UK-India Year of Culture 2017

Year-long cultural programme set to inspire throughout UK-India Year of Culture in 2017, celebrating deep cultural ties and the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence.

Indian High Commission, the Ministry of Culture, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and leading Indian festival producer Teamwork Arts to deliver a festival of Indian culture from May to November 2017 in the UK.


  • Festival delivered in association with the Shakespeare’s Globe, British Library, Barbican Centre, Sadler’s Wells, Tramway, mac birmingham, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Birmingham Hippodrome, Sampad Arts Birmingham and Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre.
  • The festival’s five strands will showcase the cultural diversity of India – ZEE JLF @ British Library, India @ Edinburgh, Independence Gala @ Southbank Centre, Festival of Dance & Theatre; and the UK premiere of the Freedom Symphony by Dr L Subramanium and the London Symphony Orchestra.
  • India@UK2017 also supports several high profile events – notably Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya, the 8th London Indian Film Festival, and the Darbar Festival 2017 with Akram Khan this year.


India and the UK, bound together through history and shared values of democracy, rule of law and pluralism, share a strong and multi-faceted partnership with deep cooperation across various fields including economics, business, science, and culture. The India-UK Year of Culture follows the joint announcement in 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then-Prime Minister David Cameron of a bilateral initiative to mark the deep cultural ties  and the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence; a commitment that was reiterated during Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to India in November 2016.

The Year of Culture is a year-long celebration of this partnership between India and the UK, and will see a vast programme of cultural exchange and activity taking place in cities across both countries.

This will include programmes celebrating India’s heritage and contemporary culture as part of the dynamic India@UK2017 festival. The India@UK2017 programme organised by the Indian High Commission and the Ministry of Culture, with a number of partner organisations and institutions, will blend artistic traditions from the UK with a wide spectrum of Indian cultural and literary traditions across multiple venues in the UK.

Simultaneously, UK/India2017 organised by the British Council, with a number of partners and institutions, is developing a programme of cultural activity which will connect and inspire people in both countries, and strengthen and celebrate the UK and India’s cultural ties.

 2017 is a year of great significance for the world’s largest democracy – India, marking 70 years as an independent democratic republic, standing for its core values of inclusiveness, peace, and progress. In the past seven decades, India has travelled through upheaval and transformation with a spirit that has remained indomitable and forward-looking. It has seen the steady formation of a variegated, multifaceted and flavourful cultural matrix created by a formidable past legacy and a new contemporary identity. Continuous exploration of the complexities of ancient cultural traditions have brought India’s classical arts into a modern idiom which is acclaimed across continents.

Celebrating seventy years of India-UK relations during UK-India Year of Culture, the Indian High Commission, the Ministry of Culture, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and festival producer, Teamwork Arts, in association with the Shakespeare’s Globe, British Library, Barbican Centre, Sadler’s Wells, mac birmingham, Tramway, Birmingham Hippodrome, Sampad Arts Birmingham, Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre, and Festival Theatre Edinburgh have planned a series of events in the UK and India, developed through various important artistic collaborations.

The festival will present five strands in the UK which will showcase the cultural diversity of India through the year, including ZEE JLF @ British Library, India @ Edinburgh, The Independence Gala @ Southbank Centre, a season of Dance & Theatre; and the UK premiere of the Freedom Symphony by Dr L Subramaniam and the London Symphony Orchestra.

In addition, India@UK2017 will be supporting several high profile events – notably Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya, the 8th London Indian Film Festival, and the Darbar Festival 2017 with Akram Khan this year.

The Science Museum will open a season of exhibitions and events in September this year dedicated to the people, culture and skills of India. Running from September 2017 to May 2018, the Illuminating India season will centre on two exhibitions celebrating the rich culture and history of innovation in India.

A grand Reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by Her Majesty The Queen on the 27th February 2017 will mark the official start of the India-UK Year of Culture.

HE Mr. Y.K. Sinha, Indian High Commissioner, said,

“The Year of Culture assumes special significance in light of the 70th Anniversary of India’s independence. These celebrations indeed offer our two countries a unique opportunity of renewing and revitalizing the common threads of our cultural heritage and to enhance our engagement at the people- to-people level. I am hopeful that the partnerships forged during the year between people and organisations in both countries will serve us well in the years to come.”

Sanjoy K Roy, Director of Teamwork Arts, said,

“There has long been an affinity and a rich cultural dialogue between India and the UK. Over a number of years we have seen interest and appetite for Indian theatre, dance, literature, and music blossom in the UK. In this important year of commemoration we are honoured to be presenting a wonderful, rich and colourful programme of performances up and down the country to share with many people across the UK our passion and culture, as well as the wonderful work that has been developed by artistes from both our countries working together.”


20 – 21 May 2017

In May, the British Library will host the London leg of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival for the first time.

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival travels to London for the fourth time with a creative caravan of writers and thinkers, poets and balladeers brought together by co-directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple. Showcasing South Asia’s unique multilingual literary heritage and the festival’s global programme and appeal, ZEE JLF@British Library is an intense two-day teaser of the original Festival which celebrated its 10th anniversary in January. Inspired by the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence ZEE JLF@British Library will look at ‘The Idea of India’ with eminent authors from India and the UK.

The first writers and speakers have been confirmed as Ajoy Bose, Audrey Truschke, Chintan Chandrachud, Giles Milton, Helena Kennedy, JP Losty, Mihir Sharma, Patrick French, Shashi Tharoor, Vayu Naidu and Festival Directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple.

As Time Out said: “The Jaipur Literature Festival is officially the Woodstock, Live 8 and Ibiza of world literature, with an ambience that can best be described as James Joyce meets Monsoon Wedding.”


A Friend’s Story by Vijay Tendulkar

Akvarious Productions, Directed by Akash Khurana

20-21 September – Shakespeare’s Globe, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Set in and around a college campus in Poona (now Pune) in the 1940s, A Friend’s Story is about three students – the diffident Bapu, the carefree Mitra, and the deceptive Nama. Essentially a love triangle, A Friend’s Story is Vijay Tendulkar’s understated ‘Greek tragedy’ about obsession, jealousy, betrayal, and a search for redemption. Based on events that took place around the middle of the last century, about a theme that many still consider taboo, the play that once expanded the horizons of Indian drama, stands out even today, as an avant-garde tour-de-force.



Dramanon Bangalore

5-6 October – Blue Room at Southbank Centre London

8-9 October – mac birmingham

Akshayambara is an experimental play that uses modern theatrical tools and the dance drama form of Yakshagana to create a contemporary narrative that raises questions on female representation and male ownership. A male artiste in ‘Streevesha’ plays ‘Draupadi’ while in a tradition-defying move a woman is cast as the ‘Pradhana Purushavesha’ of the ‘Kauravas.’ What happens to the interpretation of gender when a man plays the streevesha and the purushavesha is played by a woman? Who is the real woman and who is the real man? When tradition can accept a man as a streevesha, can that same tradition accept a woman as a purushavesha?


Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company – Inter_rupted

20-21 October – Tramway Glasgow

23 October – Birmingham Hippodrome

11 November – Sadler’s Wells, Darbar Festival (on sale soon)

Aditi Mangaldas is a dance revolutionary. A renowned Kathak dancer and choreographer she is now forging a dynamic path remoulding Kathak’s traditional vocabulary with 21st century sound, rhythm and light. Inter_rupted is a high octane work based on the ideas of disintegration, fragility, vulnerability, age and transience. Mangaldas herself dances in a company of seven with music by Sajid Akbar performed live on stage. Aditi will also perform a solo Kathak piece at the Darbar Festival.



Daksha Sheth Dance Company

Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 September – mac birmingham

Wednesday 27 September – Festival Theatre Edinburgh

Fri 29 – Sat 30 September – Tramway Glasgow

India’s tradition of handwoven textiles, with its incredible range of colour, texture and design has, for millennia, been one the most visually striking elements of the Indian persona. As the quintessential expression of the weavers’ imagination, talent and skill, the ‘sari’ continues to be the jewel of the Indian handloom industry.

Renowned dancer and choreographer Daksha Sheth’s Sari is a celebration of the creation of this unique drape, in constant play with the body, both in stillness and in movement.


4 October – Independence Gala – Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre

This evening will be a rich and eclectic coming together of India and UK through dance and music, which characterise each country’s cultural legacy, showcased in a seamless fusion.

The show will present a wide range of the performing arts including Indian violinist Dr L Subramaniam, British soprano Christine Rice, Dindigul drummers, singer Sonam Kalra and her Sufi Gospel Project, singer Vidya Shah joins singers from the UK, indigenous Gotipua, Pung Cholom and Churkula dancers will light up the stage with Scottish bagpipers, highland dancers and British Morris performers, Kathak doyen Aditi Mangaldas, and conductor Sharat Chandra Srivastava will orchestrate a grand foot-stomping finale.


This strand will showcase some of the best music, dance, theatre and crafts.

At the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Teamwork Arts will showcase the Bollywood Musical and possibly the best military band in India today, The Naval Band, whose performances have been enthralled audiences in faraway places such as Rabat, Tokyo, Sydney, Odessa, Istanbul and London.

Theatre includes singer-actress MD Pallavi in her best ever solo performance – a witty, humorous and satirical interrogation of what it is like being a woman in the entertainment industry today, C. Sharp. C. Blunt. Aditya Roy brings his story telling born out of martial arts training in the tale of Gurudakshina. And Kuch Puppet Theatre’s masked production of the eternal story of a child’s thoughts, Pinocchio.

Telling the tale of Majuli, the world’s largest and stunning river island in Assam’s mighty Brahmaputra river, through an evocative narrative of movement, dance, music, and theatre Shilpika Bordoloi celebrates the spirit of Majuli and the intricate bond between people and their land at Edinburgh’s Dance Base.

An evening of Sacred Music @ Traquair House brings together filmmaker and folk singer Shabnam Viramani, Mirasi singer and musician Mukhtiyar Ali, British Indian composer and sarod virtuoso Soumik Datta and Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Café, a band dedicated to taking the timeless verses of Kabir to a young and dynamic India.

Handicrafts and live demonstrations from across India will be displayed at the Assembly Rooms during the August Festivals.


28 November 2017 – Closing concert – Barbican Centre

The performance will include Dr L Subramaniam’s Freedom Symphony performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, and Dr Subramaniam’s performance of an Indian classical music programme.

Dr. Lakshminarayana Subramaniam is an acclaimed Indian violinist, composer and conductor, trained in the classical Carnatic music tradition and Western classical music, and renowned for his virtuoso playing techniques and compositions.

“I find nothing more inspiring than the music-making of my very great colleague Subramaniam.”

Yehudi Menuhin

“Positively dazzling… he achieved a delicate balance of all these factors (technique, sense of structure, development, soul and intensity). He balanced wrenchingly beautiful melodic exposition with tumbling multi-noted cascades…. Within the context of a sinuous elegance that made his improvisations seem exceptionally coherent.”

New York Times