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America wanted Bollywood as ally in war against terror

The US once thought Bollywood might do a better job of reaching out to UK Muslims than their own government, and even spoke to some actors and executives, according to a leaked US state department cable. Yashwant Raj reports.

world Updated: Dec 15, 2010 01:56 IST
Yashwant Raj

The US once thought Bollywood might do a better job of reaching out to UK Muslims than their own government, and even spoke to some actors and executives, according to a leaked US state department cable released on Monday.

“Bollywood actors and executives agreed to work with the US government to promote anti-extremist messages through third party actors and were excited about the idea of possibly partnering with Hollywood as well,” said the cable sent by the US embassy in London in October 25, 2007.

But it was not clear on the follow-up action.

The suggestion to involve Bollywood came on a tour of the UK by the then senior advisor to the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, Farah Pandith, in 2007. Pandith is now a special representative in the state department for Muslim affairs.

Fifty-two people died in a terrorist attack on London’s metro system in 2005 while other attempts were foiled in the next couple of years. All these were reportedly carried out by “home-grown” terrorists.

On the tour, Pandith held talks with government officials, civil society experts, members of the Muslim community and “a cross section of the South Asian community working in film” to discuss the potential of working with Bollywood on “delivering an anti-terrorism message”, the cable said.