THE POSITIVE POWER OF BOLLYWOOD

By

Sharada Iyer

The recently released film ‘Talvar’ by Meghna Gulzar has created such a buzz that not only did the Honourable President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee contact the director’s office and express his desire to see the film, but an online campaign has also been started on social media with a plea to the Chief Justice of India to re-open the case.

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(image source-Bombay Times)

The film has managed to create quite a stir both in the media as well as the public as it brings to light the unbelievable callousness of the investigating police officers involved which resulted in a lot of precious evidence being lost forever. The ego clashes of the two CBI groups have been laid bare for the public to ponder upon thus raising many questions regarding the hurried closure and judgement of the case.

It is indeed remarkable for a Bollywood film to have generated this kind of response …

The connection these film-stars have with the masses in our country cannot be defined or understood but its effects can be felt everywhere.

polioAmitabh Bachchan’s name is so magical that everyone wants to have him in all their campaigns and promotions…. As the UNICEF polio ambassador, Amitabh Bachchan has been the face of polio mass media campaigns for nearly a decade advising and persuading parents to ensure “do boond zindagi ki” (two drops of polio vaccine) to every child every time. When he comes on Television and tells us how ‘two drops’ or ‘Do Boond’ of the Polio Vaccine is enough to eradicate Polio from our nation, people sit up and listen to him and his face on the hoardings does more good for the polio eradication program than any government scheme imaginable.

In 2012, Amitabh Bachchan was conferred the Polio Eradication Champion award by Rotary International for his invaluable support to the Polio Eradication Programme in India.

maharashtra campaign
Maharashtra, with six tiger reserves, has 190 tigers as per the 2014 census. With his significant power over his million fans in the country, once again superstar Amitabh Bachchan has been roped in by Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar with a view to creating public awareness and help raising funds to protect our tigers from extinction. Amitabh has agreed to become the state ambassador for the ‘Save the Tiger’ campaign and promote tiger tourism and has sent a formal letter to the state government Monday accepting its proposal and invite.

ndtv campaignHe is already the brand ambassador of NDTV-Aircel ‘Save Our Tigers’ campaign raising his voice in concern for the endangered tiger. In December 2011, he was part of a 12-hr telethon session along with the channel’s chairperson Prannoy Roy and anchor Vikram Chandra. It was held at the Taj Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, to promote awareness and resulted in lots of contributions and donations by people all over India for various schemes under the campaign.

In 2003, few instances of worms found in the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolates generated a lot of negative publicity for the company. Not only did Cadbury revamp the packaging, they also roped in Amitabh Bachchan as their brand ambassador and the sincerity associated with his image helped them a lot in winning  back the confidence of their customers.

gujaratIn 2010, Gujarat Tourism signed an agreement with him and engaged him to be the brand ambassador of their state. Through the ‘Kushboo Gujarat Ki’ campaign, Amitabh Bachchan has not only projected various tourist destinations like Kutch, Dwarka, Somnath , Gir National Forest, Porbandar, Lothal, etc., he has also featured Gujarat’s rich tradition and various festivals like Kutch Festival.

Amitabh’s presence has made an invaluable difference as all these destinations are seeing double digit growth in tourist inflow including 30 per cent increase in foreign tourists…

Following a cue from Gujarat, Mamta Bannerjee, CM of West Bengal has decided to make Bollywood Superstar Shah Rukh Khan as the brand ambassador for West Bengal.  He will be promoting Bengal as “the sweetest tourist destination” in an ad film by the state tourism department to attract domestic and foreign travellers. Being the owner of ‘Kolkata Knight Riders’ an IPL team from the same state, his association with the state and its people is indeed special making him the perfect choice as an ambassador and his fan-following all over the world is bound to ensure that his campaigns will carry an overpowering weightage…

satyamevWith his program ‘Satyamev Jayate’, Aamir Khan created a revolution and attained the overnight status of ‘Messiah of the downtrodden’ and a ‘Champion of the masses’ in such causes hitherto not spoken of so openly and so unabashedly. His research department highlighted such alarming statistics in terms of female foeticide, child sexual abuse, alcoholism, dowry and wife-beating, etc., that it stirred the conscience of the whole nation at one go and so powerful was its socio-political impact that it elicited immediate response from the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh governments regarding their medical practices.

