Bollywood star Aamir Khan, Hong Kong filmmaker Stanley Tong talk about film cooperation at Taihu World Cultural Forum

By Huang Tingting Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/21 17:48:39

Indian filmmaker Aamir Khan attends the Movies as Cultural Carriers for Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind forum in Beijing on Friday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Chinese and overseas cultural experts and filmmakers including Bollywood star Aamir Khan and Hong Kong filmmaker Stanley Tong talked about film cooperation and cultural exchanges during the two-day Taihu World Cultural Forum that kicked off in Beijing on Thursday.

In China, Khan is widely known for his hit films Dangal and Secret Superstar, which earned more than 2 billion yuan ($288 million) in total after they debuted in the Chinese mainland in 2017 and January of this year. Since the huge success of Dangal, Khan began appearing more frequently as a cultural ambassador for Indian films at Chinese events.

Indian film ambassador

At the Movies as Cultural Carriers for Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind forum held on Friday, Khan shared his experiences in helping bring Indian films to audiences around the world.

"The fact is that when I am making a movie, I am not thinking about the audience, I am not thinking about what my audience is going to be and where the movie is going to be seen, at the time I am just thinking as a person what excites me," the Indian filmmaker said while speaking at the forum.

According to Khan, a good story is the key factor behind any successful film, so instead of trying to make a film that caters to international audiences everywhere, he focuses on telling local stories.

"Personally, I think the deeper you go into your own culture, the deeper you go into your own villages, the deeper you go into your own stories, the more international you will be because people from all over the world would like to know your culture," Khan explained.

Though the number of Indian films imported to China has grown significantly over the past two years, only a few Chinese films have made it into India in recent years.

"At one time there used to be posters of Bruce Lee in every Indian household, but for many years there have been no exchanges of film from China to India. And now I feel as a movie person in India, I want to take films from China to distribute them in India and showcase Chinese culture and Chinese people's lives to Indian audiences. I think that will bring Indian people closer to Chinese people," Khan noted, adding that the Chinese films that he is looking to bring to India will be "stories about normal people in China - their dreams, their hopes, their fears."

The exchange of cinema across borders is important and is what helps bring cultures closer, the Indian star emphasized.

When asked if he has plans to make a film in China, Khan said that a story he has long been interested in is The Deer and the Cauldron, Hong Kong writer Louis Cha's renowned 1969 martial arts novel about a low-born man named Wei Xiaobao who manages to become a high-level official using only his wits and some cunning tricks.

Hearing this, Tong urged Khan to buy the movie rights to the novel so that Khan could make an Indian adaptation in which he casts himself as the hero.

'Dress' to impress

Now the world's second largest film market, China saw its 2018 box office pass the 50 billion yuan mark on October 3, 47 days earlier than last year, Cao Yin, director of the CCTV movie channel's program center, noted at the forum.

"Filmmaking is an indicator of a country's soft power. In our times today, it should be connected to the destiny of humanity and civilization," Cao told the audience at the forum.

Talking about how to bring Chinese films to the world, Tong noted that it's important for Chinese filmmakers to present their stories using film techniques shared and understood in both the East and West.

Tong, an award-winning director, is known for his Kung Fu Yoga, the 2017 Chinese-Indian action co-production starring Jacky Chan. More notable, he also directed the 1995 action comedy Rumble in the Bronx, the Chan film that launched the Hong Kong star into the consciousness of mainstream audiences in the US.

"The key reason why Chinese kung fu movies became known to the world is not just due to the action scenes, but also because of the ethics and culture connected to those films," Tong emphasized.

Chinese filmmakers should think about how to "dress" Chinese culture in their movies in order to help export their films to the world, Tong said.

Newspaper headline: Carrier of culture

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