After an unprecedented response to Aamir Khan’s “PK”, China is welcoming the actor-producer’s latest Bollywood blockbuster “Dangal” with open arms in a record-breaking number of screens on Friday, the producers have said. The number of screens showing the movie would be larger than all the screens put together in India. “‘Dangal’ will release in China in 9,000 screens — which is the widest ever release for an Indian film in any territory,” Amrita Pandey, Vice President, Studios, Disney India — the movie’s co-producer — told IANS. “We are very excited to release ‘Dangal’ in China. The film is very special and with a story which has the potential to travel the world and transcend geographies,” Pandey added.
In China, which has nearly 40,000 screens, “Dangal” will release as “Shuai Jiao Baba”, which means “Let’s Wrestle, Dad”. It is a biopic of former Indian wrestler Mahavir Phogat who trains his daughters to become world-class wrestlers — a story which resonated well with the Indian audience, generating over Rs 385 crore ticket sales upon its release. According to the KPMG-Ficci Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2016, the screen count in India currently stands at 8,500, including single screens and multiplex ones. And this low screen density is said to be one of the biggest deterrents in the growth of the Indian film industry, which produces one of the maximum number of movies in a year.
Just last month, Aamir and “Dangal” director Nitesh Tiwari were in China to promote “Dangal”, which officially opened this year’s edition of the Beijing International Film Festival. “They received a tremendously positive response from the audience, press and trade there,” Pandey said. For an audience heavily fed on action-oriented films, “Dangal” could be a dekko into the world of wrestling in Indian hinterlands, very powerfully brought out on the screen by a cast led by Aamir, and including Sakshi Tanwar, apart from debutantes Fatima Sana Sheikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar.
The film features Aamir in a diametrically different character from his part in “PK”, which saw him play an alien. The Rajkumar Hirani directorial had minted over Rs 100 crore in China with a release across 4,000 plus screens. Raj Kapoor’s “Awara” was perhaps one of the earliest introductions to Indian cinema in the country. In a 2015 interview to IANS right after “PK” managed over a sixth of its Rs 600 crore ($94 million)-plus earnings from China alone, Aamir had discussed how people there had historically loved Indian films. “I think the people of China and India seem to have a connect, which is emotional, cultural, and they are quite similar people,” the actor, whose “3 Idiots” and “Dhoom 3” also did well in China, had told IANS.