Susman, a 1987 movie by Shyam Benegal starring Om Puri is a gem that showcases the plight of handloom weavers in India and it is still relevant today. Our appreciation for the movie led us to Ms. Nandita Puri last year in Mumbai at an exhibit. We connected over it and conversations on a variety of topics ensued during the next few meetings in Jaipur, where we went on to learn about The Om Puri Foundation.
The Om Puri Foundation is a Trust in the name of late actor, Om Puri. The foundation aims to take forward his legacy (with his films reaching wider audience), his philosophy and his values through scholarships, fellowships and grant for emerging filmmakers. The plight of Indian farmers and Artisans is another major area of focus.
Our last meeting with Nandita Puri Ji happened at this year's Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai before Covid-19 was yet to create the lockdown that we are in today. As the lockdown began extending and we all came under pressure, pressure of standing up, supporting the right people and most importantly our weavers. We and our staff, of course, went for salary cuts but the same couldn't be applied to weavers and artisans who earn on transactional basis. We were supporting them in whatever manner possible. Some of you actually came forward and helped us by purchasing our products using PROMISEOFWORK during the month of April but this month has been a bit different.
While work was completely paused and we were still figuring how to generate revenue we got a call from Nandita Ji two weeks back which took pressure off our shoulders a bit. It was a quick call demanding for a list of our weavers who need financial assistance on urgent basis. And she asked for a list of 50! We sat down started compiling the list and came up with a list of 11 weavers (10 from West Bengal & 1 from J&K) who needed immediate help. She asked us to get more artisans and we obviously went directly to Dastkar, simply because we trust them and they were happy to get the help. Another few days of data compilation resulted in financial help reaching out to at least 51 weavers (with 50 more artisans in the coming week).
To cut it down to fewer words, we could've never imagined that the help will come to our weavers, since a section considers us middlemen. Our endeavour has always been to create products that not only benefit the wearer but the maker and the environment and we are humbled that our work has been loved by people around us, specially in these times too. Thank you Om Puri Foundation, Nandita Puri ji & Ishaan Puri for coming all out, showing confidence in us and supporting the weavers we work with. A big thank you to all the readers too for reading as well as making purchases last month. Since operations have resumed, your Cotton Rack garbs will be with you soon. You can still go on and support us by browsing through our collections, let us know if you like something and we will try and help you out. On a more serious note, in case you would like to contribute The Om Puri Foundation with the cause, feel free to reach out to Dhwani Shah on- +91 9987149683.
Let the good word and work keep flowing...