LIFE / CULTURE
Xinjiang comedy tells poverty relief stories with light humor
Brilliant people
Published: Apr 17, 2022 06:13 PM
Promotional material for <em>Yutian Yakexi</em> Photos: Courtesy of the production team

Promotional material for Yutian Yakexi Photos: Courtesy of the production team

Promotional material for <em>Yutian Yakexi</em> Photos: Courtesy of the production team

Promotional material for Yutian Yakexi Photos: Courtesy of the production team

A group of young people from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have come together to produce a positive comedy programs exclusively belonging to the region. Following their first viral hit, the online short-video series Anar Pishti, they are now taking on a more serious theme, poverty relief, in their 20-episode series Yutian Yakexi (Brilliant Yutian). 

Yutian Yakexi, which means that Yutian, a county in Hotan prefecture, is brilliant in Uygur language, started airing online on April 8. After one week, the reviews have been positive and views for the first two episodes have surpassed 10 million, Enzat Tohti, producer of the series, told the Global Times.

The series tells a story about officials from North China's Tianjin helping lift people in the region out of poverty. At first, the farmers in the region misunderstand the intentions of Cheng Ran, one of the officials, but then they become friends. In the end, the Xinjiang farmers finally achieve prosperity and make their dreams come true with the help of Cheng.

Enzat Tohti said that the series presents the lives of local residents in many ways, from the changes in their clothing and housing to their views on poverty relief.

"Last year, we went to Yutian for a charity performance. I found that compared to five or six years ago, the city has changed a lot. For example, expressways have been built as well as high-rise buildings," the producer said, explaining the inspiration for the series. 

"The officials from Tianjin told us that there was a big breakthrough in the field of poverty alleviation. In addition to economic conditions improving, people's cultural lives were also enriched. They learned concepts about the economy and management methods, and in the learning of Putonghua (Standard Chinese), they have also made great progress."

One of local residents said that her income rose to 3,000 yuan ($470.8) a month after being hired by a newly built food factory, while previously she had been only able to make a little money by raising cows and sheep.

The stories of the two leading roles played by actors Daodao and Maomao Bai are based on the real experiences of young locals starting their own businesses.

The production team took advantage of the cast's comedic talent to narrate these stories in a humorous way.

Bai told the Global Times that based on in-depth research, the writers and performers worked together to refine the script and fill it with interesting details. For example, the crew members found that the rhythm of kneading dough to make naan, leavened oven-baked or tawa-fried flatbread, sounds like playing the drums, so they filmed the scene where Bai makes naan as if he was playing a musical instrument. 

Bai said that they are currently working on a second season, about people from Xinjiang working in Tianjin, that is expected to be ready for release in October.

After filming the series, the crew members gained a deeper understanding of poverty alleviation works and the officials who support Xinjiang. The series is a tribute to these selfless people, the producer said.

"Poverty alleviation dramas will become one of the main directions of our team's future creation, showing Xinjiang people's happy lives and sunny, positive mental attitude," the producer added.

The team has grown quite popular on Chinese social media platforms since their online short video series Anar Pishti debuted in 2016. The show has been running for seven seasons by now, earning more than 100 million views on Douyin, the Chinese name for TikTok, alone.