Life & Style

Welfare by design

Designer Aravind Joshua believes that with the right kind of intervention, textiles and handicrafts can enjoy a well deserved place in the sun

“We need to create highbrow aspiration to turn handlooms and khadis into affordable luxury,” says costume designer Aravind Joshua.

The designer, in collaboration with the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC), has embarked on a project to reinvent traditional weaves and crafts into a contemporary avatar. The designer believes that design interventions are needed to save traditional weaves from extinction. He was in city to attend meetings with the Skill Development Corporation where he will work as a consultant.

From Eluru in West Godavari district, Aravind is an alumni of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad. Around 2002-03 when fashion scene in Hyderabad was warming up, he launched his own label Thrithvaa Khadi. At that time, he wasworking with the Khadi Commission of India, trying to give khadi a modern appeal. “Nobody except a handful of senior citizens who believed in Gandian principles would buy the apparel,” he says.

Aravind worked from 2005 up to 2010 on the fabric, collaborating with the Khadi and Village Industries Board of Andhra Pradesh. From the khadi woven in Guntur, Tuni and Pondur, he developed women and children’s wear.

As luck would have it, he got a break in films. “I had a few friends from the Telugu film industry who introduced me to film director Sekhar Kammula. He liked my work andI was taken on board for Anand,” he says.

Anand became a huge hit and Aravind’s journey with Kammula continued as he dressed up the protagonists in his other projects like Godavari and Happy Days. Besides, he has also designed outfits of Rana and Richa Gangopadhyay in Leader, Jagapathi Babu and Priyamani in Madan’s Pravarakhyudu and worked for films like Ashta Chamma, Gunde Jhallumannadi and Gayathri.

Unsurprisingly, Sekhar Kammula has a special place in his heart. “Of all the projects I have handled, I feel that I have left a mark in Sekhar’sfilms. He gives designers the respect they deserve which is not always the case. Costume designing isserious business but some film makers seem to think that anybody can design clothes. Many times the wives of producers and directors become costume designers,” he says.

Roopa in Anand and Seeta in Godavari were girls with a great deal of self respect, so he thought khadis and handlooms were the way to bring out their character. Aravind realised that cinema was a powerful medium with extensive reach and it could be used to promote weavers. “And believe me, these films did work in favour of the weaving community. After Anand. I heard more girls began wearing saris. Godavari did a lot of good to the missing checks of Mangalagiri,” he smiles. He is referring to the scene where Kamalinee Mukherjee wears a Mangalagiri checks sari. When weavers told him that the sale of Mangalagiri checks saris had gone up, he was convinced that cinema was a powerful propaganda tool.

Aravind has also worked with the artisans of the Kondapalli toys. “The art of toy-making is a precious gift passed on from generations. But in the absence of proper marketing facility resulting in severe financial crisis, the artisans have begun to look on the traditional skill as a curse ,” he laments, talking about how many of them prefer being a security guard or a gardener in order to make a living.

Like the Amul Cooperative Society, Aravind has suggested to the Skill Development Corporation, to set up a similar cooperative body for these artisans . “Or else their financial status will never grow. Designers like me can help them update their skills and adopt contemporary designs. For this to happen, somebody will have to walk that extra mile.”

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 12:09:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/welfare-by-design/article29807805.ece

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