Vedas to Vivekananda, DDLJ to Sachin: Donald Trump goes full desi
From quoting Swami Vivekananda to referencing Sachin Tendulkar and the Bollywood classic Sholay, US President Donald Trump’s speech at a massive rally in Ahmedabad on Monday was clearly aimed at striking the right chords with an Indian audience.
“As the great religious teacher Swami Vivekananda once said, ‘the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him, that moment I am free’,” he said while addressing a mammoth crowd at the Sardar Patel Stadium on Monday.
“In America and in India, we all know that we are born for a higher purpose to reach towards our fuller potential to work toward excellence and perfection and to give all glory to God.”
For a leader known to prefer speaking extemporaneously, Trump stuck to the script, drawing loud cheers for every reference to movies, cricket, Indian leaders such as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and festivals such as Holi and Diwali.
Hailing the “genius” of the Hindi film industry and recalling two all-time favourites, “Sholay” and “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” (DDLJ), the US president said people “take great joy” in watching Bollywood films.
“This is the country that produces nearly 2,000 movies a year from the hub of genius and creativity known as Bollywood,” he told the gathering of about 100,000 people packed into the stadium.
“All over the planet people take great joy in scenes of bhangra, music and dance, romance and drama, and classic Indian films like ‘DDLJ’ and ‘Sholay’,” Trump said. While the 1975 multi-starrer “Sholay”, labelled a “curry western” by many, is an action-adventure film that has stood the test of the decades, the 1995 Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol-led “DDLJ” is an out and out romance. This is not the first effort by the US president to use popular culture to strike a chord with movie loving Indians.
There was also praise for India’s embrace of freedom, liberty, individual rights and the ability of “millions upon millions of Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Jews [to] worship side by side. Without naming China, Trump also said India’s rise is an example for every nation and “all the more inspiring because you have done it as a democratic country, as a peaceful country...as a tolerant country and...as a great, free country”.
Trump said: “There is all the difference in the world between a country that seeks to claim power through coercion, intimidation and aggression, and a country that seeks to grow by setting its people free and unleashing them to chase their dreams, and that is India.”