When Modi Met Akshay: Why the ‘chat show’ is such a positive PR exercise for PM Modi

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A few jokes, some heart-to-heart conversation, sprinkled with a few exaggerations here and there, amid a smooth stroll through the garden in bright sunlight — this is how friends meet.

And this is exactly how Prime Minister Narendra Modi met movie star Akshay Kumar at his residence for a ‘breather’.

In the build-up to the conversation, Akshay on April 23 tweeted: “While the whole country is talking elections and politics, here’s a breather…”

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Now, we are not claiming that Akshay and Modi are friends — just saying the whole ‘chat show’ looked like it was two friends meeting — with one of them extra eager to know about the other person’s life and the other one even more eager to share the details of his life.

Just like Gen Y, Modi and Akshay not just met but also put up the details of the chat, rather the whole chat, up online for others to know what they were up to.

As they chatted, they had their ‘

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Akshay asked Modi if he eats mangoes and the PM told him that as a child, he loved to climb trees and eat mangoes because he couldn’t afford to buy them. There are a lot of references to what Modi could not afford in this ‘apolitical’ chat.

As working people, we are also interested in knowing about how we manage time when our parents come over, so Modi tells Akshay that his mother got bored when she visited him in Delhi because, as the PM of the country, he could devote no time to her.

Mundane stuff?

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Not when it comes from the PM himself.

It’s not a Game of Thrones. Just a friendly chat! Narendra Modi with Akshay Kumar. (Source: Video grab)

A lot of people in this country continue to be in awe of Modi because, in him, they see a commoner who rose to occupy the country’s most powerful chair. They may or may not believe that he sold tea at some railway station — but they do see in him a man who had no dynasty backing him. Of course, businesses came round to back him later but that he reached that point himself is what makes millions in the country respect him deeply.

His ‘simplicity’ is something he loses no opportunity to emphasize because he knows there are a lot of takers for it.

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For those who didn’t know, Modi donated Rs 21 lakh for the daughters of his staff when he left Gujarat for a bigger role in Delhi. The only money he kept with him was an amount needed to pay advocates for the cases slapped against him.

Many swear by Modi’s personal integrity — it is for this reason that charges of personal corruption slapped against Modi in the Rafale controversy could not hold. This is also the reason why ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ was quickly lost in the resonance of ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’.

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It is election time, so, just in case someone forgot that Modi has been working tirelessly for the country, the chat show will help act as a reminder.

Modi sleeps for 3.5 hours every day and then works through the day. His ability to work with limited sleep, the ‘chat show’ tells us, is something that even former US President Barack Obama admires.

The reference to Obama is particularly intriguing — Modi tells Akshay about his deep camaraderie with Obama, and friendship so close that they apparently refer to each other as “tu”.

Now a Gujju boy would know Hindi having spent a lot of time in north India — but Obama?

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One may or may not believe a lot of things that Modi tells Akshay during the interview, but it is undeniable that the chat is a masterstroke when assessed as a PR exercise.

While Modi has been acerbic and unsparing in his attacks on political opponents during his election rallies, the chat aims to show the other side of the PM — what drives him, what riles him, what interests him and what infuriates him?

Modi claims he does get angry but never takes it out on anyone.

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And the ‘chat show’ isn’t just about Modi — it also has titbits about Akshay Kumar’s life.

Want to know how Akshay handles his anger or hear some jokes on Gujjus?

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Author: Vandana. This was first published in DailyO.  Compiled by Shams Ahmad

Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi

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