How popular is Aamir Khan in China

[* The title refers to the old political tradition of the Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai - "India and China are brothers". This tradition ended with the 1962 Sino-Indo-China Border War, in which China defeated India. Due to the opening of the markets, the former friends are now getting closer again.]

Bollywood cinema, India's mainstream cinema, produced in Bombay in Hindi, influences and mirrors Indian society in equal measure. The films, which are knitted according to the classic "masala formula" of romance, action, six songs and a happy ending, that is, the classic Indian films, are primarily aimed at the huge Indian audience. Around 1.2 billion people live in the country alone, plus many Indian exiles all over the world. A market of this size is rarely found.

Some facts: Bollywood produces most of the films in the world. In 2017, 1,986 feature films were made in India. France, for example, produced only 177 films in the same period and Great Britain only 130 (apart from co-productions with Hollywood) - not even a tenth of the Indian production. India is also the only country in which films are made in 43 different languages ​​and dialects (as of 2017). B. in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi. And while Hollywood is destroying regional cinema worldwide, it only plays a very minor role in the Indian film market. The films from California have a market share of just under 10% here. And this despite the fact that American cinema has been trying to penetrate the Indian market for 100 years and publishes its expensive productions in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Of course, singing and dancing are the unique selling points of Indian cinema and Bollywood, just like that Martial arts define Hong Kong cinema. There is unbelievable skill in the representation of song and dance: the filmmaker has to be able to write lyrics, compose, choreograph, guide the camera and edit the film. I urge every director to give it a try, a song like "Chhaiya Chhaiya" from the spectacular opening scene by Mani Ratnams Dil Se to stage with the same intensity and expressiveness - with dance ensembles on a moving train.

Bollywood's influence on Indian society has many facets. Many real-world crimes, including robbery, murders, and sexual offenses, are influenced by the films. In the film, the traditional roles of hero and anti-hero are blurred, the good in the story is often the bad at the same time. Some of the movie stars have become criminals in real life, but have continued to be passionately defended by their fans. For some, other standards apply. The actor Salman Khan was almost always acquitted or got away with relatively low sentences, if you look at the allegations against him. B. sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly running his car over five sleeping homeless people in Mumbai in 2002, one of whom died and four were seriously injured; However, Khan only spent 18 days in jail before he was acquitted. In another case, he was sentenced to five years in prison by a Jodhpur court for allegedly killing two endangered antelopes in 1998. In the end, however, he only spent two nights in prison. The public sympathy for this "man boy" is so great that even the law bows. Popular Bollywood star and womanizer Sanjay Dutt, famous for his alcohol, cocaine and heroin addiction, spent five years in prison until 2016 for illegally possessing an AK-56 assault rifle that he allegedly bought from the terrorists involved in the bombing Killed 257 people in Mumbai in 1993. His life is now in Bollywood film Sanju glorified, in which Dutt is embodied by another Bollywood star, Ranbir Kapoor. The film should be released in 2018. At the same time, a number of film stars and screenwriters were made ministers in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, including M. G. Ramachandran ("MGR"), J. Jayalalithaa and Mutuvel Karunanidhi.

Indian films have always stimulated the wishes and hopes of the audience. This has especially been the case lately, as the traditional genres of "indie" and "mainstream" are mixing more and more and a new genre is emerging that I call "Mindie film". These films are mostly cast with Bollywood stars, also contain singing and dancing, but deal with realistic subjects. Because of their realism, it increases the likelihood of a closer connection with their audience. An example of this is the film Kapoor & Sons from 2016, which also contains songs and dance sequences, but deals with the topics of homosexuality and adultery. Or Vikas Bahls Queen, a feminist film about a woman who goes on a honeymoon in Paris on her own. Or also Sanjay Leela Bhansalis Bajirao Mastani, which tells a historical love affair between the married Hindu Peshwa Bajirao-I, who comes from the central Indian Maharashtra, and Mastani, a half-Muslim warrior princess. In addition to the songs and dances, the excellent camera work stands out, but the political courage to tell a secular relationship in times of right-wing nationalism and Indian communalism is also remarkable.

Of course, there is also a long tradition of realistic independent film in Indian cinema. Anurag Kashyaps is one of the recently released Hindi indie films Raman Raghav 2.0 (which also ran at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016), a brutal thriller about a historical serial killer who lived in Mumbai in the 1960s. In Neeraj Ghaywans Masaan (the one under the title Fly Away Solo 2015 in Cannes) young people in rural India break the chains of tradition and the caste system. Chaitanya Tamhanes Court (premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2014) is a massive attack on the caste system and the indolence of the judiciary in which a singer and activist is arrested on ludicrous charges that one of his songs was responsible for the suicide of a sewer worker. Hansal Mehtas Shahid from 2013 deals with the real life of the Muslim lawyer Shahid Azmi, who helped many unjustly imprisoned Muslims regain freedom and was then shot by right-wing extremists.

The liberalization and globalization of the Indian economy, which began in 1991, and the associated labor migration led to large families breaking up and independence being established as a central value. In many cases, this in turn made women more independent. While feminism had a long tradition in independent film, this new development encouraged more women directors to film scripts with strong female roles. In many of these films, women no longer act as a romantic counterpart to the main actor. They pursue their own lives, their own careers and follow their desires. These talented filmmakers include Farah Khan (Om Shanti Om, 2007), Zoya Akhtar (Luck by Chance, 2009), Nandita Das (Firaaq, 2008), Konkona Sen Sharma (A Death in the Gunj, 2016), Anjali Menon (Lucky Red Seeds, 2012) as well as Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar (So Be It, 2015).

