Chinese fans crazy about ‘Dangal’ actor Aamir Khan

By Li Jingjing Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/11 18:43:39


Indian actor Aamir Khan (right) pays a visit to Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province on April 20. Photo: IC

Indian actor Aamir Khan caused quite a lot of buzz when he came to China last month to attend the Beijing International Film Festival and promote his latest film Dangal, which is currently the highest earning Indian film in the Chinese mainland.

A heartthrob in his home country, the actor has also earned a huge number of dedicated fans in China.

Social focus

Khan has become a unique figure among the many idols - most of them Hollywood celebrities and South Korean pop stars - that most Chinese fans are crazy about.

First starting out in India as a child actor in 1972, Khan continued to work in front of and behind the big screen as an actor, director and producer over the next few decades to become one of the most influential names in Indian cinema.

However, most people in China got to know Khan through his role in the comedy 3 Idiots (2009), which featured a story about three students who challenged the Indian education system.

"I really related to the story. The problems with the education systems in China and India are very similar," Wang Yang (pseudonym), an avid fan of Khan, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

She first watched 3 Idiots while in high school. After this first taste, she sought out more of Khan's works, which eventually led to him becoming her idol.

"He totally became a god to me after I watched Truth Alone Triumphs," Wang said.

Truth Alone Triumphs is a TV talk show hosted by Khan that has aired on various channels in India since 2012. It mostly touches on sensitive social issues in India such as rape, female foeticide, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, untouchability and corruption in politics.

The show has been positively received by viewers for Khan's efforts to raise awareness about social issues.

"All those issues touched on in his works also exist in China, but no Chinese has ever made that type of film," Wu Qian (pseudonym), a 29-year-old fan of Khan told the Global Times. She added that the problem doesn't just lie with Chinese filmmakers, censorship in China poses obstacles for the creation of this type of work as well.

"Khan's Truth Alone Triumphs was not censored in India," Wu pointed out. "I can't even imagine what a show like that would look like in China." 

Dedication to craft

Khan's latest film, sports drama Dangal has earned 141 million yuan ($20.4 million) after only 6 days in mainland theaters, despite going up against Hollywood blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2.

Dangal has also garnered critical acclaim among audiences. The film currently has a 9.2/10 on Chinese media review site Douban.

The films tells the story of a former wrestler (Khan) who trains his daughters to be professional wrestlers - a traditionally male-dominated profession - rather than force them into arranged marriages like many other Indian parents.

Once again, many Chinese moviegoers have been amazed by Khan's courage in touching upon sensitive social issues and trying to inspire women to break the constraints of tradition.

A number of those who have seen the film, including celebrities, almost immediately posted how much they enjoyed the film on Chinese social media networks.

"At first, I liked Khan because he's handsome, cute and is a versatile actor who aims for perfection. But now I admire him for how he uses the power of being a public figure," Taitai (nickname), a Khan fan who runs the unofficial Aamir Khan Information Channel on Sina Weibo, in an e-mail interview with the Global Times.

"He knows that countries need more than government efforts to develop. Society needs to have its awareness raised as well… I wish there could be celebrities like him in China," Taitai wrote.

Taitai first decided to establish the fan account eight years ago when he noticed that China lacked any official channels featuring the latest information about Khan.

In his spare time, Taitai searches for latest news about Khan which he then uses to make videos about the star in Chinese. Additionally, he occasionally buys Khan-related products from India which he sells to fans through the channel, although he stated that he hasn't turned a profit from these transactions.

Taitai said that there has been a significant increase in the number of Khan fans in China in recent years.

"Uncle Mi's sincere passion for film and his consistent efforts in increasing social awareness is the reason that he has such a massive fan base," Taitai wrote. Uncle Mi, or Mi Shu, is the nickname by which fans refer to Khan in Chinese.

Khan's dedication to his roles has also earned him a lot of praise.

While shooting Dangal, Khan gained and lost a dramatic amount of weight for the role. To play the older version of the father character he increased his body weight to 97 kilograms. He underwent intense physical training, during which time he lost 25 kilograms, to play the character when he was a younger, more muscular wrestler.

A Facebook video of Khan training in the gym that he posted in December 2016 has been viewed more than 20 million times.

After Khan opened an official account on Sina Weibo on April 14, he attracted more than 432,499 followers in a short period of time.

According to Taitai, Khan's Chinese fans have held a number of activities, such as greeting him at the airport during his recent two visits to the mainland.

"I believe a great filmmaker does more than pure entertainment. A great movie should reflect society, and maybe help it develop to some extent," Wu said.

"He has done that. He is a great filmmaker and I wish there were more people like him in China."

Newspaper headline: Indian idol

Posted in: FILM

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