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Indian Art Forms in International Festivals Through Sands of Culture Series

We sought new opportunities in Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain, working through agents and driving box office sales to make projects economically viable.

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It took some convincing to get the Edinburgh International Film Festival to agree to move Shah Rukh's
Thessaloniki International Film Festival hoarding, wikimedia commons
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In 1999, as part of a British Council showcase programme, I travelled to the Edinburgh Festival and that set in motion the idea of creating platforms for Indian contemporary and classical art forms across the world.

Working closely with the Festival Fringe, the International Film Festival, the Edinburgh Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Festival, we created an annual offering of work, enlarging our presence from six productions to 16 in a short period. Many thought we were mad, but our long-term objectives paid off in more ways than one. We presented an array of artists: Aditi Mangaldas, Daksha Sheth, Birju Maharaj and Malavika Sarukkai. Mrigaya, the world music group which went on to win the Herald Angel Award at Edinburgh in 2002 and a 5-star review from The Scotsman, Indian Ocean, Lillette Dubey and the Primetime Theatre Group, Adi Shakti, Lushin Dubey, Dadi Pudumjee and the Ishara Theatre Company, are some more names I recollect who were on our entourage. Shah Rukh Khan made his way to Edinburgh in a celebration of the best of Indian arts.

It took some convincing to get the Edinburgh International Film Festival to agree to move Shah Rukh’s “In Conversation” with Nasreen Munni Kabir to a larger venue. They cited examples of having presented the biggest stars, including Sean Connery, in a 300-seat venue. Tickets went on sale and sold out minutes after the box office opened, only to be resold at £100 a ticket! The news made it to The Times front page and the festival organisers, somewhat embarrassed, moved the venue to a 1,000-seat auditorium. Huge crowds gathered at the festival venue. At the after-party, we had to barricade Shah Rukh in a corner, with tables and bouncers guarding him. The Edinburgh festivals hadn’t quite seen something like this before! They were ignorant of work from India as very few shows had ever travelled out.

In 1999, as part of a British Council showcase programme, I travelled to the Edinburgh Festival and that set in motion the idea of creating platforms for Indian contemporary and classical art forms across the world.
Gulzar, Javed Akhtar and Prasoon Joshi at Jaipur Literature Festival, wikimedia commons

The year we presented Ishara Puppet Theatre’s “Transposition”, the infamous liquid bomb incident took place at Heathrow as we landed. Having being evacuated from the airport and shipped to Gatwick, we finally arrived in Edinburgh after a 16-hour delay, only to find that 24 of our 30 outsized puppet boxes and bags had been lost! Each day was spent at the airport warehouse searching for luggage. Five days and three cancelled shows later, the BBC ran a story on our predicament. Hours later, a passenger telephoned Dana Macleod, our coordinator in Edinburgh, to say strange-shaped bags were going around the carousel with stickers bearing her name. The show was back on the road!

Investments in shows and festivals in those early days meant that year-on-year, our balance sheets were red. Co-presenting with existing festivals led to some degree of success, with annual presentations in Singapore, Wellington, Perth and Melbourne. Much of this was a result of networking at the Edinburgh festivals and setting out a plan for collaborations, a strategy we adopted for the next few years. As our footprint grew through Asia to include Hong Kong, Korea and Indonesia, we began to look westwards.

Prompted by our then Consul General, Navdeep Suri, we set up the Shared History Festival in South Africa, to bring about an awareness of a new India and the many opportunities it offered, amongst the one-million strong Indian diaspora. We collaborated with the city of Johannesburg’s annual festival, Arts Alive, to bring about resurgence in the crime-infested Central Business District (CBD) area of New Town. The city planned to use the arts to re-populate the CBD and reduce crime and bring back the local populace. With audiences returning to theatres, New Town has now seen a rise in property prices, new businesses opening and residential blocks being re-built. In Durban and Johannesburg, the arts community and the diaspora who had earlier rejected everything Indian began rediscovering and celebrating their roots. Driven by their need to trace their history many have, since then, travelled back to India.

We sought new opportunities in Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain, working through agents and driving box office sales to make projects economically viable.

Working closely with the Festival Fringe, the International Film Festival, the Edinburgh Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Festival, we created an annual offering of work, enlarging our presence from six productions to 16 in a short period.
Shahrukh Khan was present in Edinburgh Film Festival wikimedia commons

We produced “Bollywood Love Story”, a musical, to reach new audiences. We were amazed to discover how small towns like Einbeck, Stuttgart, Eindhoven and larger ones like Florence, Barcelona and Stockholm had a huge appetite to celebrate and embrace Indian culture. Local arts-attending audiences came to our celebration dressed in Indian attire, belting out words of songs they didn’t understand and eating their versions of Indian food. Exporting Bollywood should be the mainstay of our foreign missions in order to capture hearts and minds of people across the world. From Russia to Egypt and China through Canada I have seen an increasing appetite to present and understand the best of Indian culture.

