When The ‘Force’ Met ‘Bade Desh’: Decoding Obama’s DDLJ Moment At Siri Fort

On his second date with India, the charmer in US President Obama was at his wittiest best – and as always! He clearly knew he was going to win a lot more audience when he held the Indian pulse after quoting a line from Bollywood. Suddenly, the US President had a metamorphosis when he turned into a ‘phoren president’ to someone who had a deeper understanding of India.

Though Obama is famous for his inspirational speech and the most stunning manner in which he delivers his words, this was much beyond anybody’s imagination. The second term President of America, held the Indians by their pulse.

He knows India and Bollywood are inseparable as identities. Mention one, and chances are you will be mentioning the other too without actually spelling it out.

At his last official speech which was delivered at Siri Fort in New Delhi, Obama was at his charming best. He sent home a few crucial messages, while touching upon some serious aspects of religious intolerance that’s gradually beginning to gain ground in the country.

His speech in front of the most rapturous audience began with a ‘Namaste’ and continued into a ‘bahut bahut dhanyavaad’. Recalling his previous visit, he referred to his visit to a few NGOs where he and his wife Michelle Obama had broken into a jig or two. This time however, he said: “we couldn’t schedule any dancing..”

Then came the super hit line from DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge), in his deeply conditioned American baritone voice (minus any drama, unlike the Bollywood film in which this line featured) – “you know how it is…Bade Bade deshon mein…”

And the audience broke into a thunderous applause. Clearly, he had held India by its very pulse.

Now, did he feel the need to match the rapturous appearance Prime Minister Modi made at Madison Square Garden in NY, during his visit last year to receive the welcome of a rockstar? Modi had arrived when he signed off his deeply connecting speech with the famous lines from Star Wars. He had said: ‘May the force be with you’ to a gathering of highly emotional audience at Central Park in New York.

Coming back to Obama’s visit, he spoke of the racial discrimination he faced on the land of his home country, the questions that were raised about his faith and religion. Basically, his humble beginnings and how everyone’s humble beginnings mattered. Only, what made the difference was whether one was strong enough to ensure they visualized their dreams and turned them into a reality.

Referring to Prime Minister Modi’s humble beginnings to his journey that has taken him to the seat of PM, Obama said: “Even if we live in a world of terrible inequalities, there’s hope that a tea seller can become PM.”

His speech was particularly inspiring for the youth whom he referred to, in his speech time and again, urging them to speak up, fight for their rights and ensure the country was a safe place for everyone – including women.

“Young women today are part of new generation making your voice heard, standing up, determined to play your part in India’s progress. Young Indians are not only going to shape India, but the world,” he said.

Stressing on the significance of safety of women across the world, Obama said “Nations are more successful when their women are successful,” he said, rather jocularly adding, “I am surrounded with strong women such as my wife Michelle and my daughters Malia and Sasha.”

On a more serious note, Obama sent a timely warning for India against giving into religion-fuelled intolerance. “No society is immune by the dark impulses of the man. More often, religion is used to tap into it,” he observed.

Sharing his dream of strengthening Indo-US ties, building a diplomatic relationship between nations that would be without any nuclear weapons, a distinct bond between countries that’s built on trade and trust and not doubts and hatred, Obama said countries like India need to embrace cleaner fuels to tackle climate change.

There’s been a lot of bonhomie on Delhi streets since the last two days, despite the traffic snarls and an almost shut down of the capital gifting the people a long weekend this winter. US President Obama who visited India as the guest on Republic day with his wife Michelle Obama in tow has clearly created waves of excitement among Indians and NRIs living in America with his charming ways of conveying how well he understands India.

The most pulsating moment to come closer to this time of celebration came around his last address in India, before he departed on the return journey.

Image: Indiatimes
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