‘He’s my inspiration,’ fans say at Aamir Khan’s birthday party in China
Published: Mar 15, 2021 10:06 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Aamir Khan's Chinese fan club

Photo: Courtesy of Aamir Khan's Chinese fan club

Chinese fans celebrated Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan's 56th birthday at the Indian Embassy in Beijing on Sunday, with many of them saying "Uncle Mi [Khan]" is their life inspiration. An expert said Monday that the event was a good example of China-India cultural exchanges, and that relations should not be obstructed by differences.

About 80 Chinese and Indian fans and diplomats from the embassy's cultural department attended the event, which was initiated by Aamir Khan's Chinese fun club and hosted by the embassy, according to a report the Global Times received from the club.

People could see a portrait of Khan drawn by one of his Chinese fans at the event. During the celebration, attendees enjoyed a three-minute introduction video of Khan that was made by his fans, highlighting their idol's most popular movies including Three Idiots, PK, and Dangal, as well as videos and photos about the club's activities. 

"Like many other Chinese children, I began to know you when I was 16 due to Three Idiots, which had a profound influence on me. Besides watching your movies one by one, I have been further enlightened by you through your famous TV show Truth Alone Prevails," a fan named Yin Yicheng wrote in his letter.

Photo: Courtesy of Aamir Khan's Chinese fan club

Photo: Courtesy of Aamir Khan's Chinese fan club

"I still remember the time I performed an Indian dance in front of you when you came to Beijing in 2018, and the moment we hugged. I always feel that the world and the future are reaching out to greet me every time I recall the hug you gave me whenever I experience sorrow," the letter reads. "I hope you know that there is a young man in China who always thinks 'what would Khan do if he was in the same situation?' when he meets difficulties in life."

"I like your movie Like Stars on Earth the best as it allowed me to understand that the world never lacks beauty, but only the eyes to discover beauty. Now I am a teacher, and I hope to be the one who can really understand her students and never give up on any of them," read another letter from a fan called Huihui.

"I will never forget the day you sang to me at my birthday in 2018. I was so excited that I started to tremble, and too nervous to say anything more than 'Thank you,'" the letter says. "I truly hope I can say just one more word to you if there is a next time."

Hailed as a "national icon," Khan has gained many Chinese people's love through his films, with Dangal ranking as the most successful non-Hollywood foreign film in China. Khan also has more than 1.13 million followers of his Twitter-like Sina Weibo account as of Monday. Many fans left blessing messages at the comment section of his newest post about his birthday.

"We founded the fan club in 2015, and have celebrated Uncle Mi's birthday every year since then," Yang Ajie, organizer of the fan club, told the Global Times on Monday. "This is the first time we held the event at the Indian Embassy, and they were very supportive despite the COVID-19 pandemic."

Asked about the strain in current China-India relations due to political and territorial disputes, Yang said that it didn't influence the event. "We love Uncle Mi because of his movies, and the culture, value, and positive energy he conveys to us. Politics is not something we consider."

"But I would be really honored and happy if what we have done can help repair the relationship between the two countries and foster exchanges. Thanks to Uncle Mi, many of his Chinese and Indian fans have become good friends," she noted. 

China-India relations have deteriorated rapidly since the two countries clashed in the border confrontation that occurred in the Galwan Valley in June 2020, ending up with casualties on both sides. Although the two sides are gradually disengaging troops on the border after months of tense standoff, there are still concerns about the relationship, particularly after the first online meeting of the Quad countries (the US, Japan, India and Australia), which media outlets interpreted as an effort to counter China.

"China and India, two neighboring powers, should learn to coexist no matter what kind of disputes they have. They have spent most of their time in friendly exchanges and learning from each other throughout history, and cultural exchanges have always played a significant role," Jiang Jingkui, a professor of Indian languages at Peking University, told the Global Times on Monday.

"This event is a good example of the potential exchanges. Khan values his Chinese fans and hasn't fallen into narrow nationalism or said things that hurt them, even though he has been criticized by India's Hindu nationalists as being 'The Dragon's favorite Khan,'" said Jiang. "The fan club also continued organizing such celebrations to promote cultural exchanges despite the worsened bilateral relations and the COVID-19 pandemic."

"The Indian Embassy has also been actively promoting the soft power connection between China and India. For example, it held the Diwali festival in Beijing in November 2020, and will celebrate World Hindi Day and Holi Festival later this month," said Jiang, adding that China also needs to learn from India on how to respect, accept and inherit traditional culture in terms of soft power. 

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