Team 'Melodi' woos India as video goes viral

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Italy for the G7 summit, it was not diplomatic meetings that dominated headlines back in India, but the relationship with his Italian counterpart.

"Hello from the 'Melodi' team," Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a video posted to social media on June 15, waving next to her fellow right-wing leader Modi, beaming a wide grin.

The two have a close public friendship, seen during the G20 summit in India last year and the COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

Modi reposted Meloni's video on X and praised ties between Rome and New Delhi in Italian.

He wrote he had meetings with Meloni to bolster ties "in areas like commerce, energy, defense, telecoms and more."

But in India, it was the short Modi-Meloni video that grabbed attention on Sunday, fueling a flurry of memes and videos on social media dedicated to the fictional relationship between the two leaders.

In that make-believe world, the leaders have become central characters of an internet love story that has betrayals and heartaches as well as happy moments.

AI-generated videos watched by millions show Modi crooning a love song every time Meloni appears with a political leader other than him.

But newspapers were also deeply critical and swift to cool temperatures down.

"Like other women in high offices, Meloni is being seen through a male prism: Hot or not?" the Times of India's editorial read.

"No matter how influential she is, no matter what she knows or becomes, a woman can always be subjected to such demeaning framing," it added.

"As the Meloni discourse shows, old-fashioned misogyny dies hard."

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