More than six decades after Raj Kapoor and Nargis-starrer Shree 420 took Bollywood to Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, as a messenger of the Indian culture and values transcending distances between the two nations, it’s soft power could be felt to this day with the movie and its songs deeply ingrained into the people’s collective memory of Bollywood.
It was this soft power of Indian commercial cinema that recently made External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj admit to reporters in Delhi that “love and appreciation for Indian culture is visible everywhere in Uzbekistan. Indian dance, music, films, cuisine, costume and now yoga are very popular.”
The External Affairs Minister was on an official three-nation tour to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, when she met a Bollywood fan in the Central Asian republic. A video, which shows Swaraj bonding with an Uzbek woman, was later tweeted by MEA’s official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar and has since gone viral.
“Bollywood knows no boundaries! More so in Uzbekistan where Raj Kapoor and Nargis are household names. Salute to this Uzbek woman for her spirit as she hums the song ‘??? ???? ???? ????’ from the classic Shri 420!” he tweeted.
The famous song Ichak Dana Bichak Dana was sung by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar in the 1955 movie, which went on to become the highest-grossing Indian film of that year.