New Delhi: Indian films slowly seem to be losing shine at the China box office, a market so far springing up one blockbuster after another. Akshay Kumar’s biographical drama Padman released last week, has registered an unimpressive total of $3.55 million (Rs. 25.54 crore). The film that also features Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte had made Rs. 78.22 crore upon its release in India earlier this year. Trade website Box Office India pointed out that at $1.75 million, the opening numbers of the R.Balki directed film were even lower than Kumar’s last release in China Toilet: Ek Prem Katha that had collected $2.25 million.

“Pad Man registers a low start in China. Opening day numbers are much lower than Toilet: Ek Prem Katha which opened in June 2018. The two-day total remains on the lower side," tweeted trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Indian film disappointments seem to be increasingly common in China this year. A few weeks ago, Sony Pictures Entertainment India’s comedy drama 102 Not Out had made $3.56 million (Rs 25.06 crore) in the neighbouring country. India’s blockbuster war epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion too had only managed about $11.9 million (Rs 80 crore). Some of these may be decent numbers in themselves but unimpressive considering the benchmark traditionally set by Bollywood films in China.

To be sure, the success story there, so far, has been majorly driven by Aamir Khan-starrers. While his sports drama Dangal, currently the highest-grossing Indian film in China, had made close to 1,200 crore, his musical production Secret Superstar earned around 760 crore. Other superhits include PK ( 123 crore) and 3 Idiots ( 16 crore), which Khan had promoted in the country personally.

The massive screen count is an important factor for Indian films to have managed such impressive theatrical returns in China, according to industry experts. The country almost quadrupled its screen count in the last few years, from around 10,000. India, on the other hand, works with 9,000-odd cinemas divided between single screens and multiplexes.

The second big factor contributing to the sky-high collections is the difference in ticket rates. The average ticket price in China is $12 compared with India’s $1.5. But most importantly, Indian stories with their strong emotional chord have resonated with Chinese audiences, who are used to either Hollywood spectacles or Chinese mythologies and fantasies. Be it Secret Superstar about a young aspiring female singer fighting a patriarchal system or Hindi Medium centered on issues of education and parenting.

To be sure, all hopes are now pinned on Yash Raj Films’ action adventure Thugs of Hindostan that is releasing in China on 28 December.

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