Every weaver is an artist and they need patrons to appreciate their art — this and the increasing lack of it form the crux of the documentary, Bunkar — The Last of the Varanasi Weavers, the trailer of which released yesterday, on the occasion of National Handloom Day. The film, through a series of interviews of weavers and craftsmen, brings forth how with mechanisation, the art of handloom is slowly dying in Varanasi, compelling artisans to
give up their craft and resort to other vocations.
The documentary also sheds light on the history of handloom in Varanasi — how the practicing artisans took pride in it, and now with the passage of time, the looms, neatly kept, lie untouched. “I used to go to Varanasi very often and though I saw the plight of the weavers, I never really understood the problem,” says Satyaprakash Upadhyay, director of the film. Shot over one and a half years, the film attempts to identify the problems faced by the industry. “The situation is very complicated. The weavers have no idea how much their daily wages should be or how their products should be marketed,” says Upadhyay, 31. Having directed several short films in the past, he makes his full-length film debut with the documentary.
The film, the director admits, offers no solutions. It does, however, educate people about the problems, which is a step forward. “To educate people about handloom, one has to understand the quality. Weaving is more tiresome than embroidery and even if they might look alike, they are not the same,” he says. His film intends to make such lines of distinctions clearer and, in the process, hold the much-needed discussion on the problems faced by the weavers.