Aamir Khan's Dangal a super hit in China as well
Dangal released across 9,000 screens in China.
Aamir Khan is fast on his way to becoming a superstar in, of all places, China.
His latest offering, Dangal, which collected over Rs 300 crores in India, is setting a record of sorts in Beijing as well. Dangal opened on May 5; twenty-four hours later it had grossed over Rs 20 crores. The reviews have been rave, too.
Aamir's earlier movie PK had collected Rs 5.7 crores on the opening day in China. That is roughly one-fourth of the present collection, but PK went on to gross over Rs 100 crores. Dangal, according to trade pundits, should do better.
The publicity campaign for the movie was carefully engineered. Aamir and his team spent a week in China in April promoting the film. They travelled to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, holding events in the middle of milling audiences. The film opened to 7000 screens. By comparison PK had been screened only in 3000 screens.
On China's most popular cinema portals, Dangal has been uniformly applauded. On social media app WeChat, the movie enjoys the highest rating among films currently being shown in China with a 9.8 score out of 10.
There is a threat though from China's protective cinema operator, Wanda. Wanda believes Dangal will hurt the interests of the local movies. Wanda cinemas have a near monopoly in the smaller cities and towns of China. Wanda says its will cut down Dangal screenings to less than 50 in the interior China. This will affect the movie's collective earnings, but the big cities would have done the good deed for Aamir.
Despite Wanda's lack of interest in the film, a number of Chinese celebrities have come out to promote the film. The actor Deng Chao posted a message on the Chinese Twitter-equivalent, Sina Weibo, telling fans to watch it, while actress Liu Yifei promoted the film along with Aamir Khan during his visit.
"I give full marks to Dangal," wrote another fan. "I was touched that I cried so much and when I ran out of tissue, I borrowed two pieces of it from a stranger beside me, I am going to watch it again and again."
Of late there has been a upsurge in the popularity of Indian mythological dramas and other TV serials from India despite the fact Indo-China relations are in a downward spiral.
The TV dramas Naagin, Devon Ke Dev Mahadev, the 2013 series Mahabharat, and Buddhaa-Rajaon Ka Raja have all been subtitled into Chinese and viewed by hundreds of thousands of people online. On one of China's widely used video-sharing websites, Bilibili, the first four episodes of Naagin's second season had 1.8 lakh views.
Viewers have created subtitles by translating them from available English or and sometimes Russian subtitles.
One of the first such volunteer subtitle groups run by fans was started last year by Yang Buhui, 29, who works in the gaming industry.
"Indian mythology is just fascinating. Its philosophy and worldview, which are exotic, have been a new world to me," Yang said.
Yang said she started her subtitling group because of her love for the show Devon Ke Dev Mahadev. "I love the drama because it's a key to the world of Indian mythology," she said. "Besides, the actors and actresses are not only gorgeous, but also their acting skills are good."
Given the wide patronage of Buddhism in China, another drama that has attracted great following is Buddhaa-Rajaon Ka Raja. "Both China and India are among the greatest ancient civilizations in the world," a viewer said. "However, compared to what they know about the countries from the West or other Asian countries such as Japan, what many Chinese know about India is still limited to textbooks. I hope more Indian films and dramas will reach us in the future."