FOR CLASSICAL DANCE
| TVS Mani, the proprietor
of Shanthi Tailors, is not just another tailor. A specialist
in designing costumes for Classical Indian Dance, Mani also runs the
Tamil monthly, Oolaga Thyyarkalaiganan, exclusively devoted
to tailoring. A dedicated businessman, he was also instrumental in
the formation of a Welfare association for the tailoring community
in Chennai. He was awarded the Natya Odai Rathinam by
Vakkirisami Pillai and the Pinnudathaiyellur
(Honest Tailor) award from the Shanmuganandha Bharatnatyam School.
www.chennaibest.com spoke to this Dance Costume designer.
What motivated you to choose this profession?
Was it in the family?
Nobody in my family hailed from this profession. I was the first one
to take up this profession and pursue it as a career. I came to Chennai
for my Schooling. Unfortunately or fortunately, I do not know, I could
not continue in School. It was at that time that I contemplated Tailoring
as an option. I liked the idea of designing Dance costumes. I decided
to pursue this idea further. That's how it all happened. As for the
motivation factor, I was deeply influenced by the Thirukkural.
How long have you been designing?
For the past thirty years.
Do you design exclusively for Bharatanatyam?
No. I design for all Classical Indian Dances. Since Chennai
is a hub for Bharatanatyam, most of my orders will be from this segment.
What new patterns and designs have you introduced?
Most of it is in Bharatanatyam. The three-pleats dance costume was
in vogue for a long time. At present the V-shaped fan is very popular.
This is called Rama style, after the name of the artist.
Usually, a new design is identified with the artist who wears it for
the first time. Then the Kalakshetra style is also very
What type of material is used for designing
a Bharatanatyam costume?
Usually three types of material are widely used. Pure Kancheepuram
Silk sarees, Dharmavaram sarees and China silk. Polycot varieties
are also used.
Which is the most popular of all these?
Approxiametly, how much time is needed for tailoring
a Bharatanatyam costume?
This is not a one-man show. We work here as a team. Different people
do the cutting, stitching and ironing. On an average, we can deliver
dress in a single day.
What is the cost involved in getting a costume
starts from Rs1,800/-. The maximum is Rs.5,000/-. It also depends
on the type of material that is to be stitched.
How many people are involved in the team?
Who make up your Clientele?
Dancers right from 5 to 50 years of age. I design for both men and
women. Most often customers are recommended and sent here.
What is the secret of success as a dance costume
There are four actors involved in designing a costume. Teacher, Parents,
Tailor and the Artiste. Each one has a different viewpoint and ideas
on how the material is to be stitched. An intelligent designer will
always rely on psychology. The designer has to listen patiently to
the ideas suggested and then balance those with the anatomy. Tailoring
done without taking the anatomy into account will be useless. Aspects
like broad shoulders, height and occasion have to be taken into account.
I think this has helped a lot. Today, my customers place orders from
abroad; for themselves and for their students.
you designed costumes for films?
Yes. I did. But you will not see my name there. I usually do not approach
Directors. They come to me. To name a few films - Mythili Ennai
Kadhali and Kadhalan.
Who are the major artistes that you have designed
costumes for? I would not like to be identified as a designer
for a particular artiste. I would rather appreciate if the artiste
felt proud to have chosen me as her designer.
Have you any plans for modernisation?
is very difficult in this type of costume designing. This profession
is directly linked to our culture. Changes have to fit into this cultural
framework. That is very important.
Why is it called 'Shanthi' Tailors?
Yes. That's a good question. My first customer was Shanthi. It
is after her that this place is named. Later on, when I got married,
it so happened that my wife was also called Shanthi. Many think that
it is named after her (my wife). But it is not so.
Address: Shanthi Tailors, #6, Kapaleeswarar Sannathi street,
Mylapore, Chennai 600 004
Phone: 494 3783
Author: Poornima S