And what has Kamala Harris has to do with all this?
Yes, that’s also what I thought when I started writing this blog. How do I manage to mix together complete different stories in one blog? If you decide to read further I will do my best to clear the confusion that this clickbait title caused.
To get in the mood…
It’s dark outside when I wake up at 6 AM this Christmas morning. I need to get ready for my interview on Dutch national radio station NPO Radio 1. The day before I had a hectic photo and video shoot for a new client. I managed to get a new assignment, as a communication consultant, for eco-social organization ReCharkha. I promised them to deliver pictures to create brand awareness about their wonderful upcylced plastic waste products. I was pretty busy and in between I received an email if I had time to do a radio interview on Christmas morning.
NPO Radio 1
The topic that the National Radio Broadcast liked to discuss was Bollywood music. Can you imagine my surprise when they emailed me? It felt like a Christmas miracle. For 11 years I’ve dedicated my life to bring something new to the table in Holland when it comes to Indian music.
Listen to the radio broadcast (in Dutch language)
Maasai TikTokers Kili and Neema Paul playbacking on Bollywood songs. It was that angle that made me say YES!
BBC Interview Maasai TikTokers
BBC journalist Priya Sippy recently interviewed Kili and Neema who live in a remote village in Tanzania without internet connection. Still brother and sister manage to upload a good amount of joyful content. Not just Bollywood, they also playback on regional Indian film music. Which is great, because the Indian film industry has more to offer than Bollywood.
The desk researchers of Omroep Max, which develops programs for NPO Radio 1, were quite amazed about the BBC article and that Africans were lip-synching and dancing on Bollywood songs. But the actual fascination was the positive response that Kili and Neema received from Indians across the globe. As it happens the siblings have more than half a million followers on Instagram.
Bollywood is everywhere
India’s soft power: cuisine, fashion, films & music and cricket are known worldwide.
Indians take great pride in sharing their culture with others. These soft power elements are embodied in Bollywood films. Initially these films were made to give the working class hope and make them forget about their day to day struggles. That’s why the majority of films always have a happy ending and were infused with a great deal of music and dance. For sure the film industry evolved over the years and nowadays we see more films related to social topics. But even in those films the director manages to squeeze in dance and music.
The Indian Diaspora is the largest in the world. According to the United Nations India has a diaspora population of 18 million Indian people living outside India. The majority of migrant Indians choose to build a new life in US, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The United Nations refers to current events, but India has an extensive migration history. In fact, I’m a living part of this history.
Historical facts (boring)
To understand the popularity of India’s soft power we have to understand the historical context a bit more. We all know that the British and Dutch Empires had many colonies. In the 1600’s they initiated the East India Trading Company. The British had a strong control over India, and also had many colonies in Africa. By the end of the 19th century a group of 32,000 Indian migrants worked in Uganda on a train network. My ancestors left India in 1873 to work as indentured laborers in Suriname (South-America), and they were controlled by the Dutch Empire.
Over time the soft power from India silently expanded. Nowadays Indian Film Award shows are hosted in different countries, popular film stars tour the globe to meet fans and ethnic radio stations play a vital role in transmitting love for Indian music. Thanks to Social Media the soft power of India is at our fingertips; Easily accessible even in remote villages in Tanzania (Africa). Thus Indian culture is everywhere!
The face of Blindian: Kamala Harris
Now I’m coming to the clickbait title of this blog: Kamala Harris as the face of the Blindian Community. People from Indian origin are very proud of their culture i.e. soft power. They love it when non-Indians show their appreciation for their music and try to mimic songs. I really hope that the woke community won’t notice TikTokers Kili and Neema and red flag them on Social Media as cultural appropriators!
Hold on, I’m almost there to explain the title…
The love for Indian music and films is easy to explain without a historical context; The songs are catchy, trendy and Bollywood spends a lot of PR-money on marketing. It makes me jealous! I wish I had this kind of money to spend on promoting Independent Artists and Indian classical music.
More content celebrating the Blindian Community
During the radio program I mentioned the term ‘Blindian’. This term refers to a group of people with Black and Indian origins. The face of the Blindian community is American vice president Kamala Harris. Her father is a black man from Jamaica and her mother is a South-Indian woman. The representation of the Blindian community in the entertainment industry and media is growing. The Blindian pop culture can easily be found on Netflix. For example there is a series about fashion designer Masaba Gupta and a film named Namaste Wahala, which released in 2021.
Through the lens of this phenomena the attention for the charming Maasai siblings is more than logical. Bollywood filmmakers are interested to work with Kili and Neema. It seems like they have a bright Bollywood future ahead of them. The only thing that I can hope for is that the Maasai TikTokers will receive the opportunity to create meaningful content. This would help the Blindians to become more visible as a biracial community.
Netflix Top 10
To introduce the NPO Radio 1 listeners to Indian films on Netflix I’ve shared my Top 10 and I’m sure film enthusiasts would agree with me:
- Baahubali I
- Qarib Qarib Singlle
- Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo
- Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
- The Zoya Factor
- Namaste Wahala
As a promoter of Indian music I was extremely proud when the radio played a short piece of DesiYUP’s Hindi Cinema Classics with Navin Kundra and The515band, ft. Vasuda Sharma.