Aamir Khan's Dangal Is A Blockbuster In China. This Could Be Why

The critically acclaimed Dangal, starring Aamir Khan, is running to packed houses in China, and has quickly become the top non-Hollywood foreign film in the country

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Aamir Khan's Dangal Is A Blockbuster In China. This Could Be Why

Aamir Khan plays a wrestler in Dangal

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Dangal is one of the most successful films in India
  2. It has earned more than $125 million in China box office
  3. 'Audiences (in China) were deeply touched by the story,' said an analyst
Aamir Khan's Dangal, which is based on the true story of a wrestler's struggle to challenge gender stereotypes and turn his daughters into world-class fighters, has become an unlikely hit in China, the country with the most serious gender imbalance in the world. The critically acclaimed Dangal, starring Aamir Khan, is running to packed houses in China, and has quickly become the top non-Hollywood foreign film in the country. It has earned more than $125 million since its May 5 release, data showed.

"The ideas of breaking gender roles and reforming education inspired by theg film have struck a chord with many Chinese parents," the official Xinhua news agency said.

Dangal, which means wrestling in Hindi, has become one of the most successful Indian films, and had sparked a conversation on gender bias in the country, which has a ratio of 933 women to 1,000 men. Haryana, where the film is set, has among the worst gender ratios in the country. It also has among the highest incidences of violence against women.

The movie is based on the story of Haryanvi wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters Geeta and Babita, both Commonwealth Games gold medallists. It is a departure from the romances and action movies with colourful song-and-dance sequences that were once signature elements of Bollywood.

Instead, it highlights the realities of the fight for gender equality in India which, like China, where women are pressured to marry young.

"Audiences (in China) were deeply touched by the story," said Zhao Li, an analyst with entertainment research firm EntGroup.

Dangal has sparked online debates about gender in China as well, he said, particularly around the importance of filial piety, another trait that India and China have in common.

About 118 boys are born for every 100 girls in China.

Chinese officials in 2015 described the gender imbalance among newborns as "the most serious and prolonged" in the world, a direct ramification of the country's strict one-child policy.

The measure, introduced in 1979 to limit population growth, had led to families aborting female foetuses and abandoning baby girls, practices that are also common in India.

A new two-child policy came into effect last year.

"Gender bias is a universal issue that can cut across culture and language barriers and strikes an emotional chord," said Anuja Gulati, a programme officer at the U.N. Population Fund in India.

"Films and other popular culture can be very effective in increasing awareness and effecting change," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Emma Batha. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

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