Thursday, September 3, 2009

Genuine 'Sadhna'....

Last evening, I went to the Coomaraswamy Hall (attached to the Prince of Wales museum), to inaugurate an exhibition and sale of work produced by the 600 women artisans who make up 'Sadhna' - which was started in Udaipur in 1988. The remarkable thing about 'Sadhna' is that all the women are co-owners and stake holders, who have worked exceedingly hard for their modest rewards. Today, their exquisite, hand -crafted quilts, home accessories as well as trendy apparel, have found markets in upscale stores like FABINDIA. But despite that, they lead a pretty grim existence, and I believe they deserve far greater recognition for their wonderful creations. Anywhere else in the world, consumers would have valued the beauty of their skills - after all, we are talking about one-offs that are embroidered and embellished by human hands, not machines. There is such a premium on such material in the West. Here, in India, we take it entirely for granted. Months of painstaking labour goes into a bright and beautiful patchwork silk quilt, held together by a simple running stich. Or the precision involved in the appliqued tussore sarees that drape like a dream and are timeless in appeal. I could have gone completely berserk buying every stole, dupatta and saree in sight. But I controlled myself and restricted the purchases to just three items.
The other good thing about Sadhna is that these women have now become decision makers within their community. They operate their own bank accounts, save for the future and are covered by insurance policies. Most importantly, they can hold their heads high and live a life of dignity. I was particularly impressed by one lady, a young widow who' s raising her son under daunting circumstances. Thanks to 'Sadhna', she is financially self- sufficient and free of tyranny that a closed society subjects helpless women to. While listening to her story, I found myself weeping along with her.... but my tears ( and hers!) dried soon enough when we saw the response to the works on display. There is hope - there is always hope.
Suchitra Krishnamoorthi ( Shekhar Kapur's ex) is often in the news for all the wrong reasons, poor girl. Last week it was a case of misinformation and a mistaken identity ( employing an underage maid), this week it is her revelation that she was propositioned by a big time producer( she has not named the guy), when she tried to make it in movies. The casting couch exists!!! Guys this is news!!! Geddit? It's a little like the Loch Ness monster. Or the Yeti. Nobody wants to confirm their existence, but nobody cares to deny it either. How very ho hum. Had she nailed the man openly, I'd say, 'Bravo!' This late revelation doesn't mean a thing. Film folks must be laughing their guts out - has even a single heroine been spared?? If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. If you don't want to bed a producer\director\music composer\actor\actor's chamcha\actor's spotboy\actor's father\chaiwallah\make- up man\cameraman\publicist\ - the list is endless, and could possibly include the dhobi on the set, stay home and as far away from Bollywood as possible.


princess said...

shobhaa..well writen!

Indian Film Industry(especially Bollywood)=Prostitution Business

I hate it when people idolise movie actors.sorry state of affairs!!

princess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Anti-casting couch Union required?

Sidhusaaheb said...

More power to women's co-operatives!

I suppose Lijjat Papad ( ) is a similar success story.

vishnu said...

Hi Shobha,

Its really worth buying the products finished by these hard working women and a word has to put towards the groups which are working tirelessly towards giving an opportunity to them so to earn a decent living.

I truely agree with you as to have appreciated Suchitra if at all she had disclosed the name of the person who tried to take advantage-if that can be said so.
I wonder what was the need for her to reveal this after so many years... Bad timing and un-necessary.

You didnt like QGM, well every person's choice is different.

Have a nice day.


maglomaniac said...

Hi Shobhaa,

Sadhna as you explained seems as a wonderful drive.Now,this is what is called as joint partnership.Many of the world's people remain dissatisfied because such kind of work profit relation doesn't exist at their place where the employee gets a direct part and profit from his/her work done.If the system develops then there would be a larger satisfaction and little unrest among people.
This is also the reason that many of the people are leaving their high paying S/W or other jobs to settle for more self satisfying businesses.
Initiatives like Sadhna should be welcomed with open minds as they are also the source of livelihoods to many who would have else find it hardly difficult to sustain their livelihoods otherwise.
And you rightly said that the importance given to hand made crafts is far lesser in India as compared to western countries.
Maybe we too would soon understand the patience and hard work poured in these painstakingly built masterpieces.


kala said...

