The script of Zhao Puchu Photo: Courtesy of Pei Zhuangchuan
After three years of hard work, famous Chinese writer Pei Zhangchuan, the vice president of the Anhui Province Writers Association, has finished the script for the 36-episode teleplay Zhao Puchu. He is now looking for investment and a film crew for the play.
The script narrates the splendid life of Zhao Puchu (1907-2000), a Buddhist leader, calligrapher and social activist. Zhao did religious and social welfare work in the early years of his life. After 1936, he began to participate in the resistance against Japanese invasion.
A famous writer of biographical literature, Pei has published many influential works like Li Hongzhang and Hong Xiuquan. In 2009, Bashangjie, a 38-episode TV series on the history of the reform and opening up in Hefei, Anhui Province, which was jointly written by Pei and writer Hu Zhengyan, was broadcasted on CCTV 8 and many other provincial television channels. It was well received and went viral, .
"The Western Returned Scholars Foundation found me in 2013 and asked me to be the scriptwriter of teleplay Zhao Puchu," Pei said, adding that the foundation told him that making a TV play about her husband was the last wish of Zhao's wife, Chen Bangzhi, before her death.
Since Zhao was born in Anhui Province, the foundation thought Pei would be the most suitable person to write the play because he is also born in Anhui and specializes in biographical writings about historical figures.
To represent Zhao on screen, Pei read over 10 million words of historical materials related to Zhao. He thought it was important to identify the materials' authenticity. The script writing also involved further historical research.
In the play, Pei focused on the stories of Zhao before 1949 that were barely known to the public. For the period after 1949, he stuck to Zhao's work on Buddhism in China and Buddhist diplomacy.
"Zhao Puchu's life stories before 1949 were amazing and moving, which shows he was a noble person," he said.
While writing, Pei did not sleep well; he worked until late every day. In December 2014, he became ill due to overwork. At that time, he had finished 30 episodes of the script.
The Western Returned Scholars Foundation promised to pay Pei 60,000 yuan ($9,016) per episode, but they did not keep their word. However, Pei did not stop writing the play because he was deeply moved by Zhao Puchu's life story. In the second half of 2015, he recovered from illness, continued to write, and finished the script.