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Chinese audiences resonate with Indian movie "Hindi Medium"

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨CCTV.com

04-20-2018 11:37 BJT

By Qian Ding, CCTV.com reporter and editor

The "Hindi Medium", one of the highest-grossing Indian films of all time, has been screening in China since April 4. The movie has captured 195 million RMB (around US$31 million) at China's box office so far.

Realistic and touching plot

The film tells the story of an Indian couple who try hard to give their daughter the best education. Raj Batra is a rich businessman who has a beautiful wife Mita and a 5 years old daughter named Pia. Like many mothers in the world, Mita's priority concern is Pia and her future. In her mind, if Pia doesn't go to the best school in India, she would feel like a loser later and do drugs. With such fears, Mita and Raj move from their old place to a rich neighborhood in the hopes of getting accepted by the "elite class" and enroll Pia at 'Delhi Grammar School', a top school in Delhi.

(Raj and Mita dress up to look more like elite class in the hope of passing the interview set for parents by top schools)

Nonetheless, they failed the interview, which means the only way left for them to get their daughter's admission is through a Right To Education (RTE) quota, which is set for people with low-income. Therefore, they lie and cheat, pretend to be poor. During the process, they meet heart-warming Shyam Prakash Kori and his wife Tulsi, they are poor but very generous. In order to help Pia pay for school, Shyam gets himself hit by a car to extort money from the driver.

(Shyam Prakash Kori and his wife Tulsi offer much to help Raj and Mita.)

Raj feels deeply touched by Shyam and ashamed for his deeds. In the end, Raj cancels his daughter's admission in spite of Mita's resistance, then they send Pia to the government run Hindi Medium school where Shyam's son Mohan studies.

Big hit at China's box office

Although the film, written by Zeenat Lakhani and directed by Saket Chaudhary, was released on May 19, 2017 in India, the film was not on screen in Chinese cinemas until April 2018. Since it was debuted, it has drawn a large number of audiences. Many Chinese viewers say they find themselves in a similar scenario as Raj and Mita in the film. Just like 'Delhi Grammar School,' elementary and middle schools in China only admit students who reside nearby, therefore, the apartments near top schools are priced much higher than others. Take Beijing, China's capital, as an example, the price of apartments in Haidian, Xicheng and Dongcheng districts where some of the best schools are located is much higher than the ones in Shijingshan and Fengtai districts.

(Information source: China Economic Weekly)

Just like Raj and Mita, many Chinese parents try hard to buy expensive school district apartments just for their children's future. For them, good elementary and middle school education leads to better opportunities to get enrolled to top universities, which means they could possibility make a better career and life for their children. With such ideology and loosened birth policy in China, the demand for school district houses continues to rise.


(Just like in the movie, many Chinese parents need to queue in long lines to wait in front of schools, or even kindergartens to get their children registered successfully.)

In the movie, Raj and Mita must be interviewed by the school. In other words, top schools require their students' parents to be educated and have visions like the elite. Not exactly the same in China, but in some Chinese schools like Primary school affiliated to Beijing Normal University, children of teacher and administrative staff of Beijing Normal University can also register in primary school affiliated to it directly. Since most schools affiliated to universities in China are some of the best schools, it means, the children of teachers have a higher chance to get a better education.

Improvement on education equality

The Chinese name for the movie is "The Starting line," which is also a common phrase that can be seen on many Chinese advertisements for training schools, baby food, toys, books and so on. In order to get kids "win at the starting line," many Chinese parents start their competition before and after the birth of the child. Getting Hukou in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai where the education infrastructure is better than other places in China, purchasing a school district apartment, buying imported baby food and milk, paying for all kinds of extra classes for kids and etc.

Education inequality is a global problem. With the increasing income distribution disparity between rich and poor, it's difficult for all students to get the same good education. Many countries have issued new policies to promote equal education. France is changing its education policy so children will start school at age three. French president Emmanuel Macron says he hopes by making the compulsory starting age younger, it will put all children on a same level playing field. In China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, financial authorities have allocated 1.1 billion RMB (about US$174 million ) to fund pre-school education in rural areas in 2018. In Rwanda, a nationwide campaign had kicked off in February. The campaign is used to mobilize community actors and ensure a quality education is offered nationwide.

On top of this, with the development of internet, many education resources can be shared online. For instance, to supply high-quality educational resources to universities in less-developed areas, China's higher education institutions established "WEMOOC" in 2013, a league with more than 100 institutional members, including Peking University and other prominent Chinese universities. Since courses are available online, more students can get access to better higher education resources. Over 3 million students from colleges in west China have obtained credits by taking WEMOOC within five years.

Long road to achieve the goal

In the movie, Raj and Mita eventually send their kid to a government run school instead of the top private school. They realized kindness, honesty, benevolence and other good characters are more important than status, class and wealth. Indeed, the formation of character should be the essence of education through which we should not only obtain skills and knowledge.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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