The first time I met Ghulam Bhai, I wasn’t sure if I was excited or scared or worried about giving my precious silk saris to a total stranger to cut into little pieces.
I found his shop down a dingy corridor in Tardeo’s AC Market, in Mumbai and ended up spending 4 hours with the authority of dance costume design in India. We heard stories about Hema Malini’s tantrums, his first press interviews, and a sharara of Mumtaz’s that had to be stretched out inch by inch (by hand!) the night before a film shoot, using water and a steam iron.
He was silently decisive about what to do with the saris I had brought him. I tried to tell him how I wanted what, terrified that my beautiful saris would be done wrong. After listening to me patiently for a few minutes he held up a hand and said “Beta, mujhe mera kaam karne do.”
Let me do what I do best, my child.
That was over 5 years ago. Today, I have been back to this little shop multiple times and only own stunning costumes made by his experienced, perfectionist hands – that you can barely see moving when he stitches up a newly pleated sari. Thank you Ghulam Bhai! You’re a star.
Tardeo, Mumbai, March 2011.