New Delhi: The informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping was supposed to be an ice-breaker of sorts in the India-China relationship rocked by a tense military stand-off last year. And aiding the process were references to Bollywood and Bollywood songs—the latter, it seems carefully chosen by the Chinese side.
At a banquet hosted for Modi on 27 April, Chinese rolled out some Bollywood numbers one of which was the musical version of a 1982 romantic number Tu,Tu Hai Wahi Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha (You are the one the heart has identified as one’s own). The song—whose music was composed by R.D. Burman, is from the 1982 film Yeh Vaada Raha (this is a promise to keep), sung by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle for a sequence featuring Rishi Kapoor and Poonam Dhillon as a young in love couple.
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Modi, not a known movie buff, was however pleasantly surprised by the instrumental which was played towards the end of the banquet, a person familiar with the development said. “The song was chosen by the Chinese hosts possibly with inputs from their embassy in New Delhi. Our embassy in Beijing I don’t think was consulted on this," the person cited above said. A short video clip posted on Twitter shows Modi and Xi applauding the young women musicians playing the number.
“The Chinese played our song to welcome PM Modi along PM Xi in Wuhan. Honored. Thank you Pancham (RD Burman)!" said a tweet from Rishi Kapoor on Saturday which elicited this response from Modi “Pancham Da is a legend in the world of music. His work continues to enthral us."
This was not the only reference to Bollywood on the two day trip. Xi brought up the power of films and Bollywood to form a bridge between people of India and China during talks with Modi, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters in Wuhan on Saturday. “President Xi Jinping actually said that he has seen a number of Indian films, both Bollywood and regional, and that it would be a good idea to expand this and more Indian film should come to China and more Chinese film should go to India," Gokhale said. Bollywood films Dangal starring Amir Khan and Khan’s musical Secret Superstar besides Irrfan Khan starrer Hindi Medium have been making waves in China. Amir Khan starrers PK and Three Idiots have been the other big ticket Bollywood films breaking records in China.
This is the second time in recent days that the Chinese side employed Bollywood to welcome visitors from India. Indian External Affairs Minister who was in Beijing last week was entertained by Bollywood numbers like Sajna Ve Sajna(Dear, my dear) from the Kareena Kapoor starrer Chameli and Kehna Hi Kya from the 1995 Manisha Koirala starrer Bombay. The music for this song was composed by A.R. Rahman.
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Other gestures made by the Chinese side during the Modi visit included dressing banquet table with a runner sourced from Modi’s home state of Gujarat. The menu card designed for the occasion had a peacock emblazoned on it, the person cited above said.
India too has used the “soft power" of Bollywood as the backdrop for power lunches and dinners during heads of state and government visits. During prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit in January, one of the instrumental numbers played during the official luncheon hosted by Modi was Ichak Dana, Bichak Dana (one little seed, two little seeds) from the 1955 Raj Kapoor Nargis starrer Shree 420 – a song that had many in the Israeli official delegation turning their heads to listen, according to Indian officials. Raj Kapoor’s Mera joota hai japani (my shoe is Japanese) from the same film is said to be one of the numbers that still rings a bell in many countries in Central Asia.