Global Times special correspondent in India: Yuanji Rong; Global Times special correspondents: Yu Tong, Han Lin
In the upcoming war of movies during the Spring Festival, nothing matches “Kung Fu Yoga” and “Buddies in India”, the two movies that carry a thick flavour of India. Why these two New Year’s Day comedy films have taken Indian backdrops? Behind it is an epitome of strengthening cooperation in the film industry between China and India. During the past two years, there have been more and more movies in which China and India “shoot each other”. “Xuanzang”, which was mainland China’s Oscars entry last year in the foreign language category, was the result of in-depth capturing of scenes from the hinterlands of India by the Chinese film crew. The lead Star Huang Xiaoming was also granted an interview by the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee because of this. And then the Bollywood crew led by famous Indian directors entered China to shoot *“Love in Beijing” and *“The Zoo Keeper”. These two co-production films will soon be screened in China and India.
According to the understanding of this Global Times reporter, “Kung Fu Yoga”, “Buddies in India” and “Xuanzang” are expected to be released in India. The Hindustan Times reported that Xuan Zang’s experience in India was included in Indian textbooks and is very popular, and the film “Xuanzang” was also equally looked forward to in India. Indian Express says Jackie Chan is a favourite Chinese star of the Indian people. During the shooting of “Kung Fu Yoga”, Mumbai was crowded with Jackie Chan fans carrying flowers. In the pictures published by the Indian media, a large number of local police were seen guarding Jackie Chan while he was attending the film festival activities.
Compared to the “Indian style” films made by the Chinese, “Love in Beijing” and “The Zoo Keeper” directed by Indian directors may be more easily accepted by the Indian audience. “Love in Beijing” is about a girl from a traditional Indian family falling in love with a Chinese boy and eloping with him to China in order to escape from an arranged marriage. The enraged family of the girl reaches China in search of the “traitors”. “The Zoo Keeper” is about a zoo in a small Indian town which is at the verge of closure because of dull business. In order to attract tourists, the young zookeeper decides to “introduce” a giant panda from China. Supported by top directors and stars, the Indian audience would most likely want to see the contemporary Chinese society outside the martial arts heroes. The Chinese audience will be most curious about how the Indians “excel” in China.
In fact, even before the leaders of the two countries determined to start co-production of films, appreciation and mutual learning already existed between the Chinese and Indian filmmakers. In the 2005 movie “The Myth”, Jackie Chan played an ancient general who travels to India to learn skills from the local people. In 2009, India’s popular actor Akshay Kumar starred in the comedy “Chandni Chowk to China”, which was a hit in India. However, the film’s Chinese image was clearly affected by Hollywood and Hong Kong martial arts films. Akshay Kumar himself had also been to Hong Kong to learn Chinese martial arts. In 2012, an Indian film “Burfi” was well received. The film has a scene in which the hero rides a bicycle to escape from chasing police, from which one can see it pays tribute to Jackie Chan’s “Project A”.
Many Indians believe that their understanding of Chinese films started from Bruce Lee. Many Hollywood Kung Fu movies are thought to be Chinese films in India. Looking from the current box-office appeal of the several Chinese-Indian co-production films, Jackie Chan’s “Kung Fu Yoga” has a more significant market potential in India. A friend of this Global Times correspondent is a college teacher in India, and can be counted as from the local elite. His impressions of Chinese films are all of martial arts films. Under this reporter’s repeated prod he was finally able to remember a non-martial arts film, which was the Hollywood movie “Memoirs of a Geisha.” In fact, this is not surprising. In the Indian film market, local works occupy an absolute dominant position. In the annual Top10, one can rarely see imported films, and even if there are some, they are basically Hollywood movies.
The past two years, the number of Indian films introduced to China has increased, and have also achieved good public acclaim. But owing to their relatively late release, the box office responses were not particularly good. Today, Chinese-Indian co-production films have made the directors much imaginative. “Filming in both languages is an exciting challenge. China and India share a great deal of similarity in art and culture, and I hope to create a movie which unites the spirits of the two nations”, says Kabir Khan, the director of “The Zoo Keeper. While the director of “Love in Beijing” Siddharth Anand said: “I am thrilled to enter the Chinese film market and we are in the work of a good story that will resonate with the audience in both countries”.
*Translator’s note: “Love in Beijing”, “The Zoo Keeper” [These are working titles (English) of the movies as the movies are yet to be released in India].