Aamir Khan
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Aamir's Dangal ready for China release, eyes record set by PK

By HT

Bollywood star Aamir Khan will have a photo-op with giant pandas, share stage with a top Chinese boxer and a celebrity basketball player besides going on a high-profile three-city tour next week in the run-up to the release of Dangal across China in May.

A coveted opening movie slot in the non-competing panorama section of the 7th Beijing International Film Festival starting next week means Dangal will be the first Indian movie to get that niche.

Dubbed in Chinese, the movie on the rise of two Haryana sisters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, from a deeply patriarchal society in women’s wrestling, is expected to get a wide release in Communist China, on the lines of Aamir’s PK, released in 1,200 theatres in 2015.

PK was the first Indian movie to break the Rs 100-crore mark in China, a feat that the Nitesh Tiwari-directed Dangal will surely attempt to wrestle to the mat.

To start the bout, the promoters have more than doubled Dangal’s marketing and promotional budget in China besides roping in, rather befittingly for a sports movie, sports stars to share the stage with Aamir.

The actor, expected to be in China between April 16 and 21, will visit Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.

At an interaction with the press in Beijing next week, Aamir will share the stage with Zou Shiming, the current WBO flyweight title holder and Olympic gold medallist in 2008 and 2012 — he is considered China’s top boxer.

The same evening, Aamir will be at an event with former NBA player Stephon Marbury, who has led his current team the Beijing Ducks to three Chinese Basketball Association championships.

Marbury enjoys celebrity status in China and has had a musical made on his life, a postage stamp series and a museum dedicated to his career besides a statue and a Chinese green card.

In Shanghai, the Indian movie star will meet students at the Shanghai University, where he is expected to interact with them, answering questions and talking about movies in India.

And in Chengdu in Sichuan, Aamir will spend time with giant pandas at the world famous panda sanctuary.

The movie’s promoters are banking on Aamir’s relative popularity in China — he is, according to film critics and movie lovers, among India’s more recognisable stars in China because of the popularity of 3 Idiots and PK.

If Dangal succeeds in ringing the box office bell in China, it will yet again show movie makers I in India the potential of China as the world’s second largest market for movies — besides over 40,000 movie screens — after the US.