It was on a performance tour to Tokyo in 2001 that dancer Aparna Rajaraman had a sartorial epiphany. “I suddenly realised the difficulty that artists and dance institutes outside India face in getting costumes and other accessories,” she said. “The internet was the best medium that I could think of to reach people”.
Rajaraman, who had never run a business before, taught herself enough web skills to set up the first online store for classical dancers’ wardrobe needs. Now shubhanu.com offers costume-stitching services for bharatanatyam, kuchipudi, mohiniattam and Odissi dancers.
It also sells temple jewellery, accessories like ghungroos, cymbals, manai kattai (wooden block and baton to tap beats) and hair accessories like artificial, but washable, flowers. “We generally do traditional styles, and we have also done customised jewellery and costumes for dance dramas based on Indian mythology,” Rajaraman said.
The site is basic, but has a measurement chart to rival the finest couture house. An anatomical chart deconstructs the outfit into measurements such as “up to knee length”, “upper cloth”, “waist cloth” and “centre back-bone to shoulder”. All the customer needs to do is use the chart and fill in the measurements according to the table (see pic). “What we measure in person is exactly what is given on the chart,” Rajaraman said. “If there is any query, then we discuss it over the phone. After that, alterations will be minor, which the artists can themselves do.”
Saris are available in single colours and contrast combinations, all with golden zari. www.shubhanu.com has dispatched costumes from Chennai, where they’re stitched, to dancers in the US, UK, Poland, Latvia, Fiji, Canada, Dubai, Malaysia, Israel, France and Germany, in addition to customers within the country. However, patience is a virtue. “We normally take about a month to deliver the costume,” Rajaraman warned. “If it has customised colours, then it may take about three months for delivery.”
By Karun John on July 05 2012