Two artisans from Bhuj, Gujarat, have put local art on the global map with their work in Beauty and the Beast.
While the Indian handicrafts industry is highly fragmented today, some of our skilled artisans have tried to constantly carve a distinct identity for their craft. Adding to that laurel are Kasam Sangar and Juma Sangar, two artisans from Gujarat, who have embroidered one of the costumes in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Sinéad O’Sullivan, the assistant costume designer of the movie, recently revealed that it was designed using aari work technique, a sequined embroidery chain stitch rooted in the Kutch area of Gujarat.The artisans from Bhuj were contacted for the project through textile designer Simon Marks.
“We have worked for Simon previously too. He approached us three years ago, and told us that he wanted us to do an aari work for a movie. We readily agreed and finished the work in about 15 days,” says Kasam adding that Simon stayed over for some time to check on the work and collected the finished product himself.
The dreamy floral embroidery on Emma Watson’s costume in the movie was quite a rage, and the designs piqued a lot of viewer’s interest. “The design, cloth, thread and the colour combination was given to us by the designers. We just did the handicraft part on a two-and-a-half meter woollen cloth,” says Juma. Unfortunately, like most handicraft artisans in the country, Kasam and Juma too struggle to make ends meet.
“We are a family of five and live in a rented house. Most people nowadays want readymade goods. However, to do aari or zardozi on a sari, it takes at least two to three months and there aren’t many people who would like to wait for that long. So, we go from store to store, and ask them to contact us if they have any handicraft work to be done. But, there is no fixed income,” says Kasam.
The two brothers, who gave it their all to bring the outfit to life, are not even aware of how big the movie is. Ask them how they feel being a part of an age-old fairy tale, and Kasam adds, “We did the handicraft for Simon as we would do for any other project. It was only a few days ago when someone put our photographs online and it went viral, did we realise how big the movie is. Many have appreciated our work and I hope this helps the handicraft industry.”