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Golden run for Bollywood movies continues in China

Irrfan Khan’s movie Hindi Medium has grossed more than Rs 165 crore (more than $26 million) in China, a new and lucrative box office frontier for Indian movies.

world Updated: Apr 13, 2018 16:28 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Indian movies in China,China box office,Hindi Medium
Irrfan Khan plays a middle-class parent in Hindi Medium, with his character struggling to find a good a “English medium” school for his daughter.

Bollywood movies have had a golden run in China over the past year – easily making it the best one for Indian films in this country.

The surprise boom began with Aamir Khan’s Dangal last May and continues a year later with Irrfan Khan’s Hindi Medium – a boom that no box office pundit or film critic had predicted or projected as a possibility even a year ago.

Irrfan‘s movie has grossed more than Rs 165 crore (more than $26 million) here till Friday noon.

After Dangal, three films – Secret Superstar, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Hindi Medium – have done well in China, which is now a new and lucrative box office frontier for Indian movies.

According to Chinese state media, the Indian movies have contributed to China’s booming box office – the second largest in the world after the US - in the first months of 2018.

“Indian movie Secret Superstar topped the imported movies at the Chinese box office with 746 million yuan ($118 million ). However, it didn't achieve the success of a predecessor, Dangal, which took 1.29 billion yuan ($200 million ) in 2017,” a state media report said.

The Bollywood productions not only took on high-profile Chinese movies but also Hollywood blockbusters, beating them more often than not.

Besides making pots of money – often more than what the movies made in India – these four mainstream Bollywood movies garnered much goodwill among urban audiences in China. Only two featured Aamir, who is well known to Chinese film-going audiences.

The secret recipe - a relevant social message told with the right blend of reality, empathy and humour. And, of course, good, solid subtitles in local languages that capture the essence of the story.

“The stories in the Indian films are like the stories in China, stories the Chinese relate to. The Chinese audience could identify with them,” said Tan Zheng , editor of Diangying Yishu (Film Art) magazine.

The Chinese audience must have identified with, say, the young singer in Secret Superstar to have made the movie a hit despite the sustained anti-India rhetoric that preceded the film’s release during the Doklam standoff last year.

For Hindi Medium, the satire on the education system clicked – as it had for Three Idiots in 2011.

“Many Chinese parents of primary school children, especially those living in first-tier cities, quickly relate to the anxious parents in the movie who run into a lot of barriers and embarrassing situations while choosing schools for their girl,” the Global Times newspaper quoted a user writing on social media.

“I think Hindi Medium is great as it tries to tackle social issues in a humorous way. I always learn a little bit about their culture from Indian films,” wrote Sina Weibo user Anan's Big Dream.

First Published: Apr 13, 2018 16:28 IST