Absolut Art Bar at Palais de Tokyo

Interview with Manish Arora about his film Holi Holi (supported by The Absolut Company), premiered at the Asvoff 6 coctail preview:

- Can you tell us what Holi is all about and what your film aims to show?

Holi is one of my favorite festivals in India where people come together and play with color. However, there has been an old tradition that doesn’t allow widows to wear colors. They are supposed to wear white clothes for the rest of their lives after their husband died, especially in small towns like Veranasi where the festival takes place. It is rather sad and I take it as a comfort zone: how could someone not be allowed to touch color. Things suddenly changed recently. I’ve read an article in March saying they would be allowed to wear colors for the first time in 2013. This led to the idea of making this movie.

- We would have expected something more psychedelic or pop considering the tone of your collections. How come it isn’t?

This is due to the story! I wanted to respect it and then, go into colors.The film becomes more colorful after 30/40 seconds. But I wanted people, especially the ones from the rest of the world, to get the point about widows in white!

- Was it important that this first movie project was related to India?

I think also my future works will! I cannot forget where I come from as this is my advantage. Obviously, when you look at my last show, it sounds like Art Deco but the workmanship is Indian. My pop-up store now at Galerie Joyce is all about my culture.

- Do you consider it a challenge to collaborate with a film director? Were you in a fusional relationship or did you have to find compromises in the creative process?

We used to be very good friends when I was 20, so it should have helped, but we lost each other. And it happened recently that we were seated next to each other on the same flight from San Francisco to Paris. I told him about my project and he’s the one who called me back and wanted to make a fashion film. He had a different approach: hand-held camera and fast filming. I had to convince him to make it as a big landscape.

- In what aspects was Bishi a key element in this film?

I wanted someone with a strong presence, the power of a real woman. If not, the film would have been more ordinary. Bishi is a performer, her movements are so elegant in the movie. She has Indian origins too. She could support the whole cultural background. A regular model would have been totally lost in that.

- Was it a special experience for her?

She obviously felt it and therefore it works! Even if conditions were hard because she never lived in India : there are floods at this period, she had to wear a corset for hours, starting at 4 am. But at the moment we were filming she could say : “Oh my god, I can feel it, like the feeling of a goddess...”. She’s a messenger to me, saying to rest of the world: “okay, let them wear colors...”

- What was the involvement of the Absolut Company here? What was it about your idea that they liked?

They decided to support us because they considered the topic relevant about the liberation of women. They like unconventional and atypical projects. For them, it was more than just another fashion project...

- How do you perceive the work of The Absolut Company with art and artists in general?

I think it is one of the very rare supporting companies that is always related to arts, all is about art. The way they promote themselves is also creative. They have succeeded in the idea that now people expect from them what will be the next creative initiative, and not the next product or campaign.