Samantha Ruth Prabhu on being seen as a fashionista, and why she's working to revive handlooms
Actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu, who launched her new business venture 'Tweave' in partnership with the Telangana Government, said on Monday that reviving handloom has become her mission.
"I must confess that reviving handloom has become my mission and it is giving me a lot of purpose. As an actor, over the many years, I have been blessed to receive a lot of love and affection. But of late, I have realised that it's not been just because of the movies alone. What we do on-screen and off-screen has a great impact on people," Samantha told reporters.
The 30-year-old actress, who is the brand ambassador of Telangana handlooms, assured people that she would do everything in her power to change the lives of the people working in the handloom sector of the state.
On her inspiration to take up the cause
"When you are famous for whatever reason, particularly because you are an actor, most people don't realise that you are haunted by the question: You’re famous, but what exactly did you do to find a place in peoples' hearts? Yes, I act. I pretend to be somebody else for a living. So you can see why that question haunts me all the more. This question has been the inspiring force in my life and has pushed me to do more, be better, to give back. And this question made me arrive at the doorsteps of the handloom industry," explained Samantha.
"I set out to be a fashionista; I love dressing up"
"As an actress, you attend many public events, people notice what you wear and term it fashionable or not. So like everybody else, I set out to be a fashionista. I love dressing up, I met a lot of designers and collaborated with them. And then one day I wore this piece that was truly stunning, and I saw the price tag. Even for those who are affording, this would have burnt a deep hole in the pocket. I was told that it was handloom and I dug deeper into the subject. I wanted to know more about the stories of the weaver, because here I had heard that the industry is struggling and that these products are priced very high, so it was confusing," said Samantha.
She added she visited many villages in Telangana this year and interacted with a lot of wonderful men and women who have dedicated their lives to handlooms.
"Do I want to be the generation that causes the death of tradition and culture?"
"They earn one-tenth of the price at which their products are sold. It was disheartening that in the towns and cities where this art once thrived, it is now fading away. The new generation does not want to take up this profession because of the low income. The existing weavers migrate to cities for another means of livelihood; they are laborers in the city, watchmen in your houses. The once-skilled artisans do not want to weave anymore. I met a weaver once who said: 'If I die, this dies with me.' It was then that I took this up seriously. Do I want to be the generation that causes the death of tradition and culture? There is a gap between the dated techniques and designs that are used in the handloom sector and new-age fashion, which is changing so quickly," she explained.
Samantha said 'TWeaves' (Telangana Weaves) aims to provide handlooms of superior quality and the most modern designs at affordable prices. "Our whole intention is to make handlooms more affordable and to source them directly from the weavers, so that they are the ones who benefit the most. Our head designer Preetham Jukalker is very young and hard working; in fact, all his pieces are directly sourced from government-run Tesco outlets. Even the piece I’m wearing is straight off the racks of a Tesco outlet. I was brave enough to do this only because of their support, only because of minister KTR Garu. I’m extremely inspired, and I respect his ideas and determination in making this young state the most prosperous one in the country," an elated Samantha said on the occasion of National Handloom Day.
Telangana Minister KT Rama Rao showers lavish praise on Samantha
Minister of Textiles, KT Rama Rao, said, "This year’s budget presented by the Government of Telangana has allocated about Rs 1283 crore for handlooms, which is a 12-fold jump from the previous year’s budget. That is the kind of focus and effort the Government of Telangana has started putting in to revive handloom."
"What handloom desperately needs today is for the younger generation to adopt and understand that it can be trendy and cool to wear."
KTR also thanked Samantha for bringing in fresh energy, enthusiasm, motivation, focus and a lot of glamour, which he remarked is the most important thing that is missing. "A lot of people think coming to the shows and wearing handloom is charity, which it is not. Handloom can be extremely trendy and extremely fashionable," he said.