8 Indian films at Shanghai festival as Drishyam’s Chinese remake top box office

Coming in the backdrop of the border tension between the two countries – the worst in decades involving fatalities on both sides – it is difficult to predict how the films will be received at this year’s SIFF but Chinese film critics and historians say that it’s good sign even if the political and diplomatic situation is far from normal.
By Sutirtho Patranobis | Hindustan Times, Beijing
UPDATED ON JUL 23, 2020 10:42 PM IST
Film maker Prakash Jha’s ‘Pareekasha’ is among the eight Indian movies that will be screened at Shanghai International Film Festival this year.(HT File)

Eight Indian movies including the two Bollywood Hindi hits “Article 15” and “Section 375” will be screened at the Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) starting Saturday.

At least four of the movies including two directed by acclaimed directors Gautam Ghosh and Prakash Jha will be part of the “India film week”, during the SIFF.

Coming in the backdrop of the border tension between the two countries – the worst in decades involving fatalities on both sides – it is difficult to predict how the films will be received at this year’s SIFF but Chinese film critics and historians say that it’s good sign even if the political and diplomatic situation is far from normal.

Interestingly, the Chinese remake of Indian thriller “Drishyam” – which has been promoted by Chinese media as “Sheep without a Shepherd” is leading the current box office in the country following the calibrated reopening of theatres on Monday in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Re-released this Monday – it was released in December but screenings stopped after the Coronavirus outbreak spread in January – the movie has “…made 3 million yuan ($430,095) since Chinese mainland theatres reopened on Monday, despite competition from Hollywood hits such as Coco and China’s Wolf Warrior 2,” said a state media report.

“Chinese audiences do not connect politics and cultural consumption directly,” Li Daoxin film scholar from the Arts faculty at the Peking University, said.

Talking about the Indian films to be screened at SIFF and the expected audience reaction, Li said: “The new Indian films that Chinese audiences see are very good and they like them very much.”

Film critic and editor-in-chief of Diangying Yishu (Film Art), Tan Zheng, talked about the popularity of the remake “Sheep Without a Shepherd”.

“I am not sure if everyone in the audience knows this (that is a remake of an Indian film) but I think a lot of them do because it has been reported by the media. And, the regular movie-lovers know it,” Tan Zheng said.

On the SIFF screenings, Tan said: “Cultural exchanges are conducive to the development of bilateral ties”.

In January, just days before theatres shut down because of the outbreak, the official news agency, Xinhua had reported about the box office of “Sheep without a Shepherd”.

“The Chinese mainland box office sales of thriller film “Sheep Without a Shepherd” shot past 1 billion yuan (about 144 million U.S. dollars)…” a Xinhua report said, adding: “A remake of Indian thriller ‘Drishyam’ the film tells of a man trying to cover up his daughter’s killing of a police officer’s son”.

At SIFF, besides Ghosh’s “Raahgir” and Jha’s “Pareeksha”, two other movies to be screened are Arati Kadav’s “Cargo”, a rare sci-fi movie from India, and a Bangladesh-India joint production “Debris of Despair”, by Indian director Indranil Roychowhdury, who had earlier directed the critically acclaimed “Phoring”.

The two others to be shown are Pratik Thakare-directed Annual Day and Gitanjali Rao-helmed “hand-painted animation movie “Bombay Rose”.

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