In today’s polarised world, it is imperative that we use the arts as a window into other cultures, traditions, history and a way of working. The arts know no language and have a universality that allows the viewer to seamlessly absorb and appreciate new experiences. A few years ago, the Globe Theatre, as part of the Cultural Olympiad, commissioned an array of exciting productions played out from Afghanistan and India to Romania and Belarus. Each was distinct and brought to the fore, cultural differences and yet was bound together by the universal language of theatre and performance. Audiences who attended may not have understood the nuances of the languages, but this did not detract them from enjoying what they were witnessing. Pia Behrupiya by Company Theatre was a brilliant piece of original stagecraft. Based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, the ensemble cast sang, danced and created magic at the Globe. Last year as part of “India70@UK” we were able to present some of the finest of contemporary theatre, dance and music at premium arts venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Theatre and the Globe.

As the Indian economy continues to grow, the world is curious about India and everything Indian. From exotic locations: Ladhak to Hampi and Ajanta & Ellora to Murshidabad and Varanasi, to a diverse, dynamic and an extremely alive cultural matrix, we have a lot to offer. India needs to create a counter-narrative to that of rapes, murders and religious extremism, absconding businessmen and less then scrupulous business practices that make headlines the world over. The arts can be an anchor for this emerging narrative; not only do they create jobs but also educate and enlighten.

Also Read: Two Men Jailed For Robbing an Indian in Dubai

As the third industrial revolution fades away and we look to the fourth, which will be the coming together of creativity and technology, India is well-placed to be a world leader. Unfortunately, our policies and government are yet to seize the moment and set in place incentives and a route map to the future.

(In our “Shifting Sands of Culture” series, Sanjoy K. Roy, the third of five noted personalities addresses the challenge of taking Indian arts abroad in this article written exclusively for IANS. Sanjoy K. Roy, an entrepreneur of the arts, is the Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, which produces over 25 highly acclaimed festivals across 40 cities worldwide and includes the world’s largest free literary gathering — the annual ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival) (IANS)

 

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Most Picked & Excellent Gift Ideas for Every Perfect Celebration

Let’s make it simple for you. This fun-loving and exciting gift is basically a treasure of memories.

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The gifts will be sure to put an excellent impression of yours and make them feel marvellous.

Gifts are one of the best things in the whole world that has the power to turn the atmosphere into a cheerful one. Getting a gift from your special one is one of the best feelings. When it comes to buying a gift for them, then you should pick something fantastic and marvellous. After all, they are unique to you. In search of the right gift, we often fall into the dilemma what to buy or not. Hey! There is nothing to be ashamed off as its quite common. In the big world of gifts, you are always welcomed with many options. The main motto of writing this article is giving you a clear image what will be liked by your dear one or not. We have curated a list of top rated and most picked gifts, fits for every celebration. The gifts will be sure to put an excellent impression of yours and make them feel marvellous. Go through the article and become the reason for someone’s smile.

Fashion accessories:

You’ll never go wrong with trendy and fashionable accessories. Everyone wears it, both boys or girls. We all love to look better than others. So, why not this time, help your dear one by gifting something some trendy and lovely accessories? So, what are you waiting for? Go for it! Buy a stylish wrist watch or perfume or ring and anything, you would like to gift to your close ones. If you want something elegant for special occasions, you can’t go wrong with this superb gift. You can present it as a perfect Diwali gifts or as a Birthday gift or at any special time. Go and get the accessory that you find best for your dear ones.

gifts
Fruity perfumes are ideal for summer, for a variety of reasons.

Personalized mug:

One of the most picked and favourite gifts. A personalised mug is something that you can buy for your dear ones without breaking the budget. But why are they so special? The thing which makes this gift so special is that it has the personal touch of your memories. You can imprint the favourite image of close one who is unique to you. You can come up with a fantastic gift by bringing a little twist to a simple mug. Isn’t this exciting idea to give your dear ones a special memory with something that they can use in their daily lives?

gift
Personalised Mugs

A flower bunch:

What about an idea of gifting a beautiful bouquet of flowers? Isn’t this interesting way to cheer up the mood of your loved ones? So, go ahead! Buy a lovely bunch of flowers for your dear one and bring a beautiful smile to their face whom you like the most in your life. Whether the arrangement is simple or elegant, present it to them. Pair the magnificent beauty of flowers with a delectable cake. Choose cake delivery from anywhere and anytime and present it with a fantastic bunch of flowers. This gift is something that can please the mind and soul of your dear ones in a lovely manner.

gifts
wers? Isn’t this interesting way to cheer up the mood of your loved ones? So, go ahead! Buy a lovely bunch of flowers for your dear one

Treasure trail:

Let’s make it simple for you. This fun-loving and exciting gift is basically a treasure of memories. It’s like a treasure hunt where every clue is hidden in the pirated theme or some other lovely themed of bottles and packed in a small box. Every box is complemented with a beautiful message to increase the fun element of the gift along with the next clue to continue the game. After solving the last clue, he or she could come up with the fantastic treasures comprising of chocolate and other delectable delights.