Raj Kapoor is a household name in China. He also has his own Chinese name and humming the tune of – Aawara Hoon Mein – can turn anybody down memory lane. Raj Kapoor’s impact on China has been that of a megastar, the hero of the first few foreign films the Chinese saw, he played their struggle, their joys and their love stories on the silver screen.
Today, almost 40 years later, Zee Tv’s soap operas are contorting young Chinese hearts in a similar way. What took six years to complete though is a huge cultural influence on the nation. On March 27th, CTV-STVP the country’s only agent that is allowed to distribute foreign channels gave Zee Tv Asia Pacific landing rights in China. Opening the door to Indian entertainment, Zee Tv Asia Pactific will be broadcasted in three star-plus hotels all over China.
Zee Tv, which has been lobbying with the Chinese government for a long time now was initially denied landing rights due to concerns over programmes with religious content, or any references to the Tibetan religious leader the Dalai Lama who is in exile in India, may be broadcast. However, the channel was allowed to show a few serials on a reciprocal basis with CCTV – China Central Tv. These programs, more of the saas-bahu variety, stole Chinese hearts as they identified with the same joint family struggles and triumphs.
Backed by the high TRP’s these serials saw, the increasing number of Indian businessmen and tourists to China as well as India granting CCTV landing rights in India in 2008, Beijing finally conceded to the pressure, agreeing to free airwaves and broadcast Zee Tv.
Further, the unexpected success of the 2009 film ‘3 Idiots’, directed by Rajkumar Hirani and starring Aamir Khan, also played a part, officials believe. The film took China by storm in 2010, becoming a hit among college students and a sensation on the Internet. A Chinese-dubbed version was also released in theaters nationwide in December 2011, one of the few Indian films shown publicly here since the 1970s. “The film entirely changed mindsets, of even Ministers and entire Ministries,” one official told the Hindustan Times. “It mesmerised people and convinced them that there was a lot in common between both countries, and that Indian entertainment did have a market in China”, he added.
So the next time you go on an extended visit to China, you won’t have to miss your favourite serials.
Zee Tv has an office in Guangzhou, southern China. Zee TV Asia Pacific was launched in 2004, and is seen in 18 countries in the region including Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The channel’s content in China is expected to offer similar content, including prime-time comedy, dramas and Bollywood movies.