Here's how Aamir Khan is making China fall for Bollywood
During the two hours session, Aamir Khan shared his experience as an actor, director and producer. He was quiet and humble, unlike the image he portrays on screen
On Christmas Day in Beijing, Indian movie star Aamir Khan attended a session themed "Swim against the waves" at the Four Seasons Hotel at the invitation of Zhihu- the Chinese version of Qurea. During the two hours session, Khan shared his experience as an actor, director and producer. He was quiet and humble, unlike the image he portrays on screen. Despite a little exhaustion after attending a day's events, he still patiently answered questions from the audience and moderators and actively interacted with his fans.
This is not the first time the Bollywood Khan has come to Beijing. Each time he comes to China, it causes great concern to Chinese fans and young people. In the eyes of many Chinese, Khan's reputation has overshadowed big various Indian leaders in some ways. People first discovered him through his movie "Three Idiots". Interesting plots and profound themes made the film widely watched by the Chinese audience on the internet, even though the movie was not introduced into Chinese cinema by the government until 2011.
However, the film had garnered buzz on social media, especially among the youth. The Douban movie (Chinese version of Rotten Tomatoes) gave a 9.2/10 points of praise, while other Indian movies of Aamir Khan, such as "PK", 'Dangal" and 'Dhoom 3" aroused widespread attention in the Chinese market and the masses. A number of Khan's earlier movies such as "Ghajini", "Rang De Basanti" and "Taare Zameen Par" had all scored high on Douban. Moreover, his television program 'Satyamev Jayate' was also recommended by the youth, so much so that those who liked his movies and TV show called him 'the uncle Aamir'.
In the eyes of Chinese netizens and audience, such comedy movies reflect and satirise social reality, and therefore, gain widespread popularity. In addition to Khan's films, 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' has been highly praised and welcomed by Chinese netizens. What is more intuitive to reflect this reality is that the movie "Secret Superstar" won a box office score of 770 million Yuan (7.8 billion Rupees) in China, not only entering the top ten of China's imported movies list, but also far beyond the Indian box office results of this movie (Rs 520 crore).
It should be known that Secret Superstar was introduced into the Chinese market six months after its release in India. It is no wonder that some fans believe that Aamir Khan has pushed Indian films to the world, although the actor says "I have not brought Indian films to the world, but Chinese fans have discovered me."
Despite high box office collections, Chinese netizens are concerned about the stories told in Indian films. They have found that Indian movies are no longer a strange song-and-dance and lengthy love stories but have richer themes and a deeper meaning. Both China and India are developing countries that have progressed rapidly in the late 20th century. Both governments want to make their respective countries more prosperous and independent, and the people of the two countries, especially the younger generation (born after the 80s and 90s), also hope to get better living conditions, environment, education, parenting, work, and dreams. These words are the key issues that linger in the hearts of young people and the source of pressure on young people's work and life.
In a humorous way, Indian films reflect these problems with interesting stories, and thereby successfully gain recognition and find resonance in the hearts of Chinese audiences, who are thousands of miles away from the birthplace of these movies and live in a completely different society. Before 2012, not more than one Indian film was introduced into Chinese cinema every year, and by 2018, almost every month, Chinese audience are treated with Indian movies. The box office and word-of-mouth of these Indian films are pretty good, and behind this lies the curiosity and interest of the Chinese youth in India. They are dissatisfied with just getting to know about India from history books and Tagore's poems, and crave to see a more realistic and fuller image of India. In this context, Aamir Khan and his Indian films set up a window in China, through which Chinese audience found a way to understand India. It is conducive to building a good public opinion foundation for Sino-Indian communication and cooperation. Both China and India are developing countries. The two countries are facing the same international environment and domestic development issues. These issues are not only the grand propositions for the two countries' leadership to think about, but also affect the lives and work of the Chinese and Indian people.
As Khan said "I am just an actor, I am concerned about good stories, and other things are more embellished," it is in these good stories that encourage Chinese people to discover India and learn about India, singing, dancing, and laughing together with young people in India on the banks of the Ganges with goodwill and friendship across the Himalayas. On the eve of Christmas, Aamir Khan in red looked like an Indian Santa Claus, and gave his Chinese fans a good movie and friendship. I hope that there will be more Indian movie stars coming to China to promote their films and establish friendship with Chinese people. (Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor are also my favorite Indian stars, I really hope to see them in China).
The movie is a window to see a different view, let us see if Khan's Indian film is a Christmas gift for the Chinese audience. Does the curiosity and goodwill accumulated by outstanding Indian films qualify as a gift from Chinese fans to India?
(The author of this article is an Assistant Researcher in China Institute for International Studies (CIIS), a think tank in Beijing)
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