Hindi film power

By Satarupa Bhattacharjya ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-08-28 07:14:09

Hindi film power

Awara was a mega hit in China. The Mandarin version of its title soundtrack is still popular with older Chinese. Photos Provided to China Daly

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Bollywood is pushing against Hollywood for a bigger share of the foreign-film market in China, Satarupa Bhattacharjya reports.

Indian ambassador Ashok K. Kantha says that his Chinese friends are all able to sing the songs of Awara (1951), or "The Tramp", a Hindi film.

Kantha was speaking last week to guests gathered at a Beijing auditorium for the opening of a just-ended Indian film festival.

Awara, set against the backdrop of an Indian society rife with inequities, tells the story of a young man who is estranged from his seemingly righteous father. It was a mega hit in China and the Mandarin version of its title soundtrack Awara Hoon (I am a tramp) is still popular with older Chinese.

Awara, also a colossal success in the former Soviet Union, came to China at a time when people had little access to foreign films and the local industry was still forming.

"The film's content and the destinies of the main characters resonated in China," says Wang Yiwen, a professor from the School of Art and Communication at Beijing Normal University.

Wang, who watched the film in the '70s as a teenager, says that Awara was twice screened in Chinese theaters - once before the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) and once after it had ended. Foreign films were banned in China for most of the "cultural revolution".

No other production from Bollywood, as the Hindi film industry is popularly known, has been able to achieve the glory of Awara in China.

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