India's New Ruling Party to Encourage Films That Promote 'Cultural Values'

Yash Raj Films
Actress Kajol and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan in 1994's blockbuster "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge".

Several Bollywood stars won parliamentary seats for the Bharatiya Janta Party as Shah Rukh Khan and other celebrities tweeted about the election results.

The world's biggest elections resulted in a dramatic victory for India's conservative Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and its allies, which captured a majority of 337 seats out of a total of 543 in the country's parliament as final results were announced late in the week. The elections swept some Bollywood stars into the country's parliament and immediately led to debate about what how the new government would affect the country's film industry.

Led by prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the BJP is considered a Hindu nationalist party, which made history in India's elections by winning 282 seats on its own, the highest-ever for the party in the country.

As media outlets went into over-drive with non-stop election coverage, a report in daily newspaper The Hindustan Times quoted a BJP official as saying that the party's arts and culture experts are planning to create a department that would encourage the film industry to concentrate on "developing and promoting films [focused] on Indian tradition."

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“We have done the homework for developing  movies that are rich in cultural values,” the report quoted Mithilesh Kumar Tripathi as saying. "Many movies are released every week, but they are hardly able to portray Indian art and culture. Our attempt will be to showcase Indian social values through movies.”

Adding that there has been “a lot of degradation” in movies, Tripathi said that “movies are a powerful mode for disseminating Indian culture. We have a cultural trove. We need to highlight this in the movies. We have already started talking with many artists. The end result would be movies that can bring about a cultural awakening.”
Tripathi cited the example of one of India's most popular blockbusters, 1994's Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (Only The Brave Shall Take The Bride), produced by veteran Bollywood banner Yash Raj Films, whose recently established L.A.-based unit, YRF Entertainment, co-financed Cannes opener Grace of Monaco.

YRF is headed by Aditya Chopra who created box-office history with his directorial debut revolving around star-crossed lovers featuring actress Kajol and lead actor Shah Rukh Khan, who went on to become a superstar. “This was a movie, which revolved around the great Indian family. We need to have more of such kinds of movies,” Tripathi said.

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The elections also saw several Bollywood celebrities win parliamentary seats for the BJP, including actors Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha and Paresh Rawal along with actresses Kirron Kher and Hema Malini.

Celebrities also took to social media to congratulate Modi on his win. “End of era of feudal politics. Dynastic politics. A new India. A new opportunity. A new future. Let it not go waste Narendra Modi. Congrats,” director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) said on Twitter, also referring to the defeat of the Congress Party headed by the descendants of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

“BJP ... the first major blockbuster of the year! Huge opening and no sign of a Monday drop,” posted leading filmmaker Karan Johar.

Veteran actor Anupam Kher, whose international credits include Silver Linings Playbook and whose wife Kher won a BJP seat, retweeted the BJP's election slogan in Hindi: “Achche Din Aa Gaye (Good days are here). Jai Ho (Let victory be yours).”

And Shah Rukh Khan tweeted: “What a solid mandate given by the people. It proves again that the only constant is change. Now to move forward with strong & active faith, India."