Shah Rukh Khan made Timorese rediscover love

Bollywood movies and its stars have made their mark far and wide and the Southeast Asian nation of Timor-Leste is no exception. Located between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, the influence of Bollywood can be felt in every corner of this tiny island nation, so much that the people openly admit that superstar Shah Rukh Khan taught them how to love.  

Also known as East Timor, the state acquired its sovereign status just a decade ago in 2002.

"The road to our freedom was long and traumatic. We Timorese knew about love, but we had forgotten it in the midst of conflict. It was Bollywood and especially Shah Rukh Khan who taught us the real meaning of love," Hugo Garcia, an officer with the foreign ministry of the country told an IANS correspondent.

Hugo also sang songs from Shah Rukh’s hit film ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’. Other Timorese were also heard crooning Hindi songs.

The officer revealed that the nation got its first taste of Hindi films in 1999 when an Indian architect showed them Shah Rukh and Kajol starrer film ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ in the only movie hall in the country.

“At that time, the population of Timor would have been 80,0000 and believe me or not the entire population saw this movie. There was not a single person, who was not singing its famous songs," he said.

Hugo said that though ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ - another Shah Rukh blockbuster - was released before ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, they saw it only later. The two other movies of the actor that they viewed were ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ and ‘Kabhi Khushi, Kabhie Gham’.

"Shah Rukh ruled our hearts by that time. He was clearly the king of romance. After seeing these movies during our dark hours, we got to understand the meaning of love. The movies showed us how to respect a woman, about sacrifice and how to have courage," he said.

A woman named Gaqualena Horta recalled how she went to Indonesia with her parents when the lead actors of ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ had come to promote their movie.

Abrao Gubterres, who teaches the native language Tetum to foreigners working mostly in various UN bodies, loves Hindi songs and leaves no chance to sing them. "I know all Shah Rukh Khan songs," he said, as he started singing one after another.

"He is god for many Timorese. We wish he could come and visit this nation. He will be surprised to see that the entire country has turned up to see him. After all, he taught us love and romance at a time when we needed it to guide us to keep us alive and sane and also to dream of a better future," he said about the Bollywood ‘Badshah’. 

Post independence, Timorese got a chance to watch Bollywood movies more often. The get CDs and watch latest songs on YouTube. They also love to see movies of Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan.