FBFY Live-action Adaptation

Some of you have asked me if I know anything about FBFY’s live-action adaptation. I do. I’ve been meaning to give you guys some info at the end of one of the chapters but I kept forgetting to. Thought I might as well do a proper post now with some actual research to back it up (as per my usual style). That said, a little disclaimer: There’s really only so much I can search for given my almost non-existent Chinese knowledge and using Google Translate, so my information isn’t the most accurate. But for those who are curious, here’s what I’ve found out.

I’ve been following a Vietnamese FBFY Facebook page for quite some time, shortly after I began this blog I think, which was how I found out about the republication of the Viet translation. The page also gives some news updates about Xiao Chun, as well as the live-action adaptation, but it’s not a whole lot of information.

What I do know is that it will a webdrama with 10-16 episodes (each source seems to say something different). Filming was completed in October 2016 and post-production ran through until the end of December. tencent_penguinThe expected release date was January 2017 but I haven’t heard much since. Some other sources said it’ll air December 2017. So basically some time this year is the only thing I could conclude 😛 The company behind the production is Tencent’s Penguin Pictures. Yup, it’s the same conglomerate behind QQ, Weibo and the likes.

The script was penned by Xiao Chun herself. Unfortunately, due to China’s ban on time-travelling theme in live-action films/dramas after the hype of Bu Bu Jing Xin (and related dramas around the time), this webdrama’s script will diverge from the novel substantially. Don’t ask me how the story will be the same after you remove the whole time-travelling bit. I still don’t get why Xiao Chun agreed to this either.

Anyhow, here are some official posters of the characters:

Niu Zi Fan as Luo Shen (Rajiva’s name in Chinese)


Chen Rong as Ai Qing


Yang Ting Dong as Xiao Fu (Pusysdeva)


Zhu Yan as Qi Po (Jiva)


Yao Zhuo Jun as Luo Yan (Kumarayana)


Niu Piao as Bai Chun (Kuchan King, brother to Jiva and uncle to Rajiva)


I have no idea who the next three characters are. They are either characters that appear later in the novel who got their names changed (like what happened to Da Mo Yao when it got adapted to a drama), or completely original characters.

Li Dong Lin as Kun Sha (Lu Guang maybe? though he looks rather kind for a villain)


Yu Hao Yang as A Duo Li


A Li Ya as Zhang Yi


Here are some more stills I’ve uncovered. I even went through the trouble of creating a weibo account for this OTL.

When they were young:

Pusysdeva and Rajiva

(probably the only photo that even came close to capturing the novel’s majestic feel)

Rajiva and his mother

When they’re adults:

Some more stills:

My thoughts:

To be completely frank, I wish they didn’t try to make a live-adaptation in the first place, if this is what it comes out to be like. A harsh judgment, yes, but you all are well aware of how big of a fan I am in regards to the novel. Oh I know that live-adaptations will always be very different from the original books, but this might just be the worst job done yet. And that’s coming from someone who has lived through both Western and Asian live-adaptations of many of her favourite books.

Before news of this webdrama came about, I had almost no expectations of a live-adapation of FBFY. I already knew about the time-travelling ban, so I thought “well it’ll hardly be FBFY without that rather important bit” and thus haboured no hopes of such production. Furthermore, unless they manage to kidnap this actor and somehow teach him Tocharian, Sanskrit and Chinese, then there’s really hardly anybody else that can possibly capture Rajiva in his entirety.


(The screenshots are from a Korean documentary about the Silk Road, and this was the actor who played Kumarajiva. I do not know his name or nationality, though I know for sure he is neither Korean or Chinese. He didn’t speak a single line the documentary. Yeah, swoon with me, because he is the perfect embodiment of Rajiva. They even got his kasaya robes right, down to the T!)

