British Council India head Alan Gemmell: 'We are using creative digital platforms to reach out to a young Indian audience'

British Council India head Alan Gemmell: 'We have put a strong push on large scale mobile digital ideas to reposition ourselves

British Council India is celebrating a major year of cultural exchange between the UK and India in 2017 through creative digital platforms to reach out to young Indian audience.

Conceptualized by Flying Object, Mix the City in partnership with Rolling Stone India tells and shares the story of music making. British Council also launched Saptan Stories which was a creative collaboration between Aardman and British Council aiming to inspire creative writing, thinking, and participation across India.

To find out the motive behind the campaigns, The Drum spoke with Alan Gemmell, OBE, director of British Council India. He says: "We are trying to shift the perception of who we are in India today and taking the best of what we have done.

"British Council is in more than 110 countries and our job is to be topical to take education, culture, English Language and what in that broad collection of thing is most relevant for the country."

"With regards to India, we know we needed to connect with a young generation who knew UK a bit less than their parents. And who have many many competing demands on their time. We have rolled out UK India culture to make stuff that inspires these youngsters.

"That's really what this year's culture programme has been all about. Its been about saying how do we bring together one of the most exciting and inspiring bunch of institutions, bunch of content and brands that will help us tell the story of where UK and India can go."

The British Council and the British Film Institute recently announced the 61st BFI London Film Festival world premiere of the restored movie Shiraz: A Romance of India. Apart from this, British Council also introduced Mix the Play, digital platform where users can choose their actors and direct their own production from Mix the Play: Romeo and Juliet and Mix the Body, an interactive digital dance platform lets people choreograph dances online.

Brands and influencers have been brought on board to aid the initiatives. As to how important brand collaborations are, Gemmell says: "The incredible opportunity of the organisation like mine is that you can work with the best talent in UK and India.

"We have launched a collaboration which is the film called Shiraz with British Film Institute and Anoushka Shankar. We found that when we get the ideas right, brands and partners will come and work with us."

"We have put a really strong push on large scale mobile digital ideas and product solutions with all our Mix the City, Mix the Play and Mix the Dance campaigns."

British Council is also leveraging the power of sports and sports brands to fulfill its agenda. They have partnered with Premier League to train coaches and create training opportunities for young people all over India.

Gemmell says: " We have a ten year long partnership with Premier League and now we have a great collaboration with IMG Reliance. We are using football to give young people in India confidence and also improving access to English language because we think football has incredible power to bring people together and help transform lives.

"When London hosted Olympics in 2012, we ran a program called International Inspiration which I think reached about 4 million young people in India. We are also focusing on North-East from where many great footballers in India come from. We are working with Ministry of Development for the North East region and we can convince the Premier League to have a project in Guwahati."

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Taruka Srivastav

I march to the Indian beat of The Drum.

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