Review

Banaras Pink review: An eye-opening film about a forgotten art form

Release Date: 17 Sep 2018 / 26min


Cinestaan Rating

  • Direction:
  • Story:

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Taking us through the bylanes of Banaras and evoking its traditions, the film traces the lineage of the craft and reflects upon the poetry that resides within each painstakingly created piece of Gulabi Meena.

Filmmaker Pearl Sandhu’s short documentary Banaras Pink is an exploration of a unique craft and aesthetic tradition – the Gulabi (or Pink) Meena. The film invokes the rich history of the holy city of Banaras, while opening up concerns about the vulnerable state of this particular craft, one that is intrinsically bound with the city that it was conceived in.

Taking us through the bylanes of Banaras and evoking its traditions, Sandhu’s film traces the lineage of the craft and reflects upon the poetry that resides within each painstakingly created piece of Gulabi Meena. Jeweller Raman Pandya emphasises that the Meenakar is an artist, who receives training from ‘ustads’. Thus, each piece of Gulabi Meena is a work of art.

Banaras Pink offers a reflection on the artist and his creation, while tracing the erosion of the appreciation of their art. As is the fate of innumerable crafts in India, in a marketplace besieged with cheap imitations, Gulabi Meena finds itself engaged in a battle to save itself from extinction.

The film was an eye-opener for several members of the audience as many have heard of the famous Banarasi sarees and Banarasi paan but Gulabi Meena does not feature in the list of the crafts of Banaras. Sandhu acknowledged this fact saying that the pieces of Gulabi Meena mostly exist in foreign museums but people in India do not know about this unique craft.

Responding to questions from the audience after the screening of the film, the filmmaker spoke about the distinction between the makers of Gulabi Meena as being craftsmen or artists, saying that there is no standard product that is created by the makers of this craft and each craftsperson has their own sensibility which is reflected in their works.

Furthermore, the craftsperson offers inputs on what would suit the wearer, modelling the piece according to their imagination, thus making it not only difficult for them to standardise and cater to large orders, but also to firmly establish the makers of Gulabi Meena as artists who conceive products in the mind’s eye before giving them form. 

Banaras Pink was screened at the PSBT Open Frame Film Festival on 17 September 2018 at the India International Centre, New Delhi.