The gravity of the emotions in the program had a lot of impact not only in creating awareness but also in getting donations from all quarters and the philanthropic partner Reliance also contributed a substantial amount. This program alone has given Aamir an unprecedented fan-following who look upon him as their genuine friend and a sincere social crusader who wants to make a difference to the society.

For this very reason, the Union Ministry of Tourism decided to choose Aamir Khan as brand ambassador for their campaign of ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah’ at various platforms across the mass media. The campaign made quite an impact with Aamir appealing to the public to stop defacing national monuments and to be cordial to the tourists. The campaign captured the imagination of the masses because there is something very genuine when we see Aamir Khan telling us to correct our behavioural outlook towards our tourists and make the country proud by treating the guests with love, respect and warmth.

dp foundationEarly this year, top-actress Deepika Padukone surprised millions of her fans across the country when she came out in the open about her depression attacks and spread the message that it was nothing to hide about or be ashamed of and that it can easily be overcome with help from loved ones. With this in view she has started an NGO, ‘The Live Love Laugh Foundation’, which aims to spread awareness about mental health and offer help to those who are affected.

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(image source-ht cafe)

And now the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Devendra Fadnavis, has roped in Deepika Padukone to help out with the issue  of farmer-suicides in the State and her foundation may come to the help of farmers of Marathwada and Vidarbha.  Deepika has already instructed her research team to gather as much information as possible.

In 2011, Deepika Padukone  had the honour of representing India at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The focus of the World Economic Forum for the year was India and she had been specially invited to address world leaders there about the country’s richness, diversity and culture coupled with the growth that it has been witnessing lately. To bestow such an honour to a Bollywood celebrity truly speaks of the positive vibes generated by our Film Industry and its stars…

green mumbaiIn connection with ‘The Development Plan (DP) 2034’ by the Government and the Proposed Land Use for Aarey Milk Colony,  a bevy of Bollywood A-listers which included Aamir Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Riteish Deshmukh, Salman Khan, his father Salim Khan and lyricist Javed Akhtar  met on 29th March, 2015 at a meeting convened by MNS Chief Raj Thackeray. The controversial development plan (DP) has been objected by every strata of society in Mumbai and has come as a shock that the Proposed Land Use (PLU) for Aarey has been changed from Primary Activity, which is essentially dairy and fodder-growing grasslands to a residential and commercial zone. The Bollywood stars called for a dialogue between citizens and government to plan the vision for the city.

After her success in the film The Dirty Picture in 2012, Vidya Balan’s popularity caught the Government’s eye and she was roped in for two years as the first Brand Ambassador for the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to spread awareness about sanitation and cleanliness in the country. As part of the campaign, she promoted the construction and use of toilets in the country.

madhuri madhya pradeshIn 2014, actress Madhuri Dixit who is on board UNICEF as a celebrity advocate for child rights, was named ambassador for Madhya Pradesh’s campaign Mamta Abhiyaan, organized by the state’s health department. The campaign launched by Madhuri Dixit and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan aims to decrease maternal and infant mortality rate thereby saving the lives of new-borns and their mothers in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

At times Bollywood films have acted as brand ambassadors to forge India’s friendship between countries…

Who can forget the impact of the 1951 Raj Kapoor-Nargis starrer Awara in Russia?  This one film and its stars formed such an enduring bridge between the Indian and Russian people that the connection Raj Kapoor established with the Russians has been unbreakable till date. Awara has been amongst the first major instance of the international influence of Hindi cinema. The song ‘Awara Hoon’ was hummed by the children and even the leaders of Soviet Russia. Raj Kapoor continues to be loved in Russia and Bollywood inspires and entertains Russians till date.

