New sari app tutorial saves the day

New sari app tutorial saves the day

The world's first step-by-step sari tying tutorial for the iPhone aims to save us from near complete cultural retardation when it comes to traditional dressing
Sari app
Various regional sari draping styles will be added gradually as upgrades, says Sharma.

Standing in front of a mirror staring hopelessly at a stack of safety pins with six yards of fabric strewn around, modern Mumbai girls often wonder why they didn’t pay more attention to how mum did it. How she expertly wove, pleated and draped her sari, freestyle, no pins, so that it wouldn't unravel midway through the main course.

Bhavna Sharma is no different. Except that she has technology on her side.

So, enlisting the assistance of her husband, iOS developer and Apple fan-boy Siddhartha "Sid" Banerjee, Sharma spearheaded the creation of the world’s first ever sari app.

“Like every young Indian girl, I grew up watching my mum drape her sari so I learnt from observation," says Sharma, a 30-year-old creative and strategic planner at a Mumbai advertising agency. "I remember clapping out loud each time she successfully folded her pleats in the front. Mum would say draping a sari was an art, and one I should learn soon.” 

She might have saved herself some embarrassment at her own wedding reception.

“That was my first encounter draping a sari unassisted. Once ready as per my standards, ensuring all loose ends were hidden away into the petticoat, I strutted rather confidently, but within minutes of making my public appearance, my sister and mum hurriedly whisked me away.

"Apparently the pleats were uneven at the bottom, my toes were visible and the pleating in front made me look a tad pregnant,” Sharma recalls.

Once married, it took the help of her husband to hold the pleats and a 45-minute preparation window, if draping a sari was involved.

A sari tutorial for all time

Siddhartha Banerjee and Bhavna SharmaThe sari software team: Siddhartha Banerjee and wife Bhavna Sharma.Sharma tried online video guides on how to tie a sari but found them unhelpful.

So she began to put together her own guidelines.

Even as the idea of creating a sari tutorial was gestating, the couple developed the Meter Down iPhone app, an instantly successful cab and auto fare-calculating mobile app which has been downloaded almost 14,000 times.

It was just the prod Sharma needed.

“I was convinced that there’s definitely a market for a simple yet useful app like ‘How to drape a sari’ so I partnered with Sid to create a first-of-its-kind mobile app on step-by-step sari draping,” she says.

Now, while there are several regional and modern variations to draping a sari, their app sticks to the most popular style known as the ‘seedha pala’ or Nivi style.

“This is the more urban drape, widely accepted and worn. Other styles will be added gradually as upgrades,” says Sharma.

While Sharma took creative charge overseeing the text, script, directing the tutorial video and designing the user interface of the app, the tutorial sketches were done by fashion school NIFT alumni and faculty Devika Pathak.

That's a wrap

Four months of team-building, scripting, execution, design and coding resulted in ‘Sari’, an app which has just been reviewed and approved by Apple.

Besides technical testing, the tutorial has been guinea-pigged on friends in India and abroad.

“Friends here found helpful tips they hadn’t known before, such as that a well-draped sari must cover your toes and just graze the floor. While friends abroad found the FAQ section extremely practical and helpful," says Sharma.

However, unlike Meter Down, Sari isn’t a free app. The price is likely to vary from country to country ranging from US $1.99 in Asia, the Middle East and America, to GBP 1.19 in UK and Euro 1.59 in the E.U.

Though the Indian diaspora is the target audience for the Sari app, Sharma also knows that many of us right here in cosmopolitan Mumbai could secretly use some help at the touch of a button too.

Sari is an iOS app for iPod touch, iPhone3G, iPhone3GS and iPhone4, basically anything running on iOS 3.2 or later. Download the Sari app here.

Udita is an entertainment and lifestyle writer and author based in Mumbai.

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