The next time you take Bollywood lightly, spare a thought for India’s soft power. A journalist who travelled through the troubled spots in war-torn Syria, particularly the world heritage town of Palmyra, has written a fascinating account of his travel in that nation and how it was Shah Rukh Khan who saved him every single time.
“Whether I went to Palmyra or any other area in Syria, if you are in trouble Bollywood is the best bet for you. All your local contacts can fail you. Even permission given by the Syrian government may not impress the army on the road. He might not like your face and you may end up sitting or standing depending on the situation. What saves you is Bollywood,” writes Kartikeya Sharma.
He goes on to say how his car was stopped at every post, he was asked to identify himself time and again. Whenever he would say he is an Indian, most of the soldiers would tell him: “Give my regards to Shah Rukh Khan or we love Shah Rukh Khan.” Katrina Kaif, Karisma Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan would also crop up in their conversations.
Syrians seemed genuinely interested in the personal life of Amitabh Bachchan’s son Abhishek Bachchan and his equation with wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Many a times, they would ask him about Amitabh’s son’s equation with his wife, Aishwarya Rai. “Many asked me about Amitabh Bachchan’s son. His name. His equation with Aishwarya Rai… For those moments I felt that I owed Bollywood.”
Shah Rukh is among the most popular and recognizable Indian stars abroad. He has fans from Morocco to Germany and is considered a true “global ambassador of the Indian cinema”. In some regions, he enjoys as much popularity, if not more, than leading Hollywood stars.
This article was first published on http://www.wakeuppost.com.