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Home / Opinion / Beyond borders: The cinematic bond between India, China

An Indian man battles all odds to help a little girl return home to Pakistan and the Chinese audience responds with heartfelt applause. That’s precisely the reaction Bajrangi Bhaijaan garnered upon its release in China earlier this year. The Chinese embraced the cross-border friendship story with its emotions and the film enjoyed a strong box-office performance, raking in over Rs300 crore, despite releasing nearly three years after its worldwide showcasing.

The appeal of Hindi movies with Chinese moviegoers has escalated over the past couple of years and a scan through the revenues of Hindi films in the neighbouring country reveals how our locally rooted stories have created a strong impact, with China emerging as a key new market and a major box-office earner for Indian releases.

The recent spate of successes brings forth an attractive proposition that is a mutually complementing creative alliance capable of re-shaping Indian movie business overseas and developing true-blue co-productions with a significant market opportunity.

With the ability to foresee market trends and anticipating this potential earlier on, we became the first Indian film studio to plan co-productions with China, the seed of which was planted with our representation at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s delegation to China in 2015.

This included the announcements for Kabir Khan’s travel drama, The Zookeeper, and Siddharth Anand’s cross-cultural romantic comedy, Love in Beijing. Based on cross-border stories, both films will bring together the best of cast and culture from India and China to address a larger audience.

With memorandums signed with leading Chinese state-owned film companies, China Film Group Corp., Shanghai Film Group and Fudan University for the enhancement of intellectual property rights as well as to develop, co-produce, co-create and distribute Indo-China films across all platforms in both countries, we are poised to tell stories that transcend language barriers and have mainstream appeal.

We believe our Indo-China co-productions will be game-changing as we pave the way to open one of the largest film markets in the world.

The remarkable success of Dangal, Secret Superstar and Bajrangi Bhaijaan proves that the floodgates for Bollywood have opened in China, and we plan to continue the momentum with four-to-five releases every year.

We are also planning to exploit around 50 popular titles from our library on CCTV, the dominant state television broadcaster in China. Additionally, we are in the initial stages of exploring local partnerships to launch our OTT (over-the-top) platform, Eros Now, in China.

Encouraged by the growing potential and infinite opportunities to create value and synergy with Indo-Sino content, we are considering opening a local office in China. We continue to establish our dominant global distribution network into the Chinese market.

With access to more than 2.5 billion consumers, over 50,000 movie screens and an accelerating digital infrastructure, backed by our multiple-decade long expertise in the Indian film business, Eros intends to ride on this potential and captivate the Chinese moviegoer by creating a Bollywood rage in the country.

Swaneet Singh is chief strategy officer at Eros International.

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