Mumbai – translating a sense of self?

Mumbai morning

To Mumbai for the first time, and as described by a colleague a city as “assault on the senses” outside of the 5* hotel bubble.

FICCI Frames is the annual get together of the Indian Film & TV industry and whilst many of the trends in India are subtly different to other countries (i.e. print press is a growth industry, the film industry is also the music industry via Bollywood) familiar themes of the impacts of digital distribution and growth of mobile were also aired here.

I chaired a panel on the potential for creative collaboration between UK and India, with a particular focus on the opportunity of the new UK Animation Tax Relief. My panelists were two of the biggest Indian animation studios plus the largest post production facility (with UK & US subsidiaries) and in seeking to envisage a model which went beyond the “UK = creative IP dev / India = tech delivery (cheap)” an interesting argument developed. A statement that India does not have universal stories for development into global IP properties drew remarkably little push back.

This argument found an echo later in the week at the first India Design Forum with a discussion on the relative absence, and desirability or otherwise, of a coherent Indian design “language”.

To an objective ear these arguments seem slightly bizarre, the issue appears not one of an absence of either design or narrative but how to translate this Indian creative content into an international setting without losing its essence.

Similarly in a business context there is clearly a massive opportunity in a fast emerging marketplace (i.e. games on mobile will explode over the next 2 years) and strong Indian confidence and financial clout at corporate level for global expansion. But cultural affinity (cricket?) only goes so far and there is a sense that an active facilitation role between UK and India is crucial at this stage to drive better market intelligence on both sides. SIN, CIKTN and UKTI are in early discussions on an initiative in this space later in 2013/14.

Final word to Atul Punj of the Punj Lloyd Group, a property and infrastructure developer passionate about the need to incorporate design thinking into urban planning to counter the lack of an Indian “civic sense” – his words resonating as another hair raising taxi ride across the teeming city somehow ended without calamity.

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