne Rodis Krasivoy" ended, many episodes of an online animated parody called "UmaNetto" were created, featuring the adventures of Vika, Roman, Andrei, Kira, Milko, and Katya (below). None of the original cast members voiced the animated characters, but new versions of the theme and background music were used. Many of these tales featured wacky animals and typical cartoon scenarios.