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There's a back story to Barack Obama's DDLJ quote

entertainment Updated: Jan 28, 2015 15:55 IST
Jyoti Sharma Bawa
Jyoti Sharma Bawa
Hindustan Times
Barack Obama


Barack Obama, his speech writers and spin doctors have had some tough decisions to make these past few days. They watched films upon films from Bollywood and brainstormed whether 'Barack Obama, naam to suna hi hoga' sounded better than 'Ek baar jo maine commitment kardi to main Pakistan ki bhi nahin sunta'.

They spent sleepless nights, googled the best punchlines in Hindi cinema and, unsatisfied with the answers, googled them again. They had a tough call to make after all. Narendra Modi threw the gauntlet at POTUS when at Madison Square Garden, with Hugh 'Wolverine' Jackman by his side; he said the most epic line of them all, "May the force be with you".

Modi could have said, "Modi, Narendra Modi", and sounded ineffective because he wasn't wearing a tux. He could have said, "I am making you an offer, you can't refuse," and completely failed because he would not have sounded as if there's a goat struck in his throat. Instead he chose a line that made the crowds go hysterical.

Obama was quite aware what he had signed up for when he accepted Modi's invitation to visit India. The war of the punchlines and the rockstar treatment Modi got in the US was not far from his mind when he called Modi a 'Bollywood star' upon arriving in India.

Once upon a time, heads of state talked about policies and aid packages, strategies and state of nations. Now, they have to do all that and pepper it with pop references. So, Obama may tell us what binds the world's largest and oldest democracies together, but he had to serve it with a dash of Shah Rukh and tie it all up with, maybe, some Aamir.

And, given his reputation as one of the world's best orators, he needed to outdo Star Wars as well. So, if you saw Caucasian men and women in Delhi recently with red rimmed eyes who went around feverishly mumbling Bollywood dialogues, you now know who was pushing them.

Finally, the consensus was reached and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge's 'Senorita, bade bade deshon mein…' was decided. Just to add some je ne sais quoi, the President ended the dialogue with 'you know what I mean'. We know sir, we exactly do.

Now that the pop reference was decided on, Obama must have worked hard on its delivery as well. That's because even though he flubbed Swami Vivekananda's name and Jai Hind during the address, he delivered the line with a practiced ease which will do Shah Rukh Khan proud.

A little bit of hamming and we could have been looking for an epithet - badshah, bhai, emperor… -- that goes best with Obama.

But that's a line of thought we better leave to the social media (Twitter is hard at work, see below for some suggestions), but as of now Obama has wowed India and the very active SRK fan network - in India and the US - is saying that this most decidedly makes the actor the biggest star in the globe.

But what about Modi vs Obama war of words? So, who is the best orator with most pop references ever? Oh, the jury is still out on that.

How Twitter reacted…

@GabbbarSingh: To repay Modi's move to quote a Star Wars line, Barack Obama quotes a line from DDLJ - "Senorita, Bade bade shehro me..."

@priyal: He quoted DDLJ. Surely winning the next Filmfare Award for Lifetime Achievement #Obama

@chhabs: Seriously? #DDLJ? Who hell is advising @BarackObama? I didn't vote for this guy twice so that he would become a #DDLJ fan!

@cyclopsee: Obama has just ensured that #DDLJ will run uninterrupted for another TWENTY years at the MarathaMandir. #ObamaQuotesDDLJ @iamsrk