Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who is here for the special screening of his film Zero at the Beijing International Film Festival (BIFF), believes India and China should co-produce films that highlight family values, a link that binds together both the cultures.
The actor said cinema and art speak to people beyond language and they will always be at the centre of people-to-people dialogue.
“Technology, exports and imports all that is going to happen but cinema is always going to be at the forefront or art is going to be at the front of people-to-people exchanges,” Shah Rukh said in an interview to state-run CGTN.
“Culture, reading, writings, these are going to be the things that are going to enhance people-to-people connect because the language of art is beyond semantics and understanding and the actual grammar,” he added.
Gifts, flowers and countless kisses is how his admirers greeted Shah Rukh at Beijing International Airport as many of his fans in China had travelled over 2,500 kms from Xinjiang Autonomous Regions to catch a glimpse of their favourite celebrity, CGTN said in its report.
“When I walked out, (at the airport) suddenly they screamed… and for a moment I thought they were doing it for something else or someone else, now I have gotten to know that they were from Xinjiang. Thank you everyone from Xinjiang for much love, so many hugs and so many kisses,” Shah Rukh said in the interview.
“Maybe we could do a film about Indian and Chinese superheroes… It will be really nice,” he added.
Bollywood movies are very popular in Xinjiang, the sprawling Chinese province bordering India where Uygur Muslims of Turkik origin are a majority and Shah Rukh is a popular celebrity there.
Later, talking at the dialogue forum of the festival on Thursday, Shah Rukh said, “We should work on the story that everybody wants to do. India China co-production should not be based on making an expensive movie. Rather it should be based on a better story… It should be about our family values, our culture, our own feelings that should make this film; in which there is a message because emotionally we are connected to both the people of the country.
“The future of films is in co-production. Films should go ahead with entertainment, should go beyond business. Movies are a valuable item, whose future is very bright.”
Shah Rukh said the audiences in India are the youngest at this point of time.
“In India, language, culture, religion and costumes change every two kilometres. Therefore, we must go ahead and introduce Indian culture and India to the world. Movies are changing every twenty years in the world, but family values and people’s feelings are the same.
“We have also grown up seeing very good Chinese movies, whose English dubbing was very bad. The story of India and Chinese films is one — messages, emotions, sentiments and family values are one, he said.
The actor said he is open to acting in a Chinese movie provided he can learn Mandarin quickly.
“I would not like someone to dub for me, I will rather play a quiet guy who only sings and dances,” he said, adding that he grew up watching Chinese kung-fu movies and it would be great if he could be a part of Chinese production in some way.
Asked about his message to fans, Shah Rukh hoped that they will like his films.
“Thank you so much for being so kind. I least expected this, that there would be so many people here who like me and it’s very sweet of you. By God’s grace, I will get some wonderful films to China and when you write to me or message me please send me some good Chinese films every year, at least 10 good Chinese movies to watch. Lots and lots love,” he said.
With the success of Aamir Khan’s Dangal, China has emerged as a potential big market for Indian films. Usually, Hollywood and local films dominate the box office, which generated over 60.9 billion yuan (over USD 10 billion) in revenues last year.
In recent years, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Secret Superstar and Andhadhun have performed well at the box office in China.
BIFF has also listed five Indian films, including Satyajit Ray’s classic Pather Panchali, for screening under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries category despite strong reservations expressed by India over the trillion-dollar project.