‘Baat se baat banegi’ - Let’s talk India-UK Creative Industries@75

In the project's first blog, Co-Investigator Dr Vishal Chauhan outlines the fruitful possibilities of baat-cheet or talking and networking between India-UK artists as part of our creative endeavours.

India is turning 75 this year. India was a British colony, and on 15th August 1947, India got its independence. The Indo-UK relationship is more than 700 years old, and the cultural ties go beyond that. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Innovate UK Research commemorate the relationship between these two great democracies on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Indian independence. Our project titled India Creative Industries at 75: Challenges and Opportunities is a part of this yearlong celebration of funded projects.

Our project aims to strengthen ties by reaffirming cultural connections between the two countries, especially via the Indian diaspora. The Indian diaspora has a vibrant presence in the UK; many are now second and third generation British-Indians. They are indeed connected with Indian ethnic and cultural roots, but these linkages need reassurance and care at times. This project facilitates the cultural associations across three fields from the creative economy – Screen Industries, Fashion and Live Performances. We are bringing together 30 artists (10 artists each strand, 15 from the UK and 15 from India) to network and work with each other. Artists across the two subcontinents are connecting virtually for baat-cheet or to chat and share their ideas, experiences, and aspirations to begin with. We are providing online meetings for communication and facilitating the exchange of ideas.

The artists are organized by three strands. Strand one, Screen Industries, has film, media and documentary makers, performers, scriptwriters, and art activists. Strand two, Live Performance, has dramatists, directors and playwrights, choreographers and poets. Strand three, Fashion, has people associated with fashion in varied capacities across fashion designers, fashion academics, fashion entrepreneurs dealing in handicrafts and handlooms, and people using fashion to connect with society through statement pieces. As the saying goes ‘the arts know no boundaries’ and we feel that neither does our project.

The ensemble of artists is fascinating, and their journeys are inspiring. The youngest one is a recent undergraduate student, and the most senior is a retired professor, but they all share a passion for their craft and creativity. We are proffering an online platform and possibilities through our project for sharing their stories, journeys, and ideas. With a little mediation from the project leads, they are free to connect with anyone and network further. We believe it always takes ‘two to tango’ and hope that these chats will create the opportunity for future connections among the artists. They might come up with a joint project or a fusion of ideas or just a better understanding of lives and people across India-UK borders. However, we are sure in whatever ways they interact, this baat-cheet will facilitate the connections between these two great nations across cultures and creativity.