Friday, June 25, 2004

The Power of Bollywood and India's "Soft Power"

If only we were more serious about tapping the enormous goodwill that Indian films, mainly Bollywood, have generated in West and Central Asia. I was reading a piece on BBC on how the filming of "The Rising" has bowled over Aychi, a tiny village in Tajikistan. The reporters say that many locals can sing numbers from Hindi films without knowing their meaning. It's like me singing hits of Fairouz or the Gipsy Kings.

Stakeholders, especially the Ministry for External Affairs, should exploit this "weapon of mass attraction". In a world full of terror diatribe and skewed priorities, films, music and the arts will surely give us a breather.

Even American policy makers have realised that much of America's goodwill, whatever little it has left, comes from Hollywood and its enormously popular pop culture worldwide. Books, songs and films out of America have inspired so many worldwide. It is a pity that their power is still neglected.


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