Modi-Xi Bollywood connect: Focus on culture in India-China relations

Heart-to-heart talk, with a 1982 Bollywood romantic number… The informal summit meeting between the leaders of India and China in the picturesque lakeside environs of Wuhan placed culture and creative communication at the heart of their relationship.

The meeting culminated in a big picture view of greater harmony and balance in India-China relations, with both sides identifying enhanced cultural exchanges as an important aid in widening the arc of understanding between the two Asian powers.

This was encapsulated in the musical rendition of the 1982 Bollywood song ‘Tu, tu hai wahi dil ne jise apna kaha,’ which both Modi and Xi Jinping were found enjoying it. A beaming Modi appreciated this thoughtful choice of the song that evokes emotions of love, oneness and lovers vowing to keep promises.

In his informal tete-e-tete, the Chinese leader told his Indian guest that he has watched and enjoyed many Bollywood and regional Indian films, with PM Modi nodding his head appreciatively. Given the power of films to shape public perception and create cultural connect, the two sides decided to promote greater collaboration in films and the creative arts.

Aamir Khan, the connector

The two leaders agreed that more Chinese films should come to India and more Indian films should be seen in China, said India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale after the end of the informal summit in Wuhan on April 28. The two sides focused on promoting greater cultural and people-to-people exchanges, said Mr Gokhale.

Bollywood films like Three Idiots, Dangal and Secret Superstar have become roaring hits in China. Aamir Khan is a common thread in all these films. India is planning to appoint Aamir Khan as brand ambassador to China. China has hailed this move. “We all know that Aamir Khan is a famous Indian actor. Many Chinese people, including myself, have watched his film Dangal which tells the inspirational story of how Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters strived and persisted until their dream came true,” said China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying.