ENGLAND 2021 – CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD

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By Shubham Kumar

 

As we celebrate our anniversary with this month’s issue about entertainment, we want to know the point of view from those abroad. That is why, on this occasion, we interviewed Shubham Kumar, an Indian collaborator who lives in Bristol and will explain to us how leisure activities and entertainment are connected in a place where a variety of cultures and nationalities coexist simultaneously: England. 

Kumar will also be narrating a bit of his experience as a foreign citizen adapting to a new place and, overall, a new way of life. From India to the U.K, Kumar shares his thoughts and guides us through the world of modern entertainment in his current home.

 

 

England seems to be a very nice and fun place to live; in your opinion as a resident, what’s the best way to experience leisure time there? Is it in any way different in India?

 

I feel that England is a wonderful country to live in, the weather can be a bit frustrating at times, but if you are able to look past that, you begin to realize the plethora of potential and opportunities this country has in store for you. 

There is a variety of activities and hobbies to choose from – a range of sports that you can play, and watch live in a stadium or on your TV, rich selection of music and art forms, a well-established and popular entertainment industry, great nightlife, excellent opportunities for learning and showcasing skills (like cooking, baking, sewing etc.), a variety of international cuisines and food ingredients, beautiful places to travel etc. This is not an exhaustive list by any means.

 This country has much more to offer. I think the range of options for all the activities mentioned above and the associated facilities, infrastructure and learning opportunities available in the UK, accessible to all age groups, are much wider as compared to what I experienced around 11 years ago in India (worth noting that I haven’t lived in India since 2010). 

 

What do you think are the most notable or important activities people like to do in England? Are they diverse, culturally speaking? 

 

Yes, of course, for example, Indian culture is very present. England offers a wide range of activities. Sports is a huge part of people’s lives here and they passionately follow and attend their local club games (football, cricket etc.) – This also engages the local pubs, restaurants, and takeaways. Music and comedy gigs are also extremely popular. People love to bake here and start baking at a very young age. People also love and engage with the British entertainment industry and there are many popular shows and cinema which form a part of people’s conversation. 

They do integrate other cultures in these activities. From my experience, I have seen involvement of Southeast Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis) in Cricket clubs across the country. Quite a few of the Indian festivals (like Holi, Diwali etc.) are celebrated by people here. Indian cuisine is the most popular one here. That said, I do feel that their engagement can be improved further. They might seem a bit distant at first, but I have also seen that as you spend more time with them, they get more and more comfortable and open with you. 

 

 

From your viewpoint, as someone who was not born in the U.K and can, somehow, be considered a “foreigner”, do you find the entertainment culture in England interesting or enjoyable? Do you engage in these activities and enjoy their content?

 

I have always been very fond of the entertainment industry in the UK. My wife and I engage with a lot of the activities here, and really like the British shows and other content.

 

 

The Covid-19 pandemic sure has affected us all in, I dare say, every aspect of our lives, especially in the way we have fun and entertain ourselves; regarding the activities you mentioned earlier, have the dynamics changed drastically because of it? 

 

As you get the chance to attend Wimbledon and visit Scotland. Covid-19 changed the dynamics of the entire world, and England was no different. As the vaccination drive progressed and most adults in the UK were vaccinated, it started trialing capacity crowds in some of the major events (like Wimbledon, Euros etc.) if you were able to show your full vaccination status or a negative Covid test result. The travel and hospitality industry were also opened about a couple of months ago. 

 

 

How does culture mix with entertainment in a place like England?

 

I think that the British entertainment industry does draw its inspiration from its rich cultural heritage, but it also engages the youth well with some of its fresh and bubbly content. 

 

 

Do you think certain activities or cultural products of consumption can help to, in a way, merge or relate British and Indian culture together? 

 

I think that perhaps there could be a bit more content about the historically close relationship of these two countries in school curriculum here.

 

 

How do you envision the future for the entertainment industry in England and India respectively?

 

I think there has typically been a clear subdivision in the entertainment industry in India; while majority of the TV shows and sitcoms have been focused on the higher age group, cinema has been largely focused towards engaging with the youth. Recently there has been a slight shift in this strategy with the introduction of Indian shows on various OTT platforms (Netflix, Hotstar etc.) which are more focused towards the young generation. The content in the European shows, on TV or OTT, already engage all age groups, which I feel will continue in the future.

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