Bollywood Diplomacy

As if there weren’t enough grounds for Afghan-Pakistan animosity: the Times of India is trumpeting the success of Bollywood films in Kabul. While the West is a sought after destination for many in the subcontinent, India is seen as a desirable location by many Afghans. And all kudos for this positive perception goes to Bollywood ...

By , a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
606729_bollywood8.jpg
606729_bollywood8.jpg

As if there weren't enough grounds for Afghan-Pakistan animosity: the Times of India is trumpeting the success of Bollywood films in Kabul.

While the West is a sought after destination for many in the subcontinent, India is seen as a desirable location by many Afghans. And all kudos for this positive perception goes to Bollywood and Indian television. Almost all afternoons see a complete halt in any sort of work that happens in Kabul. Not because it's prayer time but because a familiar tune reverberates through the almost empty streets of Kabul. It's time for Zamane Khushu Hum Arush Bood, Dari name (Afghan-Persian dialect) for what we popularly know as Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.

India has generally tried to keep its diplomatic forays into Afghan affairs relatively quiet, but there's no hiding its booming cultural influence. 

As if there weren’t enough grounds for Afghan-Pakistan animosity: the Times of India is trumpeting the success of Bollywood films in Kabul.

While the West is a sought after destination for many in the subcontinent, India is seen as a desirable location by many Afghans. And all kudos for this positive perception goes to Bollywood and Indian television. Almost all afternoons see a complete halt in any sort of work that happens in Kabul. Not because it’s prayer time but because a familiar tune reverberates through the almost empty streets of Kabul. It’s time for Zamane Khushu Hum Arush Bood, Dari name (Afghan-Persian dialect) for what we popularly know as Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.

India has generally tried to keep its diplomatic forays into Afghan affairs relatively quiet, but there’s no hiding its booming cultural influence. 

David Bosco is a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of The Poseidon Project: The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.