BDS affiliates in India have accused Israel of exploiting Bollywood to improve its global image, after Israeli PM took “selfie” on stage with legendary movie star Amitabh Bachchan, while visiting Mumbai.
Activists made the claims after the Israeli government staged an outreach event titled “Shalom Bollywood” on Thursday, in a bid to entice Indian directors and producers to film their movies in Israel.
Senior figures from India’s film industry, including Bachchan and his daughter in law, Aishwarya Rai, attended the event.
Protests took place outside the event hosted in Mumbai, the home of India’s cinema industry.
Apoorva Gautam, who heads the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign in South Asia, said that Israel’s appeal to Bollywood was reflective of a broader “ideological shift” in the country since the election of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in 2014.
India’s film industry is the largest in the world and worth billions of dollars.
According to Days of Palestine, Israel has run similar film collaborations with other countries in an attempt to improve its global image, including an initiative with Chinese cinema when its tourist industry suffered, following its assault on Gaza.
The event was part of a six-day state visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India, which saw him visiting several cities across the country and meeting with Modi.
Bachchan claims to have no political affiliation but has been the face of several Indian government campaigns.
Plans to make Bachchan the brand ambassador for “Incredible India,” a global marketing campaign run by the Indian government to attract tourists to the country, were delayed after his name appeared in the Panama papers.
Imtiaz Ali, another notable Bollywood figure, was also pictured with Netanyahu on Thursday. He directed the Bollywood film drive, funded by the Israeli Ministry for Tourism, and filmed in Israel.
Netanyahu is the second Israeli PM to visit India. His trip comes after Modi was the first Indian leader to visit Israel in 2017.