Huang Xiaoming and Yin Zheng to Star in Yu Zheng’s BL Remake
To everyone’s pleasant surprise, Yu Zheng’s (于正) next big project after Story of Yanxi Palace <延禧攻略> will be Winter Begonia <鬓边不是海棠红>, a popular BL novel inspired by Lillian Lee’s (李碧華) Farewell My Concubine <霸王別姬>.
Set in 1933, Winter Begonia centers on the performers working for the Peking Liyuan Theater. Wealthy and promiscuous businessman Cheng Fengtai meets the famous Peking Opera actor Shang Xirui, and they fall in love. The novel—much like Lee’s Farewell My Concubine—deals with themes of homosexuality and violence.
In order to bypass Chinese censors, Fengtai and Xirui’s romantic relationship was rewritten into a friendship instead—passionate about Peking Opera, Xirui enlists the help of Fengtai to build a school dedicated to cultivating new performers, but with the oncoming invasion of Imperial Japan, the two close friends let go of their dreams to protect their country. Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明) will portray Cheng Fengtai, while Yin Zheng (尹正) will portray Shang Xirui.
Though it isn’t a surprise that the homosexuality aspect of the story had been written off, Yu Zheng said his reasons for adapting the novel was because he wanted to do a project on Peking opera. The 1933 Liyuan Theater was also built from scratch.
Yu Zheng explained, “The original intention of Winter Begonia is to spread the culture of Peking opera. I chose this novel because I like the author’s purpose of spreading the kernel of Peking opera. We spent an entire year to write the story exactly the way we wanted it to be presented—1930’s, a patriotic businessman who works hard to protect the culture of Peking opera. The drama’s first male lead and focus is Cheng Fengtai, and we want to use him to slowly bring the audiences closer and closer to this art. The drama will not be about the ‘relationship of socialist brothers’ (t/n: slang for two male characters who are originally in a romantic relationship being rewritten into a suggestive bromance instead) and also not a television adaptation of so-and-so, but purely about two people who share the same interests and walk on the same road to complete their mission together.”
The drama and Yu Zheng’s post have brought upon a lot of discussion, with some fans of the original novel voicing out their disappointment of changing the two male leads’ relationship. “It doesn’t have to be romantic, but it won’t be the same if their brotherly relationship is written out,” said one fan. Another fan found an older post of Yu Zheng, who told his Weibo followers at the time that Winter Begonia would focus on the “close brotherly relationship” of the two male leads.
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.