IN Delhi and Punjab, women can knit beautiful sweaters attending other chores. In MP, poor underfed adivasis sculpt miniature works of art and paint them too and sell them dirt cheap. If middlemen keep on exploiting and if the government cares little for these skilled workers, the day is not far off when innocent art will starve and die.
As for filmstars, I believe atleast ten percent might not have succumbed to cc. Stars like Kajol and Jaya have merit and arrogance not to stoop so low. About the vast majority, it may be too true.
YSR was a charismatic leader whom poor people love and middleclass people hate. He took risk like Julius Caesar and met his end. But he should not have put other people's lives at risk when weather conditions were not favourable.Srisailam and nallamala(black mountains) is a very scenic place where once the king of jungle roared and roamed.

cmpershad said...

"good thing about Sadhna is that these women have now become decision makers "

In Andhra Pradesh a government organisation DWACRA does the same. They hold exhibition at various places and sell their goods- clothes, pickles, handicrafts.... This is a good beginning and hope it flourishes.

Gulshan said...


I thought u wl name n shame people here… kya yaar not right…

Kala – M8 talent is not = getting an opportunity…. Thr r far more talented individuals who r no where to b seen or may have to go thru this process n later come out clean… Seema Biswas, Madhuri, Sushmita Sen and many more talented people who don’t even see the light of the day … I am just guessing who knows wat happens behind closed doors… Thr was a program I ws watching whr Archna puran was talking abt same n in a candidi way said lets hope after the couch experience u get a break thn it’s a FAIR DEAL lol so f u get talent n fun why not lol

And casting couch is not specific to film industry… I’ve seen a lot hapng in 9-5 office jobs! So its not always talent that gets u a position/ promotion… and in today’s time don’t c a problem either… morals r in a very sad corner in todays time. as I wud want to quote Shobha here ‘ Money is sexier thn sex today!!’ – I can not agree more…

Love Gulshan

Anonymous said...

Very well written . I like the way you write. Keep it up.

raj said...

hi a silent reader till i decided to add some point here...

Govt is spending thousands of crores of rupees providing subsidies and for welfare programs i dnt think it will be much burden on it if it spends some lil money in encouraging these skilled workers.

im really impressed with the DWACRA scheme started in Andhra Pradesh where they encourage the villagers and skilled women by giving them loans (interest 25 paise)to set up their small businesses..hope every state encourages its people in similar or othr ways.

Dr. Mahesh Sinha said...

समझ नहीं आया दोनों कथाओं का लिंक शायद कामन फैक्टर दलाली है

P said...

The case with the west is they do not have much labor force and hence labor is more expensive than machines! Its just the opposite in India!

I remember paying very little for labor at the car repair shop in Mumbai. Now, the labor costs more than the body part here!!

parwatisingari said...

sadhna a hope no doubt. something like lijjat, and even Amul. But P a small correction though labor is cheap here buying or rather spending energy is low. so people still prefer to pick machine stuff.

Anil Kumar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anil Kumar said...

The SAD part is that those who can stand the heat and enter the kitchen become role models for the younger generation. The english speaking models working in massage parlour are considered broad minded and are product of electronic media.

For 360 days they indulge in kalyugi, kulta behaviour and on special occassions like festivals or Commonwealth games opening ceremony they wear traditional dresses and behave like a sati-savitri.

These are truly Kalyugi times. I sometimes wonder does it even bother likes of Amitabh Bachhan, Kapoor Khandaan and other such families knowing fully well that their bahu or daughters like Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty, Preity Zinta etc...have all been to the kitchen in the scorching heat. Doesn't it make them feel filthy that they represent such a fraternity where CC goes on with young girls and they take pride in this fraternity.

