Telangana’s Dokra and Bidri works don’t need an introduction among art connoisseurs. Yet, for the craft to survive and thrive, it needs strong patronage from people in and around the state. Anjana Somany is one such who is trying to make a difference.
Anjana, an entrepreneur who has made a name for herself in promoting crafts around India for about 40 years, is in Hyderabad to host a conference, ‘Business of Handcrafted Sustainable Luxury’ at the Indian School of Business, Gachibowli, on February 20.
Having started her journey in Hyderabad, Anjana, the founder of the Mango Tree Craft and Design in 2003, who is now based out of Delhi, begins our interaction reminiscing about her initial days.
“My arts and crafts stint began in my early years, with the production of a patriotic Hindi play Bharat Gaurav. Later, I moved cities — from Delhi to Hyderabad and back to Delhi — but my journey with theatre, craft and arts remained. So I established Mango Tree Craft and Design to promote cultural diversity and crafts,” says Anjana, who is, incidentally, considering another production of Bharat Gaurav in Delhi for 2021.
Then talking about the relevance of the Mango Tree Craft and Design and the upcoming conference, Anjana tells us how she organises exhibitions and events to raise awareness and to provide a platform for craftsmen. “Craft is a serious business, not just a souvenir. I plan to use my passion to kick-start a festival called ‘Craft Stories under the Mango Tree’. This conference is the curtain raiser for that festival,” she says.
Handing crafts to the city
The choice of Hyderabad as the venue had a little to do with her reminiscence and some more. “According to our research, we found that Hyderabad is perfect to host the festival as people here are very open to accepting new things. Moreover, the South doesn’t yet have a festival of this nature, so in every way, Hyderabad was a good location for the festival. Additionally, I am very close to all the artisans here and am well aware of who, what and where of the scene. In a way, I want the festival to celebrate Telangana artisans,” shares Anjana.
The organisers, who are preparing for the festival with Anjana and her team, plan to make this an annual event, with a focus on crafts and their history. The said festival, with nine branches around crafts, will have a holistic approach and span over a few days through the year. The Member Founding Committee Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh and President Delhi Crafts Council also shared with us his insights on the curtain raiser. “We’ll have panel discussions on the business of handcrafted sustainable luxury-talking about its current position and how we can improve it,” she says, adding that the panel would have many established people from the country’s handicrafts industry....