On my first trip to Pakistan in 2005, I was walking through the alleys of a Lahore market and was struck by the number of stalls selling posters of popular Bollywood actors. I established a direct correlation between the Pakistani audience’s love for Bollywood and the warmth with which they received two young Indian girls. On subsequent trips around the world to the non-English speaking world, in particular, I have found that the connection between India and Bollywood always ensures an open smile of gratitude and a feeling of good nature with strangers.
A taxi driver in Turkey communicated with me in sign language except singing, Awara hoon, ya gardish mein hoon aasmaan ka taara hoon. A group of young girls in Gaza, living amid the rubble of a relentless war, wanted me to convey a message of admiration on their behalf to Shahid Kapoor. A group in Morocco hookah lounge realized I was Indian and played Tujhey dekha toh yeh jana sanam to wild cheers. A wedding party in Lahore where only Bollywood acts were performed or a Nigerian pilot, a die-hard fan of Amitabh Bachchan, who claimed he had become five times pray when Allah saved Bachchan’s life after the fateful accident on the sets of Coolie. They were all foreigners who felt a special connection to India because of Bollywood.
Every time I have traveled I have understood the reach of Bollywood’s soft power. Used judiciously, Bollywood could have been India’s benevolent weapon on the world stage. However, no government really understood the potential of Bollywood, and if they did, they chose to ignore it. Until 2014.
The Modi government was the only government in the history of independent India to not only understand the extent of Bollywood’s usefulness in serving the state agenda, but also to have used the power of the stars. Unfortunately, instead of using the soft power of Bollywood to propel Indian values onto the world stage, the government has used Bollywood for a more personal agenda.
The past six years have seen Bollywood’s elite endorse government campaigns, tweet vehemently in support of the government, praise the Prime Minister, make films that barely conceal obvious references to the Prime Minister and his various programs. assistance, and enthusiastically contributing to disaster relief funds. named after PM.
Bollywood stars graced PM duties and posed for selfies. Popular dialogues were brought to the service of the BJP campaign and films praising the government turned governments’ self-proclaimed military successes into legends. What does Bollywood have in return?
Bollywood found itself playing the villain in a salacious, high-pitched, delusional, separate from the facts trial of a shady tale of drugs, nepotism, Mafia influence and rape accusations in the media trial four months after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The industry has been described as filthy, a den of drugs, and a stench that all Arabian perfumes cannot hide. Top actors and producers have seen their characters murdered by hysterical anchors, their WhatsApp chats fled and summoned for questioning. Not a sound of government support that many mainstream Bollywood audiences have spent the past six years paying homage to.
In fact, pro-government actors, who have had immense success in Bollywood, have often turned on the industry with accusations that weren’t quite fair, sometimes in Parliament. And the Sangh-inspired right-wing social media system is full of bizarre theories about the many ills in Bollywood ranging from Jihad and ISI’s Pakistani relations, to incest and murder!
While it is understandable that no businessman would want to jeopardize their investment by clubbing against dispensation from power, especially given the degree of control that various government bodies can exercise over the release of films, Bollywood the general public must ask themselves if they have made a raw deal. by choosing the path of blind smoothness. And as it braces for a court battle with two news channels over slanderous content, Bollywood may need to shed a little more bondage and fear and start standing up for itself.
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