*Aham* said...

i have to catch this sadhana sarees, im sure if you are saying so, they must be absolutely wonderful.

Between man made and machine made... Id reject both and choose woman made. :)


Suchitra krishnamoorthy, o! she needs a course in disaster management.

and bai's seem to be the flavour of the season. On media for the wrongest reasons.... underaged bais, tormented bai's, beaten bais and also sexually abused bais. I wish the Bais form an association and get more organized. They will in due course.

Till then only male servants at my place. Have told mummy! but then she suspects me for asking for male servants. Kahaani poori ultipulti hai


Suchitra krishnamoorthy, o! she needs a course in disaster management.

She could well put her TamBrahm wisdom to proper use now.

From an export quality director ex hubby to premature acting and then singing career...

her life is going from Bard to Verse.


why are we in the closet about the open secret called casting couch.

Because these pampered holy cows are very lost in the glitz and glamour and donot want to expose the demons once they have achieved the stardom...

More the stardom, less the wisdom.

Anyways, you get only spoilt milk from these pampered cows. You will never get to know the truth perse... as is!

Kannan said...

I think suchitra is out of sync. Todays girls in the industry are highly ambitious and don't give a damn about couch or pooch. All they want is earn moolah in double quick time and get out. So why all the fuss.


Jogeshwar said...

so true, our closed society subjects helpless women to a lot of tyranny.
I would like to believe that there is hope - there is always hope.

krunal said...


you just see what you wanna see. if a boyfriend of a girlfriend manupulates her into getting a nude mms clip that he can pass along, then women like you suddenly appear at her side calling that boy a monster(in your term). but what about those girls who willingly give their nude photos to many websites, to get some publicity or to make money. today if you open any normal website there is a tag somewhere in the corner that says " meet these bikini girls" , "meet these hot babes". you dont turn up there to stop that. first put an end to that. as for the casting couch there are so many of them who dont mind to do it. and even you observe today's female actresses (anyone who doesnt belong to any bollywood family) they have done a lot of exposure in their first couple of movies. go ask them to stop it. dont picture men in bad light if there are bitches hiding behind.


i would go back in the past. u had made a comment that freda pinto made a right decision by ending the marriage. and in your interview with karan johar you had said that after marriage men get attracted to other women but what they do after that is what seperates men from boys. you said that your father had chances to be with other women in his life but he felt the obligation. and u had also said that marriage is an important decision.

so according to you if you feel socially embarassing to be with your husband then you should dump him. then may be men are doing right if they are sleeping with other women.


it all boils down to one point that you are a cold stuckup beach.

ms said...

actors today are a tough lot and the couch-people know it. interesting bit is not who all were approached but who all succumbed! remember shaktibhai ka sting operation? everyone laughed but no one delved deeper into his revelations. tsk tsk!

maha said...

well written....

Work from home India

Mukul Kumar Mishra said...

Dear Shobha Ji,
I hope everything will be fine at your end. With your support Sadhna had done wonderful in 2009 Mumbai Solo Exhibition. We are very grateful to you for writing about Sadhna on a bigger platform. It really appreciates organization like Sadhna, where in the male dominated society, women takes the lead role and performs.

This time again Sadhna is going to organize Mumbai Solo Exhibition from 27th to 30th October, 2010. We would like to have your presence at the Coomaraswamy hall, Mumbai in that period. In the meantime, if you have any special suggestions regarding product selection, exhibition promotion etc. to make this even successful, please feel free to share with us. Your guidance will be of great help to us.

We look forward to your kind support & cooperation.

Thanks & regards,
Mukul Kumar,
Marketing Executive,
Sadhna, C/o Seva Mandir,
Old Fatehpura, Udaipur (Raj.),Pin - 313004.

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