Where do I even begin my criticisms? It’s already hard enough to reconcile myself with the fact that they took out the time-travelling element because that’s the heart and soul of the story. But then I look at the actors chosen to play our main characters and I just want to weep. Ai Qing looks like she’s in her mid-30s and has none of that silly/sly sparkle in her face and eyes. Rajiva I knew had to be played by a Chinese actor and thus cannot match the novel’s description (his facial features were closer to a Caucasian, and there’s also the honey brown skin and light grey eyes part…), but the costume designer gave him white kasaya robes and I just want to flip the table! White! Kasaya is a term derived from brown or saffron dye, how did it become white??? Chinese monks wear yellow robes so I’m not sure where white even comes from. Pusysdeva…I’m not even gonna go there. Jiva needs to be more aloof, and Kumarayana…oh where did our elegant scholar father go? This guy looks more like a military general rather than a scholarly monk from India! Also, he’s supposed to be much more frail…

My final verdict:

Xiao Chun may have approved this production and may have had a say in the cast, but I still consider this whole thing a disaster. My dear author, why would you do this to your child? Why would you do this to fans of the novel? Believe me, I am not the only one bemoaning this. The Viet fans are just as displeased, and the Chinese aren’t that much better either.

I might try and skim through the first episode when it airs (and provided that I can find a link for it) just out sheer curiosity, but I doubt I will watch the rest of it. Not to mention that there will be zero chance of English subs…

This MV is probably the closest I’ll ever get to a real live-adaptation of the novel. The video used clips from the Korean documentary I mentioned above, and the featured song is called “Like a dream”, which is based on the Diamond Sutra gatha quoted in ch.17 (the 7 similes Rajiva is most famous for):

(There was another video that has better clips from the documentary but it’s unfortunately deleted already. I might attempt to reupload it one day.)

What are your thoughts on the webdrama?


13 thoughts on “FBFY Live-action Adaptation

  1. Thank you for the translations! I left vietnam so long ago that it’s easier for me to understand the English translations. Thank you for all your hard work. I can’t even translate a few paragraphs much less several dozen chapters. As far as the live action, I’m not sure how I feel about it. The time travel was very crucial to the story. Not looking forward to the changes for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you~ I left VN at a fairly young age so my Viet skills aren’t that much better, to be honest. Although I’ve retained reading comprehension for the most part, my writing is terrible now, full of spelling and grammatical errors (since I write it like I write English OTL). My own vocabulary is also very limited because I barely have interactions in Viet outside of my family. I think I started reading more CNovels partly to keep up with my Viet literacy ^^
      Yeah, this webdrama hasn’t even aired yet and I’m already pretty disappointed with it. It is truly a pity that China decided to ban time-travelling in broadcasted fictional works.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ahh. Now I’m reading your thoughts on the drama adaptation, I’m seeing all the worries and issues about it. Previously, I had a feeling that there could be lots of potential issues – how are they going to do or that, especially the languages (!!!!) – it seems impossible…? And reading what you said about the actors now too, I see how it’s a very huge concern.

    As for the time travel ban, I don’t know if there are loopholes they can go through or leniency given to webdramas. I know a lot of stuff are banned for TV dramas so time travel had been written out of drama adaptations of time travel novels. There were previous cases of webdramas having gone through with themes which are supposedly banned. But it’s also the reason why I am kind of in doubt about whether the drama will successfully air or not.

    And if they’re really going to take the time travel out, I cannot imagine what’s the drama adaptation is going to end up like…at all…

    16 episodes seems tooooo little for this story?? I can’t fully speak for that at this point but I definitely feel like there should be more going on…?

    I definitely got a bit carried away imagining how great it would be to see these scenes in live action when I was reading the book, so I got incredibly excited about it. I still want to carry some hope for it, especially learning that Xiao Chun took part in the productions – I just want to believe that there is some hope to it for that fact. But anyway I’ll be more aware of the issues it possesses. Now, I will focus on finishing the book… I have a feeling I will be having a ride ahead. (I’m so worried right now that I’m at around chapter 38 and things are starting to blow up… >_<)

