Millions of Chinese people who have been subjected to the feared lockdowns have turned to Bappi Lahiri’s superhit song “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja” from the 1982 film “Disco Dancer” to convey their outrage and despair at the country’s strict zero-COVID policy.
The song composed by Lahiri and sung by Parvati Khan is sung in Mandarin “Jie mi, jie mi,” which translates into “Give me rice, give me rice,” by people in the films mockingly presenting empty vessels to illustrate how they are denied of critical food items during the lockdowns.
So far, the video has escaped Chinese censors, who are fast to erase any post considered unflattering of the country’s regime. From the days of cinema great Raj Kapoor in the 1950s and 1960s to recent years, films such as “3 Idiots,” “Secret Superstar,” “Hindi Medium,” “Dangal,” and “Andhadhun” performed remarkably well at the Chinese box office.
According to observers, the Chinese have devised a clever way of using “Jie mi, jie mi” to stage soft protests in order to emphasize the public outcry over the zero-COVID policy, which has effectively cut China off from the rest of the world.
China has been stymied by the zero-COVID policy, which has kept dozens of cities, including Shanghai, with a population of over 25 million, under lockdown for weeks, with residents confined to their apartments. Hundreds of recordings have surfaced showing security officers harshly repressing people protesting the lockdowns.
Workers assembling Apple Inc.’s newest iPhone staged a walkout from a facility in Zhengzhou, central China, following a virus epidemic and complaints about unsafe working conditions. According to reports, workers began leaving the Foxconn factory when some became unwell in mid-October and were not treated.
China reported 2,675 cases on Sunday, an increase from 802 the previous day. Under President Xi Jinping’s zero-COVID policy, cities and communities are subjected to severe lockdowns, and residents are relocated to quarantine centers whenever positive cases are reported.
Testing is required for all citizens in practically every city, including Beijing. People in cities cannot enter public venues, including restaurants and markets unless they have negative test results.
In Rest of the World
Even now, Russians know and sing Disco Dancer tunes. B Subhash, the film’s director, was even invited to the Moscow Film Festival for its screening in 1983.
When then-Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited India in the 1980s, Rajiv Gandhi, then-Prime Minister, allegedly introduced him to Amitabh Bachchan, India’s biggest superstar. “But my daughter knows Mithun Chakraborty,” Gorbachev said.
The only other actor who was so beloved by the Soviet Union was Raj Kapoor. As a tribute to the song, Moscow has a karaoke bar. Jimmy Poy is the name. Another country that admired Jimmy Jimmy was Russia, which viewed Disco Dancer, the highest-grossing foreign picture in the Soviet Union, prior to its breakup and during the Cold War.
While Japan erected a statue of Jimmy in Osaka, the song was also featured in the action comedy You Don’t Mess With Zohan, starring Adam Sandler (2008). Maya Arulpragasam, a British singer of Sri Lankan heritage known as MIA, recorded her version of the song in 2007.
Separately, Lahiri was honored in 2018 by London’s World Book of Records for his contribution to the global success of this song.
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