Bollywood is undoubtedly also a means of gentle diplomacy, which helps to improve India's image in the world, from the Gulf of Suez to Singapore, in Germany, Egypt, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, from Russia to China and even in officially hostile countries States like Pakistan.

Speaking of India and China: With 1.3 and 1.4 billion people respectively, these two neighboring countries comprise two of the largest markets in the world. India's relationship with China is characterized by constant ups and downs and the changing political realities have always been reflected in Indian cinema. In the early 20th century, especially in the 1930s, India and China had a lot of empathy for each other's struggle for independence against the colonial powers. In the 1950s, the idea of ​​"Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai" (India and China are brothers) became very popular in India. One of the first major Indian films to deal with China is V. Shantarams Dr. Kotnis ki Amar Kahani (The Immortal Story of Dr. Kotnis, 1946), based on the true story of Doctor Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis, who answered the call of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and went to China in 1938 to support the resistance against the Japanese invaders. He married a Chinese nurse, Guo Quinglan, and died of an epileptic fit in the field in 1942. In China, the memory of him is honored because of his sacrifice.

A little later, Bimal Roy led the film Pehla Aadmi (First man, 1950) directed by Subhash Chandra Bose. Bose rejected the nonviolent path taken by the Indian National Congress and traced back to Mahatma Gandhi to independence from the British Empire. He formed the Indian National Army (INA) in Singapore, led it from 1942–1945 and collaborated with the Japanese to liberate India from British colonialism by force of arms. Mrinal Sen also made the film Neel Akasher Neechey (Under the blue sky, 1959). It tells the story of a respectable Chinese who sells silk in Calcutta, supports India's struggle for independence and later returns home to join the Chinese resistance against Japan. The growing border conflict between India and China eventually led to the Indo-Chinese border war of 1962, in which India was defeated by China. Neel Akasher Neechey was banned for a short time due to its China-friendliness. The Bollywood film Haqeeqat (Reality, 1964) by Chetan Anand, however, was supported by the Indian government; he portrayed China as a rogue state and praised the courageous Indian soldiers who opposed their neighbors.

In the 21st century, the need to open markets has led to a tentative return of the Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai guided. China imported only 34 international films in 2012. Hollywood, Bollywood and others are eager to enter the notoriously regulated market. In a Hollywood-Bollywood coproduction, Warner Bros. created Nikkhil Advanis in 2009 Chandni Chowk to China. The film is an action comedy set in both countries and about a bad Indian cook who is mistaken for the reincarnation of a Chinese warrior. Kabir Khans Tubelight from 2017, starring Salman Khan and the Chinese actress Zhu Zhu, was a further step to improve the Indo-Chinese friendship: During the Indo-Chinese border war, the protagonist defends the Chinese population against Indian nationalists. AR Murugadoss also directed 7aum Arivu (Seventh Sense) from 2011, a Tamil version of the legend of Bodhidharma: An Indian Buddhist monk travels to China and founded the Zen movement of Mahayana Buddhism there in the 6th century. Aamir Khan Dangal tells the story of a strict father who drives his daughters to become professional wrestlers: it is estimated that the film had a budget of 900 million rupees and grossed 19.3 billion rupees worldwide, of which 11 billion rupees in 9,000 cinemas in China and a little more than 5 billion rupees in India: so the sales at the Chinese box office were twice that of India. Khans Secret superstar about an Indian-Muslim teenager who wants to become a singer made more money in China than Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

India is feverishly trying to land co-productions with China. Indian-Chinese productions by Bollywood giant Eros International, including Anands, will soon appear Love in Beijing, a multicultural, romantic comedy, and Kabir Khans The zookeeper about an Indian zookeeper traveling to China to find a panda to save his zoo.

Of course, there are also Chinese films that are set in India. These include musicals, some gruesome comedies and various adaptations of The journey to the West, a 16th century book by Wu Cheng’en that tells the story of the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang. The monk traveled to India in the 7th century to translate Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese and to spread Buddhism in China. Among the adaptations is Huo Jianqis Xuanzhang that tells the monk's 17-year journey through India. Also the film Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back by Hong Kong director Tsui Hark. Director Peter Chan, who is also from Hong Kong, is also from Hong Kong Perhaps love (2005) presented a romantic musical in which the choreographies are from Bollywood director Farah Khan. Jackie Chan produced the China-Hong Kong coproduction The Myth (2005) with a cast from Chan himself (Hong Kong), Hee-seon Kim (South Korea), Shao Bing (China) and Mallika Sherawat (India). The complicated plot consists of clichés and contains an insane scene in which a sticky conveyor belt leads to the protagonists being seen almost naked. Director Tong also starred with Jackie Chan Kung Fu Yoga (2017) threw all Chinese and Indian clichés into a blender and then served them with ice cubes and mint. Besides is still Buddies in India (2017) by the Chinese director Wang Baoqiang. Here the worst film traditions of both countries are mixed together. Since the markets are heavily regulated, co-productions offer the opportunity to bypass some restrictions.

(Translation from English: Julian Heidenreich)