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What do you get when an Israeli arms company produces a Bollywood-style dance film? Well in the case of the government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the answer is what is being described in the blogosphere as possibly one of the worst marketing films in history.
The film, produced by Rafael for the Aero India expo held in Bangalore last month, features actors in full Bollywood costume singing in English about bolstering Indo-Israeli defense ties. Israel recently overtook Russia as the main defense supplier to India after breaking the $1 billion mark in new contracts signed annually over the past two years.
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In August, the Indian Ministry of Defense approved a $2.5b. joint IAI-Rafael deal to develop a new and advanced version of the Spyder surface-to-air system.
Later this month, India is scheduled to receive the first of three new Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) developed for the Indian Air Force by IAI. The sides are in talks for the possible purchase of another three AWACS.
The Danger Room blog on the Wired Web site called the film possibly the "most atrocious defense video of all time."
The FlightGlobal Web site called it a "catastrophic collision of Bollywood and the arms industry."
In the film, one male and several sari-clad actresses are seen dancing next to different Rafael missiles. The woman sings: "I need to feel safe and sheltered. Security and protection. Commitment and perfection. Defense and dedication."
The male singer then joins in, and together they sing: "Together, forever, I will hold you in my heart. Together, forever, we will never be apart."
The man, apparently representing Israel, then sings: "I promise to defend you. Fulfill your expectations. Shield you and support you. Meet my obligations."
The Danger Room blog said the text implied that the "Indian military is somehow like a helpless woman who needs to feel safe and sheltered."
Rafael dismissed the criticism of its film and said that it made movies with a local theme for every international defense expo. A movie, one company source said, made for a defense expo in Brazil focused on soccer and weapons. Another movie, for a US audience, focused on football.
"We try to make the movies about the place where the defense expo is located," the company source said, adding that in previous years Rafael had won prizes for its pavilions and marketing techniques.