IT HAS been a week since pictures emerged of actor Deepika Padukone wearing a red and gold pure zari Kanjeevaram brocade silk sari with Gandaberunda (two-headed bird) motif for the Mangalorean rituals of her wedding to Ranveer Singh under the azure skies of Lake Como, Italy. But in Bengaluru’s Sadashivanagar at the Angadi Galleria silk sari store the telephone hasn’t stopped ringing since. The overwhelming social media attention and media interest in the bridal red sari from the House of Angadi’s in-house label Advaya has taken even founder, CEO and design head K Radharaman by surprise.
The 38-year-old Cornell University graduate is definitely not your typical silk sari manufacturer. He has imbibed his family’s 600-year-old weaving heritage and picked up the nuances of the business from his father
R Kothandaraman (fondly known as R. K. Raman) whose clients included the likes of Indira Gandhi, MS Subbulakshmi, Pupul Jayakar and Nargis Dutt. “It’s been in my blood. Quite frankly, I learnt it from the best guru I could’ve had, which was my father. I founded the company on my own, even though it was a business my forefathers have been in and it has been a continuing tradition for centuries,” says Radharaman.
As the legend goes, the Angadi saga began nearly 600 years ago when a group of Padmasaliya weavers, the traditional silk weaving community of south India, migrated from Warangal to the Tanjore river delta in what is now Tamil Nadu. They then went on to become the court weavers of Saraboji Maharaja of Tanjore, a title which earned them the family name of the ‘Angadi vals’ or shopkeepers. Today, Radharaman has consolidated centuries of weaving legacy in the House of Angadi. Having launched his retail arm Angadi Silks in 2001, Radharaman went on to launch an in-house design label Advaya in 2010 — for limited edition weaves that allow him to tread a fine line between tradition and innovation. While the heritage line sees archival pieces being reproduced in all their finery, experimentation is not off the menu.
“The intervention comes in varying degrees either at the yarn or construction level or with the technique and visual imagery… but we try to stay true to the design vocabulary that constitutes a Kanjeevaram,” says the textile designer, who has experimented with linen-blended and khadi-blended Kanjeevarams as well.
It was pieces from the in-house Advaya label that Ujjala Padukone picked up when she had to present saris to her daughter in keeping with the Konkani tradition. Apart from the red and gold sari worn for the nuptials, which was a contemporised version of an archival design, Deepika also donned a full gold Kanjeevaram for the Bangalore reception on Wednesday night. “That was an entirely gold zari sari, made with real gold zari in both the warp and the weft. This is quite unique, unlike the conventional brocade where you have silk coloured yarns in the warp and zari in the weft,” explains Radharaman.
And while Deepika’s wedding has thrown the spotlight on his sizeable Bengaluru-based business — he employs 500 weavers directly and deals with over 2,000 people through the retail arm — Radharaman says he is not angling for publicity. The Angadi Galleria name cropped up in the conversation only when designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee was accused of co-opting credit for the saris worn and issued a clarification in response.
“Our intention was not to generate publicity. In this particular instance, we had to intervene to set the record straight. And we’re happy that due credit was given,” says Radharaman.