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Lavanya Bahuguna


‘Storyloom Films’ Girls Are Changing The Lives Of Indian Artisans, JWB Documents Their Lives

  • JWB Post
  •  July 2, 2016


These girls are famous for carrying cameras adorned with floral motifs to envious places around the country. Motifs resembling white henna. Keya Vaswani and Nidhi Kamath are the Founders of , a team that makes documentaries on Indian art and artisans.

In this interview, we spoke to the Powerpuff Documentary Filmmakers about their team goals that have now turned into a mission – a mission to change the lives of our country’s underprivileged craftsmen. Read… 

How did you two meet and come up with this fantastic idea of making films on crafts?

We both studied at the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design (IICD) in Jaipur and were batchmates and best friends. We did our four-year diploma course in Craft Product designing which helped us to get a thorough knowledge of arts. Somehow, we knew we both wanted to go beyond products.  And because we share the same interest of traveling and storytelling, we were fortunate to get an opportunity to make a film of Banarasi Saris for a well-known Textile Historian Padmashree Rahul Jain. We made our very first film Threads of Banaras in our Diploma Project, and that is when we realized that this is what we want to take forward in our careers.

Talk about your team of two women – the strengths and weaknesses.

The best part of us working together is that we are best friends. It’s been seven years we have been together.  When women work together, you can sense an emotional support among them. Apart from this personal benefit, we believe that women have the power to connect with people more efficiently and quickly. When we go and meet artisans, we get easily mingled in their families.

Why ‘Storyloom’?

We wanted a name which has the essence of story-telling and handlooms about which we make films. Storyloom Films is about telling beautiful stories and crafting films with love. We consider that when curiosity is combined with passion and love, the result is meaningful. Our objective is to weave poignant and heart-warming stories on the warp of time.

‘If we lose a craft, we lose a culture’ – Name few underrated art forms in India that we must explore.

Damscus and Camel decoration to name a few.

You choose to center your films around the artisans. Talk about it.

We, the people living in cities are hardly aware of the indigenous crafts and artisans. We also have certain pre-conceived notions about artisans life. For us, it is critical to talk about the person behind the craft, the one who gave a design its life. Also, we want people to respect the craftsmen for their talent. We’ve seen how most of us treat them at times; it’s unfortunate.

Please share an emotional story of an artisan/community with us.

There are a lot of stories we came across during our shoots, but the one that really inspired us happened in Maheshwar. Today’s primary concern about Indian crafts is that the younger generation doesn’t want to carry forward the legacy anymore, blame the economic arguments. All they want is a white-collar job in a fancy big city.

We met this beautiful family in Maheshwar that owns a brand called Fabcreations. The five kids in the family have happily chosen to keep the tradition alive and loom Maheshwari silk sarees and fabrics. You have to see the film ‘Weaves of Maheshwar’ to learn more about them!

‘Weaves of Maheshwar’ has recently been awarded the 63rd National Film Award for Best Promotional Film. Share your experience and reaction on receiving the news.

We never thought we are going to make it. We were in Banaras at that time and were tired after the shoot. Nidhi got a call from a friend congratulating us on winning the National Award. We remember not sleeping that night and jumping on our beds. Ha-ha!

Keya Vaswani

Nidhi Kamath

How long does it take to complete a film?

Because it’s just the two of us, a 2-3 minute film takes us around 25 days.

‘Pehchaan – The Discerning Eye’ was featured on National Geographic Short Film Showcase. Any fond memory?

We had submitted the film and totally forgotten about it as it was over a month, and we didn’t receive any information. When we got featured, our happiness knew no bounds. It couldn’t get better than that! It was National Geographic, after all!

You’ve researched about the hand-weaved sarees by Ahilyabai Holkar. Did you come across any interesting fact about her while working in her city?

We met an old man in Maheshwar, who had an excellent and detailed knowledge of the city, its craft and also about the royal family. He told us that the main motto behind setting up the weavers in Maheshwar was the foreign policy. Since Ahilyabai was the ruler, she wanted to take care of her people and healthy relationships around. So, she started gifting fabrics to the kings and queens around Maheshwar. Isn’t this interesting?

Did you ever try your hands at creating any handloom during the shoots?

Many times! Apart from this, Nidhi loves to bring back the memories of every place we visit. Recently while shooting in Kashmir, she got her camera painted by a local artist.

How do you manage the funding of your independent films? Any advice for those new in your field?

We have to keep looking for grants and different producers for the funds.  For women filmmakers, there are a lot of donations available. Keep looking for them. Also, you can do a fellowship which supports you financially. For example, our film ‘Weaves Of Maheshwar’ was a fellowship with PARI – People’s Archive of Rural India.

What do you girls do during your free time?

Keya: I am married, and I love taking care of my home and my husband.

Nidhi: I am single and so, I travel to new places.

In the end, talk about your dream projects.

Keya: I have been going to the National Park called KahanKisli since I was 3. My love for the environment has pushed me towards working for it. Now, I want to make a film about the guides of KahanKisli, who are the real caretakers of the forest. Their job and dedication are commendable.

Nidhi: I would like to make more films that help people at large.

Pictures source: Storyloom’s Facebook page

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