The ongoing 16th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) is seen as an example of China’s soft power flourish as it is the country’s only A-category movie fest.
But Chinese audiences in turn are getting a chance to experience India’s version of cinematic soft power with as many as 18 Indian movies – the largest number in recent times – being showcased at the festival.
The SIFF platform was ideal for India to screen its movies in the year when Indian cinema is celebrating 100 years. “That was the idea (bring Indian movies here in its 100th year). We got in touch with SIFF and they agreed,” Naveen Srivastava, Consul General of India in Shanghai told HT on phone.
An SIFF delegation also went to participate in the Goa Film Festival and got in touch with Indian directors and producers. The Consulate in Shanghai helped SIFF procure 12 movies and the rest SIFF members arranged for themselves.
The selection is wide ranging from the first Indian movie Raja Harishchandra to a bunch of new movies like Barfi, Jolly LLB and Murder 3: it’s mostly popular fare that is on offer.
“Mostly Indian documentaries and off-beat movies have been shown at the festival before. This time, it’s more mainstream fare,” Srivastava said. Also on offer are Kamal Hassan’s classic, the silent ‘Pushpak’, Wake Up Sid, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!
Telugu movie Eaga and a Bengali one Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbona are being screened too. But with three films, -- Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai and 3 Iditots -- it’s Aamir Khan who is hogging the screen light here.
“In fact, some Weibo (China’s hugely popular Twitter-like online platforms) users are asking why there is no Shah Rukh Khan movie,” Srivastava said. Members from the audience posed questions on the prospects of cooperation between Indian & Chinese movie industry during the Q&A session after the inauguration.
Some in the audience, according to a statement from the Indian Consulate, also talked of films like Caravan and Noori, which were popular hits in China.
Many Indians have had the experience of taxi drivers and sundry strangers happily singing songs from Awara to them. The elderly Chinese fans of the movie need not be disappointed; it is being screened too.