A personal endorsement from Xi portends well for Bollywood’s continued fortunes in the world’s second-largest entertainment market.
Bollywood’s Dangal, already the highest earning non-Hollywood foreign film in Chinese history, earned another important Chinese fan over the weekend — China’s President Xi Jinping.
Speaking to his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a summit in Kazakhstan on Friday, Xi said he ‘loved’ the Aamir Khan-starrer, and that he wanted to see more such movies in China in the future, India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told Indian media.
Aamir Khan’s Dangal is inspired by the inspiring real-life story of the Haryanvi wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, who trained his daughters Geeta and Babita Kumari to become international level wrestlers.
The Indian wrestling drama has been smashing records since debuting in China on Friday, May 5. Propelled by positive word of mouth, the film took more than two weeks to hit its biggest day.
The film has already earned RMB 1.2 billion (US$176.5 million) and thanks to a one-month release extension until July 4, looks set to haul in an extra $20 million.
Pronouncements about President Xi Jinping’s personal aesthetic preferences have proven significant in the past. In 2014, after Xi called for an end to “weird architecture” in China, architects scrambled to interpret whether their designs would fall afoul of the President’s particular taste.
Xi has given few clues as to his movie tastes over the years save for a few namedrop of American classics The Godfather and The Deer Hunter. A US diplomatic cable leaked in 2010 shed more light on his movie top 10 list.
In a March 2007 dinner conversation between Xi—at that time, the Communist Party Secretary of Zhejiang province —and U.S. Ambassador Clark Randt, Xi revealed he was a fan of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.
A personal endorsement from Xi, widely seen as the country’s most powerful leader in decades, on top of already enthusiastic Chinese audiences, portends well for Bollywood’s continued fortunes in the world’s second-largest entertainment market.