Xi and Modi take a break from security summit to talk Bollywood, report says

Chinese president said to have told Indian PM he’s a fan of Dangal, which has seen huge box office success in China

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 June, 2017, 12:34am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 June, 2017, 7:51pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were apparently talking movies, among other things, at a summit in Kazakhstan on Friday.

Xi mentioned that he, like millions of Chinese, had enjoyed the hit Bollywood film Dangal, according to a Press Trust of India report.

The movie – about an Indian man who allows his daughters to defy gender norms, training them to become world-class wrestlers – is known as Let’s Wrestle, Dad in China. It has seen phenomenal success since its release in the country on May 5, reaping more than 1 billion yuan (US$147 million) in box office revenues.

Xi, who has one daughter according to his official biography, reportedly mentioned to Modi that the film starring Aamir Khan was doing well in China while the pair were attending the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Astana.

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That’s according to Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who was also quoted in the report as saying that Xi and Modi went on to discuss boosting cultural cooperation between the two countries.

The SCO is a Beijing-backed security grouping that facilitates counter-terrorism cooperation.

Dangal is still screening across China at more than 7,000 cinemas.

Its success follows a string of other Bollywood films that have won over Chinese audiences in recent years. They include the previous biggest hit, PK, a science fiction comedy released in 2015, which took in 118 million yuan.

The first Bollywood film said to have broken the “great wall” of the Chinese movie market was 3 Idiots, released in 2011, which earned 14 million yuan.

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In Dangal, Khan stars as a former wrestler who hopes to have a son who can fulfil his dream of winning a gold medal for India. But his dream is dashed when his wife gives birth to four daughters. He eventually starts coaching two of the girls in wrestling, subjecting them to harsh training and strict discipline, including keeping their hair short, contravening social norms.

The film is based on the true story of Geeta Phogat, who won India’s first gold medal in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and became the country’s first woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics two years later.

Khan recently said he had hoped the film would be loved in China but never dreamt it would be such a spectacular success.

“I always believe that language is not a barrier when it comes to creative endeavours and its success in China has proved that,” he said.