A documentary about the weavers of Maheshwar from Madhya Pradesh is a story of artisans who’ve revived an ancient art to match modern needs
The opening scene transfers you to Maheshwar, a beautiful, historic, riverside town in Madhya Pradesh. In the 18th century, Ahilyabai Holkar, who ruled the princely state of Indore, promoted the tradition of hand weaving here. Well over two centuries later, the town remains famous for its Maheshwari sarees. Produced by Storyloom Films — a company formed by Nidhi Kamath and Keya Vaswani, graduates of the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design, Jaipur — the documentary Weaves Of Maheshwar, tells the story of the weavers, who managed to keep their craft alive.
A young worker learns the craft from a senior weaver in a still from the documentary
"A year ago, we approached senior journalist P Sainath with the idea of wanting to make a film about the crafts of India and he accepted the proposal. Our film then became a part of the People Archive Of Rural India, and was funded by them. It is a story about craft revival.
Weavers play models showcasing Maheshwari sarees they have woven
The documentary revolves around the various journeys of people who have made this change possible. In an era where machines are taking over the world, India is the only country that still produces 90 per cent of its textiles on handloom. The protagonists of the film are a group of people who have facilitated this change," shares co-director, Kamath. The 30-minute documentary won the Silver Lotus (Rajat Kamal) for the Best Promotional Film at the 63rd National Film Awards 2016 and will premiere in the city this evening.
Young weavers of Fab Creations
"When we visited Maheshwar for the first time, we learnt that between 2012 and 2015, more than 200 weavers have migrated to Maheshwar due to the growing opportunities in its handloom enterprises. Many are from Barabanki, a town in Uttar Pradesh. This is unusual and contrary to the trend in a sector that is in steep decline," adds Kamath.
The film looks at organisations like the Rehwa Society, which changed the course of things for the weavers, making their art more sustainable and helping them keep up with changing times, including changing traditional patterns that were specific to Maheshwar and adopting ones that were favoured across the country.
A traditional Maheshwari saree borde
"It is interesting that young people are among the weavers playing a pivotal role in reviving the craft. They are an inspiration to the weaving community of this historic town. We spoke to a group called Fab Creations run by five boys aged 23 to 26 years. They are involved in the art they have inherited from their previous generations and are completely clued into latest trends in design and marketing tools including the effective use of social media. It is this kind of involvement that is helping the art survive," says Kamath. Weaves of Maheshwar portrays this strength of Indian textiles and the rich craft sector. The documentary includes various perspectives like those of a businessman, an entrepreneur, migratory weavers, young weavers and a craft expert. "Film is our language for communicating issues which need to be heard. We are hoping the film helps other cities and sectors understand how art forms can survive with a little effort and take inspiration from Maheshwar," concludes Kamath.
On: Today, 6.30 pm
At: ARTISANS’, 56-52, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.