India's Bollywood plays starring role in Modi's re-election bid

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 10, 2019 - Duration: 02:01s

India's Bollywood plays starring role in Modi's re-election bid

Bollywood is playing a lead role in Modi's campaign for a second term, endorsing him on-screen and off, in both subtle and obvious ways, in a marked shift from the more transactional relationship Indian film stars previously had with politicians.

Megan Revell reports.


India's Bollywood plays starring role in Modi's re-election bid

This is one of three Bollywood blockbusters this year based on Indian prime ministers.

The biopic 'PM Narendra Modi' is due to be released Thursday (April 11), when the first votes are set to be cast in India's mammoth seven-round election.

The timing isn't coincidental.

Bollywood is playing a big role in Modi's campaign for a second term, endorsing him on - and off - the screen.

Earlier this year, actor Ranveer Singh posted this picture for his 22 million Instagram followers.

Likes garnered?

Three million.

That was snapped after one of at least four meetings held in recent months between Modi and dozens of Bollywood stars and filmmakers.

There, they were asked to talk about patriotism and Indian values in their films. Celebrities have always been crowd-pullers at the odd election rally.

But this is the first time they have been deployed as subliminal brand ambassadors, as Modi looks to leverage the soft power of Bollywood, and the huge influence it wields.

India's elections are the largest in the democratic world and people younger than 35 make up two-thirds of its 1.3 billion population.

So the Bollywood treatment could give Modi a much-needed boost.

He may have swept to victory in 2014 but, this time, anxiety in rural areas and concern over a lack of jobs could make it harder for his party.

India's main opposition is also trying to woo voters with the red carpet treatment.

A source told Reuters that filmmakers were invited to meet opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, who has his own biopic due this month.

But if he wants to compete with Modi's blockbuster PR, he may need to get a bigger billboard.

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