May 13, 2013

Puttapaka, the weaving village


Back at the blog after a long time. 

You stand on a beach with the waves caressing your feet and legs. As the waves come and go, you go deeper inside, and soon get addicted to the feel of the water against your legs, and you find that you cannot walk away from the lapping waves. I read somewhere that having a family is like this. With schools and colleges closed for summer vacation, both children are home and a lot has been happening, which has made me live with contentment in the real world, without having to lean on blog space or Facebook for company. But here I am anyway, for I missed writing, and I guess my brain needs some exercise! 

Among other interesting happenings this summer, six of Ragini's friends from the Fashion Design stream of Symbiosis Institute of Design, Pune, came to Hyderabad to study the Teliya rumal weaving done at a village called Puttapaka. During their last day there, we visited the village despite the scorching heat, simply because we would otherwise never make a trip there. Puttapaka is about 70 km from Hyderabad. After Ramoji Film City, at Chotuppal, one takes a right turn to go to this village. The road is narrow and is bad in some places, but is doable. The happiness of leaving urban chaos behind to head towards the tranquility of a village should be an incentive.

In Puttapaka, there is no sign of its exquisite weaves. No shop, not boards, nothing. So much so, the weavers are not even interested in showing us their process or the sarees. We did see some fabulous pieces, but they were collector's items and not for sale.

The board doesn't indicate how special this village is.  

 Puttapaka is a village with charming houses...

 ...and neat streets. Why don't I live here?

 It was fun to watch the students do a photo shoot. 
What the model is wearing is one of the authentic is 25 years old! 

 Another classy saree...they don't make them any more :(

 More real stuff....stoles and dupattas

 A saree on a loom. Not sure if they were weaving this or it was only an exhibit.

 One of the Gajam brothers outside his home. This is the dyed yarn drying in the sun.

 Tie-and-dye. They use pieces of rubber from old cycle tubes to cover the threads.

Disappointment...there are no authentic Teliya rumaal sarees available. What they had were the ordinary Pochampally sarees that you get in any store in AP 

We saw a saree that had won its weaver a national award. However, we were shocked to see that after winning the award, the weaver's wife, to whom the saree belonged, decided to do some cheap embroidery on the saree. SOMEBODY TELL THEM.

Our trip was too short to really understand the situation. But what I gathered from my visit and the subsequent reading was that one of the main problems being faced was dearth of weavers owing to their migration to cities. Also, the process being exacting and time consuming, the weavers were not able to invest   the amount of time and labour needed. Added to this was the lack of skilled weavers, as most of them were old, the younger ones not having learnt the craft, preferring to take up small jobs in the city.  

However, looks like they manage to supply to the Bold and the Beautiful, the Rich and the Famous of Delhi and Hyderabad. No complaints...if the above categories are helping keep Puttapaka afloat, then let them wear their best weaves.

We enjoyed spending the afternoon and evening in the quiet of the village, broken by the clack-clack of the looms as we walked past their homes. It was enlightening, uplifting and saddening, and we came back with a fervent wish that we could do something to help revive this traditional craft to make it available to the Simple and the Ordinary and the Wise and the Wonderful, to whom it should rightfully belong.

Also read  "Fraying threads", The Hindu, 13 April 2013
More info here

May 01, 2013

The news about Surabhi is true!

I was delighted to read this in today's Hindu. :)  This is only the beginning. They will perform at Broadway one day. I am sure about this! See my recent post.

Surabhi to represent India at France theatre fest

Around 43 artistes will perform at Passages-2013, an international theatre festival to be held from May 4 to 18

Geetha Sri, Sai Teja, Chinmai Chandralekha and Prathima from Surabhi Theatre of Hyderabad 
selected for a theatre festival in France. — Photo: Nagara Gopal

Sweet are the fruits of labour, they say. Sweeter are the fruits of perseverance for Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali, the 128-year-old Surabhi theatre group, which will leave the home turf on Thursday to enthral the audience shores afar in France.
Leaving the Lalitha Kala Thoranam premises where they have been staging shows for years, 43 artistes from the group will perform at Passages-2013, an international theatre festival to be held in the city of Metz from May 4 to 18.

The group will stage three plays ‘Maya Bazaar’, ‘Sri Krishna Leelalu’ and ‘Bhakta Prahlada’ for two weeks at the festival, and go on to repeat the first two at the Centquatre Cultural Centre in Paris, one of them to be watched by French Minister for Culture.
Surabhi’s will be the only troupe from India to perform at the festival, the others representing Ukraine, Russia, Norway, Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, France, Slovenia, Tunisia, and Israel. Incidentally, this is the first overseas performance by the group after many generations.
For better understanding by the overseas audience, dialogues will be translated into French, and displayed as ‘over-titles’ on a screen above the stage, Jean Manuel Duhaut, the Director of the Alliance Fran├žaise, which has organised the trip, informed at a press conference on Tuesday.
Mr. Duhaut said it was the French embassy in Delhi which spotted the Surabhi group in 2010 through a news report on its 125 years’ history. A group from Metz arrived to watch the troupe’s performance which they assessed as a perfect theatre form.
However, arranging for transportation of 43 persons along with the paraphernalia including sets, tents, backdrops, costumes, and jewellery was not an easy task. Sponsors had to be found for everything.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations has undertaken to reimburse the expenses of 20 flight tickets, while Air India chipped in with the best prices for the whole group.
Andhra Nataka Kala Parishad has provided Rs. 5 lakh for the trip, and Raju Vegesna Foundation contributed Rs. 2 lakh to make the trip a reality, K.V. Ramanachary, the former cultural advisor to the State government informed. There are individual sponsors too. A container ship with all the paraphernalia has left for France a month-and-a-half ago, informed R. Nageswara Rao (Babji), chief of the Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali.
“I am a fifth generation artiste, and our troupe has seventh generation too. We have roped in members from other groups too. I think this is the first time 43 artistes from the country will perform abroad for 35 days,” Mr. Rao said.
Mr. Duhaut’s wife and film maker Neeta Jain Duhaut is also filming a documentary about the Surabhi theatre tradition, to be telecast on a French television channel.