Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - From Bollywood to Beijing: Film Exchange and Sino-Indian Cultural Diplomacy

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Tamarind, New Building

In early summer 2017 Aamir Khan’s film Dangal became the highest grossing non-Hollywood foreign film in China, a success grounded in the immense popularity of his films 3 Idiots and PK among Chinese youth. While media reports have highlighted the unprecedented commercial success of a Hindi film in China, Sino-Indian film exchange has a long history. Most people of a certain age have fond memories of Raj Kapoor’s Awara, first introduced in China as part of an “Indian Film Week” in 1955 and then re-released at the end of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s. Aamir Khan’s publicity tours to China in the 21st century bear an uncanny resemblance to the visits by members of the Indian People’s Theater Association in the 1950s, as they were carried out in the context of state-level meetings of high government officials and a general push for increased Sino-Indian cooperation. This presentation examines both Chinese state-run media reports of the film exchanges and memoirs and internet fan writing to compare and contrast the ways Indian film has been made use of by Chinese citizens in the past half-century. The enduring popularity of Hindi film in China shows that, despite continued tensions in relations between the two nations and vast changes in the political and economic situations in the different time periods, filmmakers in India still find in China audiences hungry for films that show similar experiences of negotiating life in an increasingly industrialized and modernized world with Asia at the center.

Krista Van Fleit

University of South Carolina, United States

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