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Design doctor

Ganesh Nallari. Photo: Nagara Gopal  

A bright mango yellow kota fabric sits pretty on the kaarigar's work surface and will dress a blushing bride in a few days. Ganesh Nallari, casually dressed in a tee and Bermudas, oversees the work assigned to his different tailors. “Lovely shade, isn't it? This mango yellow shade has become really popular. I am glad people are open to using fuschia pinks, mango yellows and greens this wedding season over the staid maroons and mustard yellows,” says Ganesh Nallari, walking up to us in his studio at Jubilee Hills.

He prefers to be a trendsetter rather than follow fashion forecasts. Much before the yellow fever caught on in global fashion circles, Ganesh nurtured a liking for the colour and egged on some of his clients to design outfits in similar colours. “I've been telling many of my women clients to opt for elbow-length blouses but most of them were hesitant before Vidya Balan made them popular in Paa. Hyderabadis need to be more open towards experimenting,” he says.

His studio is a study in contrasts. Besides the pink, ochre and yellow hues that scream for attention, there's the new understated line of kurtas and shirts he's designed for men, which will be retailed online through a new portal. As much as he is inundated with orders for weddings from city-based and NRI clientele, he loves to move away from bling and bring in classicism while designing for dance ballets. His ikats boast of an exclusive clientele.

From a non-descript studio in Secunderabad where he built his loyal clientele, Ganesh has the pride of being one of the A-list designers in the city. Would you believe that this genial, witty designer who designs for celebrity clients such as Tapsee and Lakshmi Manchu is also a dentist, dancer and a painter?

At ease with his creative pursuits, he says, “My friends on FB are from different worlds — students from the college where I taught dentistry, friends from my dance school, NIFT, Milan and general friends.”

As a child, Ganesh trained in Kuchipudi from late Usha Rani, won prizes in competitions and much later had a formal training in Bharatanatyam from Ananda Shankar Jayant. “I don't get time to practice dance these days. I keep telling my mom that I should do my arangetram some day. I grew up listening to and dancing to classical music in director K. Vishwanath's films. Dance does wonders to your concentration levels. When you dance, there is no room to let your attention wander. That gives me the utmost satisfaction,” he exclaims.

His decision to learn dance or later shift from dentistry to fashion designing did not meet with opposition at home. “I am fortunate that my parents didn't stop me. I was also the sort of guy who wouldn't let anyone stop me from doing anything I wanted to,” he asserts. He has no regrets over switching careers. “It was a gradual progression as I realised what I wanted to do. All my pursuits are creative. Dentistry, in a way, is creative. I was very good at making wax models of teeth in the classroom,” points out Ganesh. Call it a quirk of fate but many of his clients are either doctors or dancers.

His interest in the creative fields probably came from his mother, who teaches painting at a school. “I loved drawing classes in school. It was unfortunate that painting and sports classes were traded for other subjects in school,” he laments. Some of his paintings adorn the walls of his studio.

Ganesh sees each design opportunity as a challenge. “If I design for a group of friends, I like to make them stand apart. Each one has a different personality and is comfortable in certain colours and silhouettes. I like to experiment, but it has to befit the personality and the occasion. Recently I dissuaded a groom from opting for Jodhpuri pants for his wedding reception. Wearing Jodhpur pants for a traditional Telugu wedding reception where the bride is to be clad in a Kanjeevaram sari didn't make sense to me,” he shrugs. He acknowledges that designing for men is challenging given the narrow scope for bling and experimentation.

Ganesh's next step? “Hopefully fashion week,” he says with a smile.

My friend Onir

Some who knew Ganesh over the years were in for a surprise when they learnt that one of the stories of Onir's film, I Am Abhimanyu, was inspired by a real-life experience from Ganesh Nallari's life. “Onir is a friend and I had confided in him. I was confident that a director like him, who has dealt with subjects like My Brother Nikhil, would deal with it sensitively,” says Ganesh. He discloses that his parents knew about him having faced abuse as a child only through the film. “I hadn't even revealed all this to my parents. It was only after my uncle (the abuser) passed away that I shared my story,” says Ganesh, who feels that the society needs to look beyond the stigma of talking about child abuse and instead teach children to differentiate between good touch and a bad one.

Design, dentistry, dance and painting

Ganesh Nallari did his PG diploma in textile design from NIFT and pursued masters in fashion design from Domus Academy, Milan.

He was one of the finalists of the European Silk Awards.

His formal training in Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam comes in handy when he designs for dance ballets.

From weddings to work wear and ballets to movies, he loves designing for a wide clientele.

Ganesh taught dentistry for students of Krishnadevaraya College of Dental Sciences, Bangalore, before he became a designer.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 10:31:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/design-doctor/article2090993.ece

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