In 2010, I wrote about Himanshu Verma‘s saree act after I saw a powerful image in local news. It was ABSOLUTELY most amazing for me to find him randomly (through common friends) on Facebook. It took me exactly 30 seconds afterwards to send him a fan-girl message. Himanshu was kind enough to readily respond and I promptly sent in a flurry of questions, later realising, these were perhaps inappropriate for a Facebook “chat” box. I shared my Email, and he sent in his phone number.
At Costa, while waiting for friends I dialed in. Himanshu spoke with utmost kindness, without much hurry. There was clarity and poise in the conversation, perhaps a lot like the Sarees he dons.
- How did the Saree love start?
The Saree man: I started wearing Sarees from 2006. Of course one starts wearing Sarees mothers drape one. It began with me borrowing Sarees from my mother, but now I have more Sarees than her, so she borrows from me. I’m very clear that I am a man. I do not see this as me wanting to be a woman. Everyone in the art circle realises that this is not about cross-dressing. I am in love with drapes, and I see the Saree as a male garment (also from the time where men and women wore similar garments/drapes).
- How about any criticism considering how lopsided the mainstream media is about set gender expectations?
The Saree man: Largely there has been a positive response. Of course there will always be people who will talk weird, projecting their own insecurities. My family sort of expected me to do something different, I’ve always been rebellious and this is just an extension of that. In the art world, the response has been encouraging.
Himanshu curates art (e.g. photographs, textiles, music, and of course Sarees) see more here.
As a family Saree lover originating from seeing mom wear Sarees everyday to work, and being able to look for exclusivity in the fabrics and designs unendingly with sister and mom, I have grown up to believe that it is the best dress there is. I previously always believed that no other garment is so flattering for women, but the Saree man is making me see that the limitation to gender is something that I created in my own head.
Himanshu recently organized the Saree festival in Delhi. So exciting: I can’t wait to get to one like that! While I appreciate the poise, the courage and the classiness Himanshu exhibits through his art or just the tasteful way in which he projects himself, I am unsure if I could be as brave. I do question myself on whether it is about courage or more about finding such a passion. I am convinced there’s no age limit to discovering new passions, so I am hopeful that these small encounters and stories of inspiration are getting me somewhere. All the dots must one time connect- after all there are no coincidences.
A big shout out to Himanshu for his time, and now I am pegging hopes on meeting him in person sometime! What a star :)!