Nothing India-related created a stir in China such as Dangal on its first day of release. Aamir Khan‘s starrer made about Rs 20 crore ($3.11 million) on its first day of release on May 5 from some 7,000 screens. Aamir’s earlier movies have also done well in China. But Dangal seems to have found that rare connect with Chinese audiences.
Besides reports of Chinese audiences spontaneously giving standing ovations at the end of screenings, no Indian movie has seen ratings of 9.8 on the ticket-purchasing app Maoyan. There were more than 68,000 comments on Dangal on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, and the film was among Weibo’s “hot topics”.
On WeChat, the popular mobile phone app, users were sharing their experiences of watching the movie and telling their friends to go and watch it. The movie’s central theme – that girls are as good as boys – seems to resonate in China, which like India is a patriarchal society.
“It made me think of my father. His reticent love for us. I wanted to call him, say nothing, just cry, and cry like a river to release myself from my deep regrets. But who can tell me his number in the other world,” said a senior academic with a top Chinese think-tank.
The academic continued: “It also made my son reach some understanding about his always pushy father. Thanks Dangal. Thanks, Aamir Khan. I have to admit in these prosperous times, China’s movie industry spends so much while it wins too little with many showy stars, no artist shining. Shame.”
Tan Zheng , editor of Diangying Yishu (Film Art) magazine, while explaining the connect that Chinese audiences might have found with the movie, said: “It is like the story of a Chinese village girl becoming an Olympic champion. Indian films are usually good at song and dance. But the director used music very naturally. And the music helps the film’s narrative successfully, especially in the parts of the last match.”
“Poison Tongue”, one of China’s more influential online film critics, was full of praise for the Indian movie. “This is a great film. Two-and-half hours did not seem long at all. The pacing and emotional build-up were explosively well executed. Not a single plot point overly sentimental, which resolved the traditional problem of inspirational sports films being drowned in suffering. This is not just a great film,” Poison Tongue’s review said.
Dangal is likely to break PK’s record of the first Indian movie to make Rs 100 crore ($15.55 million) in China. But it seems to have already breached the level of expectations about Indian movies here – it will be a few notches higher from now on, says a Hindustan Times report.