Saturday, November 27, 2010

Looking in the archive I find we've been talking 'malkha film' since October 09, 13 months. Thanks to a long delay in release of the budget, filming began a year later with the shooting of the Melange event in Mumbai in October this year, followed by the Nature Bazar and interviews in Delhi later that month. This week the scene moved to Chirala.

As you can imagine, the appearance of a large film crew - 5 people in the lighting team accompanied by the huge generator van, 3 camera crew and 4 in the production team with a sound recordist and all their equipment generated much curiosity and excitement in Mohan Rao colony.

Top left [1]Sara sets up his camera with Ipshita and Mr Khan from her team looking on, next, [2]Ipshita arranges hanks of malkha yarn in Vani's back yard while Sara chats to Ipshita's assistant Nikhil and others and below [3]Vani keeps her cool winding malkha yarn while being filmed from a low angle.
(sorry blogger has jumbled the photos, number [2] is at the top)
Later that day the crew moved into the pre-spinning & spinning unit with all their lights and stuff, and Sara's magic camera work makes even that prosaic workspace beautiful.

From here the crew moves to Punukula where they will shoot the hand spinners, the Punukula production unit with the later edition of machines and the nearby cotton fields, the last bit of shooting before Ipshita gets to work on the editing, hoping to wind up in a couple of months.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hiroko Iwatate's beautiful book on Indian textiles is titled 'Textiles, the soul of India'.. this seems to me to be an adequate response to the question I'm constantly asked: "How did you come to be involved in handlooms?" [I was asked again a few days ago]. People seem to have forgotten, or perhaps the younger generation never knew, that cotton textile making was by far the largest industry in India from about 3000 BCE, and continues today in the 21st century to be the largest in terms of employment after agriculture. I've said it in earlier posts but it bears repeating that while cotton textiles were a luxury in other regions of the world, in India they were worn by both rich and poor. They were affordable because cotton cloth production was so closely meshed with society. Cotton cloth making embodied the particular genius of the Indian civilization: the professional co-operation between very different social groups who did not otherwise socialize. Much of the silver that came into India during its millennia of export surplus was payment for the cotton cloth that India supplied the world -silver that seems to have left India during the colonial period at the rate of almost a shipfull a day for perhaps over 100 years... can an economic historian please enlighten us on this point?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What is keeping us fully occupied these days is the preparation for the new cluster we're planning to set up. Upto now, we've set up one production unit at a time, consisting of one set of pre-spinning machinery with either a 280 spindle ring-frame to do the spinning, or [in one place only out of the 4 in Andhra], motorized domestic 12 spindle charkhas. In the planned cluster we hope to have 4 units with a common facilities centre in which we hope to eventually do our own ginning, dyeing and finishing. Finishing is a critical post-loom process that we don't do yet and consists of washing with soap and an organic softener. Sanjay Gulati of Modelama has been kindly finishing malkha for Tarun Tahiliani's orders.

It should take us about a year to set up the first unit, with each of the next ones coming up at intervals of a few months.