January 3, 2012

In 2012, every country that has global clout, and every country that aspires to that status, will use smart power — a combination of soft and hard power — to achieve national goals. India is not doing badly, but it has to brace itself for hard battles in soft power in the years to come.

Few Indian films have made as deep an impact in China since the days of Raj Kapoor as Rajkumar Hirani's 2009 film, 3 Idiots. The film struck an instant chord with China's famously overworked students, so much so that some Chinese universities were even prescribing the film in their coursework as a kind of stress-relief in their classrooms.

"It's been a tremendous experience to work in another country and be a part of the whole Bollywood process which is world famous. America and the rest of the world is fascinated with the whole Bollywood film industry and culture. I think it adds another layer of creative and cultural learning.

We know India’s military prowess but ignore its soft power: India has hosted the Asian Games twice, the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the Cricket World Cup in 2011 along with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Bollywood is the world’s largest film industry and in 2009 alone produced 2,961 films.

It's a country where Shah Rukh Khan remains hugely popular. If you walk around the streets of Bali, inevitably someone will ask you if you have seen Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The soft power of Bollywood is tangible in nooks and crannies of this vast country.

What character does the U.S. have in the fantastical lands of Bollywood? A handful of recent films have truly absorbed America into their land of dreams. They’ve ditched most of the stereotypes about corrupt, debauched Westerners seen in films from past eras...but they also creatively use American settings for stories that deal with the unique risks and freedoms of the 21st-century world.

In Morocco, I have come to experience India through two main elements: Bollywood movies and sari fabrics. Looking back at college, I remember borrowing an Indian movie DVD titled, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai from one of my friends... Watching Indian movies was a popular entertainment...

Advocating a more pragmatic approach, he wanted India to maintain cordial relations with the countries that would invest in India and help the country meet challenges such as food security, which was assuming a very grave magnitude.