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Bollywood reigns in presidential banquet

The banquet President Hu Jintao hosted on Thursday for his Indian counterpart wasn't lavish by Chinese standards. But it was spiced up by Bollywood music.

world Updated: May 27, 2010 21:55 IST
Rahul Karmakar

The banquet President Hu Jintao hosted on Thursday for his Indian counterpart wasn't lavish by Chinese standards. But it was spiced up by Bollywood music.

The vegetarian Pratibha Devisingh Patil skipped the chicken soup with bean curd flakes and roast mutton chop with curry to concentrate on a gourd preparation and fruits. She also avoided the best wines - Red Wine Great Wall 2002 and White Wine Great Wall 2002 - from China's vineyards in Hebei area.

The President had no qualms about the music conductor Zhang Haifeng made the Chinese military band play in her honour, though.

The band played 10 numbers, five of them Bollywood hits. The selection betrayed China's discovery of AR Rahman after 30 years of a "cultural gap". And Slumdog Millionaire or Jai Ho had nothing to do with it.

The fourth number the military band played was Roza Jaaneman… from Mani Ratnam's 1992 superhit Roza. Between this song and the third the band played - Md Rafi's Bar bar dekho… from the Shammi Kapoor-starred China Town - was a 30-year leap. That China Town was released in 1962, the year Indo-China relations soured, was "coincidental".

The first song was, as a diplomat said, an "eternal Chinese favourite", possibly because it had a Chinese connection like the Shammi Kapoor film.

The band opener - Geeta Dutt's Mera naam Chin Chin Choo from Howrah Bridge (1958) - was filmed on Helen dressed as a Chinese dancer. It was followed by Lata Mangeshkar's Gore, gore, o baanke chhore… from Samadhi (1950).

But what left most diplomats stumped was the selection of a 'chanting' from an obscure film - Vasooli - as the fifth Indian number.