The Soft Power of India, Bollywood, and the Khans

Many people don’t understand or underestimate that much of the soft power that India enjoys is primarily because of the Bollywood, its music, the Khans, for, they were the most popular actors in the past 2 decades, and that is when Indian cinema started to spread triggered by liberalization and Globalization reforms in the Indian economy.

Cinema is a powerful medium and is the face of India for the world. They are the ones which show the beauty of India’s chaos – abroad. They are the ones who show that India’s life is full of colors.

The same Shahrukh who is condemned today was responsible for motivating Indian Women’s hockey team post the movie “Chak de India”, through his powerful acting. Don’t forget the Social impact of his movie Swades had on NRIs.

Whenever I manage to strike a conversation with someone from different nationality, the focal point of conversation has always been about the Bollywood, the Khans, the divas of Indian Cinema, Amitabh Bachchan, and then came the food.

One of the things Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder liked in India was the movie “3 Idiots”.

What do you think is most liked one in Bolivia from India; it is the Bollywood and the Shahrukh Khan.

Power of Bollywood in Bolivia

Aamir Khan is immensely popular in China, more than couple of his moves earning several crores, the movie 3 idiots, is still loved there, and they recollect the movie in fondness.

Salman Khan receives similar praise in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

One has to go through this Quora thread, to know how much Bollywood is loved, esp the Khans. You will probably disrespect Bollywood lesser.

This is what an Indian journalist had to say about his visit to Iraq.

A local journalist who spoke only Arabic smiled and repeated Shahrukh, Shahrukh… every time he crossed my path during an interaction,” said a Indian journalist, who was part of an media delegation to Iraq, while highlighting the goodwill he experienced. Rasha Saeed, 26, who lives at a camp for those displaced due to Daesh terror, told the delegation Bollywood was the only thing she knew about India.”

The Foreign Policy website writes –

“Bollywood’s prodigious celluloid fare has long drawn huge audiences in significant parts of Asia, Africa, and beyond; and it’s the center of India’s rising soft power along with Indian philosophy attracting people from the West.”

Yale Global notes that –

India’s soft power worked its magic before without much government support. This is most notable in the case of Bollywood – the world’s largest film industry in terms of the number of films produced. Indian movies and music are watched and enjoyed in large parts of the world from the Middle East and North Africa to Central Asia. Yet Bollywood trails behind Hollywood in terms of its global reach. Previous governments did create new structures such as a new Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in 2004 to tap into the growing influence of Indian expatriates and a public policy division within the Ministry of External Affairs in 2006 to enhance cultural exchanges in support of official diplomatic engagements. India has failed to build its brand value abroad.

I do concede sometimes these stars may make unnecessary political statements or go overboard in stating the state of affairs from their comfortable environment, but they have their freedom of expression. We ought to condemn them, not resort to character assassination, they aren’t anti nationals, but as nationalists as any of us and in a position to do much more for India than the general populace.

Perhaps, we should worry more about Bollywood becoming a fiefdom of the powerful families by bringing their not so talented children in to the movies, and we haven’t had  govt to support or promote such a potential in the past, despite 70 years of Independence, we don’t have a Film Policy, so, instead, we should spend our energies on pressuring the legislators to bring about a National Policy on Films for furthering and strengthening the Industry and protecting the interests of small artists, giving the film makers freer hand to spread, instead of censoring movies and artistic expression.

The myriad emotions that Bollywood evokes and the chord it strikes across the border undeniably makes cinema the glue that binds people, transcending barriers of culture, geography, even a checkered past. While politicians mouth high-pitched rhetoric and spew anger and hatred on each other, Bollywood makes people laugh, cry and unleashes the triumph of soft power.

Probably, those who are living abroad can testify the number of questions they get on Bollywood, and how much proud they feel narrating the stories and talking about Indian cinema, dance and music.

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