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Reading China in popular Hindi film – three points in time: 1946, 1964 and 2009

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The years 1946, 1964 and 2009 are references to three Hindi films, Dr Kotnis ki Amar Kahani/The Immortal Story of Dr Kotnis (Shantaram, 1946), Haqeeqat/Reality (Anand, 1964) and Chandni Chowk to China (CC2C) (Advani, 2009). The article will draw on three points in history. The first film Dr Kotnis ki Amar Kahani/The Immortal Story of Dr Kotnis, is set during the anti-imperialist struggles in India and China, when India sent a team of doctors to China to support the CCP during the Long March and anti-Japanese activities. The team included the famous Dr Kotnis, and the film, a bio-pic, provides a great deal of material for Indian perceptions of the Chinese and attitudes towards China at the time, Comintern activity and the revolutionary fervour that bound the two. The second film, Haqeeqat, was a direct response to the 1962 invasion of India by China, and here we see the valorization of the Indian army defending the nation against the ‘enemy’: China. The third film, CC2C, set in a time of a globalized world, with India and China as confident trading partners, reveals yet another set of values that shows admiration for China’s ancient traditions while ridiculing the self and yet triumphing over the other. These films will be analysed to reveal interactions between these two global players and what they mean at different points in time.

Keywords: China in Hindi film; Chinese in Hindi film; Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis; India–China Border War of 1962; India–China relations; kung fu; popular Hindi film

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Hong Kong

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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