BEI­JING’S AF­FAIR WITH AAMIR

Fan hys­te­ria dur­ing the ac­tor’s visit for the screen­ing of Dan­gal draws com­par­isons with Raj Kapoor’s pop­u­lar­ity

India Today - - INSIDE - —Ananth Kr­ish­nan

Ramila, from China’s western Xin­jiang province, isn’t a wrestling fan, but she lined up for an en­tire day for the first Bei­jing screen­ing of Dan­gal—or Shuai­jiao Baba (Dad, Let’s Wres­tle!), as the film has been chris­tened in China. Ramila was there for just one rea­son. “Aamir!” she screamed. “I first saw him in films with Ka­jol. Since then, I’ve been his big­gest fan.”

China’s af­fair with Aamir is get­ting stronger. As Dan­gal re­leases in the coun­try on May 5, distrib­u­tors are bank­ing on the Aamir magic. On the first evening of his week­long visit to China, when Aamir ap­peared on a pop­u­lar live video plat­form, two mil­lion peo­ple tuned in. Fans posted thou­sands of ques­tions within min­utes, ask­ing about his Dan­gal diet and his fu­ture plans. One wrote, “I learnt English just for you!” Most sim­ply de­clared, “I love you!”

“In the be­gin­ning, none of my films was pop­u­lar in China,” says Aamir. “That was un­til 3 Id­iots. Dhoom 3 and PK also did well here.” PK earned over Rs 100 crore, the high­est over­seas gross for an In­dian film in any for­eign mar­ket. “I feel closer to peo­ple in China than in the West,” he says. “It would be won­der­ful if we do films that have cre­ative tal­ent from China and In­dia.”

Some in China have dubbed Aamir the most pop­u­lar In­dian star in China since Raj Kapoor. That is say­ing a lot—Kapoor’s films were a craze in the 1970s, and Bei­jing taxi driv­ers still hum Awara hoon. That con­nec­tion faded as the Mid­dle King­dom em­braced Hol­ly­wood and China turned west­ward. Aamir has rekin­dled the ro­mance.

STAR-STRUCK

Aamir Khan at the Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val on April 16, where Dan­gal was screened

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