In a day and age when the application of armed forces to resolve disputes between countries becomes less probable, the concept of "soft power" takes on a life of its own. Amongst the tools of political influence, the role of cinema as a soft power cannot be undermined. Bollywood’s ability to shape narratives in the course of diplomacy gives soft power a whole new connotation and also redefines "the best propaganda is not propaganda" dictum.

Kabali was released in 8000-10,000 screens across the world. That scale is astonishing given that India’s soft power has largely been powered by the popularity of Hindi cinema and Bollywood.

Daya Kishan Thussu’s Communicating India’s Soft Power: Buddha to Bollywood (Sage, 2016) is a rare resource on the subject of the country’s ‘soft power’. As the author himself claims, “on the soft power of China itself there are at least half a dozen books published in English – many more in Mandarin – while in the case of India the terrain is blank, despite its large array of soft power elements”. 

“You are the symbols of India’s soft power. You are the unofficial ambassadors, the cultural ambassadors,” Indian President Pranab Mukherjee told expatriates in Windhoek, Namibia, last week. The Southwest African nation has barely 300 expatriates, a miniscule part of a 30 million diaspora spread globally that is being rallied as never before. Mukherjee chose this motley group of businessmen and professionals to propose “a new relationship” with the entire continent of Africa. 

With Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Iran, there's been lots of talk in Delhi about the relationship between our two countries. But for me, a holiday I had in Iran last year told me more about our middle eastern neighbour than any political pundit could.

The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) announced the 17th edition of the most spectacular celebration of Indian Cinema worldwide that will occur in the capital city of Madrid, Spain from June 23-26, 2016. This year, the IIFA Rocks stage will include noted music director-composer-singer Pritam who is performing with Spanish artistes as a once-in-a-lifetime on-stage production.

Much of diplomacy happening between India and Pakistan is "cultural diplomacy", former foreign secretary Shyam Saran today said and credited Bollywood as one of the binding factors in forging people-to- people ties between the two countries. 

The Latin American region already identifies with India through its pop culture, so India needs to capitalise on this goodwill to deepen its diplomatic relations with the region. [...] Bollywood resonates in Latin America and helps promote feelings of goodwill to India, which can leverage it for its public diplomacy in the region.