Veteran filmmaker Yash Chopra, through his films, single-handedly contributed in embedding Switzerland so much in the hearts and minds of every Indian that it ended up being the most sought-after tourist destination in the world for Indians. Special ‘Yash-Chopra tours’ were organized by the tour-operators to take the tourists through all the spots where shooting of many of his films had taken place.

yash chopraFor his contribution in promoting Switzerland through his cinema and in promoting relations between India and Switzerland, Yash Chopra was felicitated with ‘Swiss Ambassador’s Award 2010’ as well as ‘Ambassador of Interlaken’ award in 2011 (for his outstanding contribution to tourism development in Interlaken).Together with the honorary Ambassadorship, Jungfrau Railways also named a train after Mr. Chopra in a grand ceremony and the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa named a deluxe suite after him.

More than a personal triumph for Mr Chopra, it is a triumph for the Indian Film Industry and its power to reach out and extend a hand of friendship to people across borders.

bb snapIMG-20151021-WA0015In July this year director Kabir Khan created magic with his movie Bajrangi Bhaijan starring Salman Khan and a little girl Harshaali Malhotra in major roles. It is the heart-tugging tale of an ardent Hanuman-devotee who meets a small mute girl from Pakistan who had by a quirk of fate been left behind in India during her short visit. His untiring efforts to re-unite the innocent child with her family and the difficulties he faces on both sides of the border form the crux of the narrative. The film reiterates beyond any doubt the similarity in the emotions and thought-processes of the common man on both sides of the border and their inner desire to end hostile relations and extend a hand of friendship to their neighbour.  IMG-20151021-WA0014The choice of Salman Khan in the hero’s role was the major binding factor. An actor of unparalleled charisma, he makes the whole thing so believable that one comes out of the cinema hall with a heartfelt smile and a lot of positivity.
The film also proved a boon for the ‘hearing and speech-impaired’ Geeta, an Indian girl who has been stuck in Pakistan for 13 years, unable to return to her home in India because she cannot remember or explain exactly where she is from. However following the film’s success, the Indian High-
Commissioner has taken a personal interest in her case…

During elections, parties rope in stars either as candidates or as supporters to win seats. The marriage between Bollywood and sports also results in sheer magic. kabaddi-1-1409057787Whether it is the much loved IPL or the recently formed ISL or Kabaddi  League, the games get a boost  thanks to the presence of Bollywood stars either as owners of some of the teams or as spectators when they come to cheer for their friends who are owners. Also the opening ceremonies become glamorous affairs with the dazzling song and dance programs by our stars.

Salman-Khan-on-Forbes-Magazine-CoverEvery year, Forbes India brings out a list of the ‘Top 100 Most Powerful Celebrities in India’. Celebs from all walks of life such as sports persons, actors, stand-up comedians, singers, music directors, authors and directors contend for the prestigious list and are ranked in the order of their power. Invariably not only are the first few spots held by a Bollywood star, but for the year 2013-2014, nine out of the top twelve celebs were Bollywood stars ,the other 3 being cricketers.(List-Salman Khan -Amitabh Bachchan-Shah Rukh Khan-Mahendra Singh Dhoni-Akshay Kumar-Virat Kohli-Aamir Khan-Deepika Padukone-Hrithik Roshan-Sachin Tendulkar-Ranbir Kapoor-Priyanka Chopra).

There is no denying the overwhelming influence and reach of our films and film-stars and the effect they have on the psyche of the common man in our country. The world of films seems to have a mesmerizing power to bind us in a unifying thread of our love for the stars and their on-screen persona which goes beyond our geographical boundaries and our religious and language barriers. They then become powerful vehicles to carry strong positive messages across the length and breadth of the country…

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9 thoughts on “THE POSITIVE POWER OF BOLLYWOOD

  1. Very nice Lata. As the heading suggests there truly is a lot of positive power out there in Bollywood, which has been wisely harnessed by many for good actions. As usual indepth research and flawless rendition, make for some captivating read!

    Liked by 1 person

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