The Antar Anga project continues the photographic exploration of the kanjivaram and its elements—shifting focus from the geometry of the weave in Vol I , to delve into its colours in Volume II. Colour plays an integral role in the kanjivaram craft; every shade of silk is rooted in the culture of South India, and rich in significance. In the second instalment of the Antar Anga series – Chroma – art director and photographer Pranoy Sarkar expands upon the idea of reimagining the kanjivaram, this time translating the sari’s relationship with colour into beautiful spatial experiences.
Pranoy experiments with light, colour and structure, creating and photographing dynamic installations that offer new lenses through which to view and experience the queen of silks and its signature palette.
As in the first volume of Antar Anga, these visuals capture the installations as spaces within which the models move—not merely backgrounds, but shifting landscapes that become characters in themselves.
In the weaving of handloom textiles, the laborious process of hand-dyeing the yarn is the point at which colour is born—and this concept acts as the starting point for Chroma.
In the first sequence, rods hung with cascades of dyed yarn are suspended from the ceiling within a pristine white setting. At times, the linear rods curve to take on a more fluid form and, at others, skeins of raw dyed yarn are strewn upon the floor. The juxtaposition of the rustic dyeing set-up with the sanitised white space has a powerful visual effect, while the contrast of colour is reminiscent of the kanjivaram’s own dramatic colour play.
The second installation recreates the swirl of colour formed when a droplet of dye dissolves in water. Yards of luminous organza fabric in the essential kanjivaram shades of yellow and vermillion are folded and ruffled to evoke this moment in time, appearing as though suspended in mid-air.
A traditional South Indian doorway is recreated in the third sequence. The architectural form becomes a three-dimensional set that appears perfectly symmetrical from one vantage point, but completely distorted from others. The kanjivaram, too, shape-shifts with points of view, taking on entirely different forms when folded and when draped. A painted square in emerald layered on the set of this sequence enhances the geometry of the structure—just as the kanjivaram’s colours emphasise the dramatic layout of the drape.
Shifting beams of light and colour light up the pitch darkness of the final sequence. The models respond to and interact with these bursts of colour that evoke memory and emotion. The models wear kanjivarams in black and gold, the zari shimmering in the darkness. On the light spectrum, black is defined as the absence of colour while in art, it is the sum of all colours—and this dichotomy of black is set beautifully against the multi-coloured backdrop. The constantly changing hues of the set echo the way the luminous tones of the kanjivaram shift in different lighting.
Expanding on the draping style from Volume I which contemporised the traditional ‘madisar’ technique, stylist Devanshi Tuli creates less columnar drapes for Volume II, with hints of controlled volume for a gentler silhouette. The looks are minimally accessorised, with simple wooden footwear, natural make-up, and no other embellishment. The hair is styled in a throwback to the school girl pigtail, ubiquitous in South India, contemporised to seamlessly complete the look.
A collection of classic Kanakavalli kanjivarams feature in this project, several of them with korvai borders, showcasing brilliant contrasts of colour, or interesting combinations of complementary hues. The korvai weave technique, a hallmark of the kanjivaram, is a defining feature of the way colour is used on the queen of silks. The gamut of unusual colour combinations, often bringing together seemingly opposing hues, is an aesthetic that draws on South Indian culture and has been made familiar by the kanjivaram sari.
Discover Antar Anga’s Chroma on Kanakavalli’s Instagram feed, and, if you missed it, go behind the scenes for the first volume of Antar Anga titled Intersect, here on the blog.
Ekavalli would like to thank the entire team that made the project come alive:
Photography and creative direction : Pranoy Sarkar
Styling and casting : Devanshi Tuli
Hair : Akram Salmani
MUA: Bishu Sinha
Models : Kripali and Pooja Shree Rao
Videography : Piyush More
Productions : The AJ Productions
Photography assistant and Back stage photography : Mohit Bhatia
Styling assistants : Shivika Paliwal and Ayush Jain