Author Fatima Bhutto begins her newest book by looking at a hero of Bollywood inema, Shah Rukh Khan.
"Today, Khan, though still little known in the West, is one of the icons of a vast cultural movement emerging from the Global South, including Turkish soap operas and Korean pop music," Bhutto explains. "Truly global in its range and allure, it is the biggest challenge to America's monopoly of soft power since the end of the Second World War."
In New Kings of the World: Dispatches from Bollywood, Dizi, and K-Pop (206 pgs., Columbia Global Reports, 2019, $15.99), Bhutto explores these issues and more. As Bhutto explains, the international success of American products was due in part "by massive migration to urban areas, the rise of the middle class across the Global South, and increased connectivity." Bhutto reminds the reader that at the height of the States' military presence in 1968, over one million U.S. soldiers were stationed across 54 countries. That number has decreased to less than 200,000 today. "One might argue that as troop numbers decrease, so too does American cultural dominance," she muses.
The first half of the book follows the movement of Shah Rukh Khan across the Global South, providing an overview of Bollywood's development and tracking the ardent fandom of the Indian actor.
The second half of the book focuses on the growth in production and distribution of Turkey's drama series, followed by a brief foray into Korea's pop music industry.
Bhutto starts with the state of the TV industry in Pakistan, describing how just when the country's content pipeline was underway...