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This year, Red Earth’s Saree festival seems to be making a lot of noise about the whole nine yards and its ‘avatars’. As I grow older the drape’s hypnotic spell has me happily dreaming of a whole new wardrobe filled with different styles of sarees for all occasions just like my mother’s; who lived in it 24×7 till sometime ago.

But for now the person I’m looking out for is  Himanshu – the saree man and the curator of this festival, who can easily put any woman to shame walking effortlessly in his second skin. Here, I’d like to share with you his passion in regards to a Saree festival from 2nd-4th May’15, at Alliance Francaise, New Delhi,  in its second year.

MD: Tell me a bit about your saree fetish? 
the saree man: Hmm, like most Indian boys (of that generation, since the new ones are so different), I had a secret crush on the Saree. It remained dormant, but resurfaced when I started curating art projects.
Mum tells me that when I was really young, I used to throw tantrums like ‘Mom, please go wear a Saree, else I will not have my dinner!” That hasn’t changed much even now, as I still keep telling her the same, all the time.

MD: Who according to you is best suited for a saree? 
the saree man: Anyone, since it is the most versatile and adaptable garment ever. I like to debunk myths that the Saree is does not suit certain body types. Those conceptions are completely ill-founded!

MD: What is the future of the saree? 
the saree man: It’s going to be fun and is here to stay till eternity, changing forms as it has since centuries. Infact this is an exciting time in the history of the Saree, as so much re-interpretation and styling is being done by the new Saree trajectories, despite the traditional charm of the simple six or nine yards still holding fort. I am particularly excited to track the evolution of the digital Saree, and see how designers will find solutions to print digitally on hand-loom fabrics rather than the horrid Habutai silks!

MD: What are your reasons for starting this festival? 
the saree man: The whole idea was to bring together different styles of sarees, its unique accessories and last but not the least popularizing it passionately through interesting personalities who seem to know it better. As people have their own hierarchies of taste, this is strictly and simply an unalloyed, non-judgmental celebration of the Saree.

MD: How have you changed people’s attitude towards sarees? 
the saree man:  It is a touching and humbling emotion to have people take cues and bring out their Sarees on our insistence. My likes and dislikes evolved while curating festivals around traditional aesthetics. I seriously think everyone is an aesthete in their own right and should not get affected by the fashionable urban culture-vultures who make it difficult to ignore them. Rekindle that spark by wearing what you like without following their diktats blindly.

I have saved the date- 2nd May’15 to attend Dressing up Rai Hridi Haran– a talk by Samrat Banerji on the shringaar sewa offered to his beloved Krishna deity, Rai Hridi Haran, in which he uses the most exquisite textiles (adapted from Sarees).

After that would watch the film The Man and his Saree by director Shatabdi Chakrabarti a short video diary of Himanshu- the artist, the subject, the man and his Saree.

On 3rd May’15 also there is an emotional Marathi film of Lavani dancers with English subtitles Natale Tumchyasathi: Behind the adorned veil by director Savitri Medhatul. It tells their stories of love, pain, power, seduction, survival, expectations, dreams, and ultimately face ostracism. Apparently its spectacular Lavani performances which were recorded live are a ‘must-watch’.

So where are YOU off to this weekend???

himanshu@redearthindia.com

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