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Writer praised for anti-graft drama

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-30 06:47

Writer praised for anti-graft drama

Chinese actor Lu Yi plays a leading role as an anti-graft official in the TV drama In the Name of the People, built around a fictional corruption case. [Photo/China Daily]

Novelist and scriptwriter Zhou Meisen, 61, has been keeping a close watch in the past few years on news of China's intensified anti-graft drive.

A 56-episode TV series adapted from his latest novel, In the Name of the People, began airing Tuesday on the satellite channel of Hunan TV and video-streaming sites. It is to continue nightly, at least until May 1.

The drama, with an ensemble cast led by veteran actors Lu Yi and Zhang Fengyi, is built around a complex corruption case brought to light by conflicts at a factory in a fictional province.

The novel has been called groundbreaking for depicting a high-level functionary, a deputy State-level official, as a villain.

"As a writer, you should dare to delve into rarely touched sides (of anti-corruption campaigns). Otherwise, you lose the trust of your readers and audience," Zhou said.

The author has some familiarity with officialdom. He was a deputy secretary-general in the city government of Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, in the mid-1990s. He said friends still in that world have helped him write about it.

"I've never considered corrupt officials as demons. They are human. I try to explore their inner conflicts after they fall from high positions," Zhou told Beijing News.

He gained initial fame with his 1983 novella The Sinking Land, and became one of the best-known Chinese writers on the political ecosystem.

But dramatic productions dealing with corruption dropped off the screen starting in 2004 with a change in government policies, dissuading Zhou.

Now, the genre has been revived with the intensified determination of China's central leadership to crack down on corruption, starting with the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012.

Fan Ziwen, deputy director of the Supreme People's Procuratorate's Film and Television Center, repeatedly visited Zhou, persuading him to pick up his pen again in the genre in early 2015.

Zhou visited a prison in Nanjing to interview inmates and also talked to police and procurators who dealt with corruption cases.

Li Lu, an award-winning director, worked on the series with Zhou, who wrote the script. Li convinced investors to agree to a budget of up to 120 million yuan ($17.4 million), double the typical cost of modern dramas.


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