Indian flavour wafted in the air at the recent Shanghai International Film Festival.
Shanghai has always considered itself to be China’s film capital. In the early 20th Century, when the already international city was dubbed the “Paris of the East”, it played home to China’s first great filmmakers.
The city relives its proud cinematic history every year at the Shanghai International Film Festival, which has since its inception a decade ago grown into one of the biggest events of its kind in Asia.
This year, the festival, which opened last week, for the first time had an Indian flavour, with Aamir Khan’s “Dhobi Ghat”, Shakun Batra’s “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu” and the documentary film “Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told” all slated for showings.
With Chinese interest in Indian cinema, sparked by Raj Kapoor, reignited by Aamir Khan’s own “3 Idiots”, the festival, Indian film companies hope, will pave the way for entry into the lucrative China market.
It isn’t, of course, only Indian film houses that are lustily eyeing the China market (however belatedly). The Shanghai event, like the Beijing fest that was held last month, has become a magnet for Hollywood, with the Middle Kingdom becoming its biggest export market. In Beijing, James Cameron grandly announced that he was interested in co-productions with China, possibly even for his next Avatar film.
In Shanghai, the announcement of a $ 100 million China and Hollywood co-production of Stan Lee’s Chinese superhero “The Annihilator” was the highlight.
Underscoring the Chinese film market’s new global appeal, sitting on the jury of the Shanghai Film Festival was French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud, who 15 years ago angered the Chinese government with “Seven Years in Tibet”.
A decade on, the once critical Mr. Annaud is involved in $ 30 million production of the popular Chinese novel Wolf Totem, in partnership with the biggest State-run film production company.