India, China to create theatre version of Raj Kapoor’s 1951 classic Awaara | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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India, China to create theatre version of Raj Kapoor’s 1951 classic Awaara

art-and-culture Updated: Oct 13, 2016 23:38 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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Awaara was a huge success in China, and its song Awaara Hoon and actor Raj Kapoor became widely known across the nation. The agreement is aimed at recreating the film’s magic. (YouTube screengrab)

Many Indians in China have had the Chinese version of the theme song from Raj Kapoor’s classic 1951 movie Awaara sung to them by nostalgic taxi drivers.

For those greying cabbies, it might soon be time to relive that nostalgia: The governments of the two countries agreed in Shanghai on Wednesday to make a theatrical adaptation of Awaara and stage it in China by the end of next year.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the apex government body on culture, and the China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) to expand ties in the field.

“It may be noted as part of the MoU, both sides will also attempt a joint theatrical reproduction of the popular Indian movie ‘Awaara’ which would be set in contemporary times and re-enacted as a theatrical version for viewing by contemporary audiences worldwide,” said a statement from the Indian consulate in Shanghai.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 18th CSIAF, ICCR director general Amarendra Khatua emphasised the need for cultural exchanges in tier-II and tier-III cities in India and China. Shanghai mayor Yang Xiong also attended the event.

While ICCR will commission an Indian company to come up with the script for the play in a contemporary setting, CSIAF will ask a Chinese production unit to design and enact the musical for production.

Indian and Chinese actors will be selected for the parts. The expenditure will be borne equally by the two organisations. Once the production is ready, performances will be organised in India and China.

Awaara was among seven Indian movies released in China between 1955 and 1961. It was re-released in the late 1970s after the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976.

But the target audience for “Awaara 2.0” will be the post-1990s generation in China and their equally tech-savvy contemporaries in India.

Neither generation knows too much about the movie, which took India’s soft-power on celluloid across borders and brought tears and smiles to millions in inscrutable Communist countries such as the former Soviet Union and China. The movie remains a rare aspect of Sino-India relations that brings a song to the lips instead of a snigger.