    I've been trying to keep up with its news on Weibo, and also trying to find out about sentiments from the Chinese netizens but I haven't really gotten anything out of that. So yeah, it's only that I read this from a fan that I understand better about the concerns towards the drama. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, yes, 16 eps are definitely not enough to cover the whole novel. 50-60 eps would be more like it. Heck, even Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms got 50-something eps, and that story wasn’t even half as long or filled with as much content (history/Buddhism/etc) as FBFY!
      Truthfully speaking, we always habour some hopes upon finishing a great piece of literary fiction to be able to see a live-adaptation of it, but the more affected we are by the work, the higher our expectations are. I was well aware about the time-travelling ban by the time I finished reading the novel, so I had no hopes about a live-adaptation, so my reaction upon finding that one was in the works was conflicted, to say the very least. And the more I find out, the more disappointed I become. As another reader said above, it’d probably be best that we treat this webdrama as a separate work instead to lessen the pain.


  3. Hi Haru ! First of all, I would like to thank you for the translation of this novel. Really. ❤
    You did an amazing job !

    I can't really give a real opinion about the webdrama / adaptation of FBFY (even if I saw all of the available episode) because… Well, there is no eng sub (yet) and my understanding of the Chinese language is very limited. I still hope someone will accept to sub this adaptation. What I can say about it, is that there is more than 16 episode (yeaaah :D). The ban on time-travelling theme in live-action films/dramas has not been applied (I don't know why / how is it possible) ! So, Ai Qing is still from another period and travels through time three times.

    Also.The actors seem talented :

    That's all I know. =)

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s good to know the actors are doing a good job with whatever they were given. I might try and hunt down some subs (eng or viet) one day just to check out some eps!


  4. So I did watch all 20 episodes and it ends on a cliff hanger. While I have passable Chinese, I can’t compare it to the book because I haven’t read it. Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers, continue on if you do 🙂

    The cast for the story is pretty decent, young LuoChi (aka Rajiva) is amazing! The young actor playing his role is expressive with his acts and expressions and exudes that feeling of warmth and idealism synonymous with visionary religious leaders. The drama’s handling of Buddhism is deft and yet nuanced although I will state that I am not religious, just agnostic. But they make you root for them and cry with them, even and especially the secondary characters. Rajiva’s parent’s love story is the perfect example of “what’s past is prologue”. Email me if you want specifics.

    *Story changes include AiQing coming from the future with some mysterious agenda about why the scientists are giving her special privileges in returning to the past not once but twice within a short amount of time. Pretty sure I had flashbacks of “Hunger Games” at some point…

    The only thing I’m NOT happy with is that it seems to have stalled after episode 20. I really hope there’s a season II – I need closure on this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for giving me and other readers some info based on your first-hand experience of this drama! I might just try to find some subs somewhere to watch this. I did find that the child actor playing young Rajiva/Luo Shen does possess quite an aura just from the pre-release stills, glad to know his acting is also good!
      Perhaps they do plan on making a season II? Let me know if you find out anything else!


  5. I had to pop back a few posts to see what people have commented on the live-version of this novel. I’ve watched it several times (unsubbed now – the first eight episodes were originally fan subbed but I can’t find them now) on YouTube and have enjoyed it. I’ll try to keep this vague in case your readers go to watch it some day. The drama has a mostly scholarly, melancholy feel to it – the parts set in the desert are quite nice – with a great amount of discussion about following the right path and understanding your role in the world. I think some scenes have been adapted to be more humorous as well as characters and situations added. The young actors are very good – I have bookmarked them to follow their next works! As for the time traveling aspect – from what I could tell, it involved people traveling from the far future in an effort to preserve historical and cultural treasures. So, more science fiction than fantasy. From your description of the book’s storyline, I think only half of the story has been covered in this drama and from the ending, I think they were shooting for a season two. Whether or not that will air is another story! I”m so glad you are continuing your translation – it’s been a fascinating story and I appreciate the work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, very interesting. Perhaps I had judged the drama too soon based purely on the stills (oops). Maybe it might be closer to the novel than I previously thought, in terms of general feel and direction I mean. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!


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