House of qidwa Yasmin kidwai
House of qidwa Yasmin kidwai
In 1998 I was sitting alone in a cyber cafe, typing up a proposal for a film I wanted to make.
I’d never made a film before.
And yet, I loved the visual medium.
I loved sparking conversations. I didn’t need to be the centre but I enjoyed moderating them.
And with the assuredness of a much younger person, I knew that a film would be the form for me to do all that I wanted.
Those foundational ideas took the initial form of a film company. I wanted to suggest surprise, energy, mystery, freshness and newness - therefore Springbox Films.
We were off and running.
A team began to form – in some ways, like-minded and yet confident of holding conflicting opinions.
We were all products of our times – the 90s - when fundamentalism rose up against the comfortable world of the liberal. Suddenly people were proud to have certain identities.
We could not escape what was around us.
We wanted to unpack the contradictions around us - where the sharp lines of Western and Asian would be challenged, where comfortable dichotomies of conservative versus liberal would be questioned, where there were no easy identities and a space for many voices would be created.
Was modernity marked by sartorial choices like Western Wear? What were the expectations of a veiled woman and what of those who had never worn one? Which was the freer option or was neither as simple as ‘free’ or ‘chained’?
We explored notions through films like Purdah hai Purdah were we looked at how the veil sharply divided opinions.
Through Chukker: around polo we created unusual juxtapositions -new audiences and for the first time ever in India corporate funding and offline crowd funding for a documentary.
Springbox’s paradigm grew to include acting as a catalyst for real and measurable change.
We felt that it is not enough for films to live their lives in boxes that are never opened. Or be shown in festivals.
Film must reach the people they were intended for, whose stories were told and also those who after viewing the same, can make a difference in a concrete manner.
Recently while working on the award winning documentary No Problem! We could sense the potential impact it would have on the lives of the viewers and the subjects.
We wanted to take the film beyond the conventional festival audience. And yet this film won over 15 international awards at festivals worldwide.
For the company, the film is already a success because post the film’s international release, more and more people were interested in the Barefoot College and the stories being created there.
The Barefoot College has ceased to be a footnote in books on Indian Innovation and instead gained respect, funding and a wider audience.
No Problem! has helped to put the two together - those in need and those in a position to help. Platforms had been created for dialogue and interaction - that had never existed before.
It is a remarkable feeling - the vindication of a fundamental idea.
That coexistence is possible when we allow ourselves to admit that our very thoughts are still forming.
That’s what happened to Springbox.
Slowly but deliberately, we began to grow and change.
If people and therefore companies are an extension of ideas, then everything about them must reflect that fact.
Thus was born House of Qidwa - an eclectic and exclusive clothing collection that draws from influences Indian and Western to create garments that are syncretistic in their final form.
It asks - who is to define what Indian is? Why should flowing body-covering garments be regressive? Why should Western mean progressive?
House of Qidwa is an ongoing dialogue that has space for everyone as long as they are willing to listen as well as speak.
Some have called the clothes we make Sufi, implying openness. But that is only part of the point - House of Qidwa garments spark conversations, like Springbox Films does, juxtaposing the conventional and unconventional, to create an ongoing dialogue with each one of us.
Today it is dialogue we are most interested in – how we can communicate, how we can work together. We want to take our films and our work to as many platforms as possible. We are seeking co-travellers who are interested in walking new roads with us. We are looking to be partners.
Yasmin Kidwai has produced and/ or directed over 50 documentaries related to issues such as women's empowerment; women's reservation; old age issues and tourism. She has also worked extensively with government agencies and NGOs across India. Kidwai was on the governing body of two prestigious women's colleges in New Delhi: Kamla Nehru College and Gargi College. She is also the treasurer of Kamla Nehru College. Besides films related to urban and rural development; Kidwai has made numerous films