BOLLYWOOD TIME FOR EAST ASIAN WOMEN
Chinese actor Zhu Zhu makes her debut with Salman Khan; and a Japanese will be cast by Imtiaz Ali
This Eid won’t just see the third collaboration between Salman Khan and filmmaker Kabir Khan on Tubelight (after Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan), but also an Indo Chinese alliance of sorts, as Salman is paired with Chinese actor Zhu Zhu in the film.
Tubelight makers did an “extensive casting call across various cities, including Beijing, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong” to find a female lead. “I liked Zhu Zhu immediately,” says Kabir, “as she has a strong screen presence and is a fantastic actor. Salman and she will make an interesting on-screen couple.”
Then, an Indo-Japanese production titled Love in Tokyo, to be co-produced by Imtiaz Ali and directed by his brother Arif Ali, will have an Indian male star and a Japanese female lead. A contemporary love story, the film will be “almost entirely” shot in Japan, from the second half of this year.
While a number of foreign actors from Brazil, UK, US and Australia have worked in Bollywood earlier, Far Eastern or Southeast Asian stars have rarely made their way into Hindi films. One instance was the casting of Thai actor Lena Christensen in 2008; she starred opposite Shreyas Talpade in Nagesh Kukunoor’s Bombay to Bangkok.
About the connection, Imtiaz explains, “We in the Asian countries are quite alike. Although we eat Western food and wear Western clothes, our values are very Eastern. So, there are a lot of similarities [between the cultures] but the languages are different. Also, we can relate to the same emotions.”
Zhu Zhu says, “I was deeply touched by the spirit of the film, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Salman Khan. Kabir is not only a brilliant filmmaker but through his films, he talks about humanity, love and ordinary people’s lives that everyone in the world can relate to.”