STIR had the chance to meet with architect Rohan Shivkumar and filmmaker Avijit Mukul Kishore at the Frame Conclave 2019 in Goa, where they presented two of their films, Nostalgia for the Future and the recently released Lovely Villa. A unique yet effective synergy between an architect and a filmmaker, we had an open, friendly and warm conversation with the very frank and outspoken duo who are well-known for their works in their respective fields. The films attempt to narrate a non-prescriptive outlook on what the idea of the ‘home’ and its relevance to a citizen of a developing nation like India means. Sewed together with a poetic quality of articulated film-making, curated using precise tools through a selection of astute examples, the films bring out a subtle yet impactful chronicle from a macro to micro level viewpoint.
The first film Nostalgia for the Future delves into the aspect of how the aspirations of a developing nation that discuss how the ‘home’, its desires and executions changed over the years for an independent India. With a selection of four well thought-through and critical projects used as tools to narrate the story, the film leaves one provoked and pondering of the lineage and legacy of housing and urban infrastructure that lies in our hands today.
The second film Lovely Villa brings a micro level viewpoint of the same scenario, that narrates the story of how a home, in this case the home of Shivkumar himself, moulded their lives in a housing colony designed by famed architect Charles Correa. One is left with many thoughts; of how such a scenario is generic, however, less thought of and paid attention to in generic terms and applies to each one of us on how important a home and its making can affect how we live, function and thus become a part of nation building.
Below are excerpts from the intriguing conversation with the filmmakers.
Nostalgia for the Future
Direction: Avijit Mukul Kishore and Rohan Shivkumar
“The ‘modern’ Indian nation was born in the utopian zeal of creating a new model of citizenry. This new citizen was supposed to inhabit a world that was born anew from what were seen as the old-fashioned and feudal systems of the past. 'Nostalgia for the Future’ is an exploration of that aspiration towards modernity in the way it imagined the intimate spaces that this ideal citizenry was to inhabit. It is a cinematic exploration of architecture and modernity in India, over the period of over a century.
The film focuses on four distinct imaginations of ‘homes’ for the modern Indian nation: the Lukshmi Vilas Palace at Baroda, a gigantic palace built for a progressive, benevolent monarch in the late 19th Century; the Villa Shodhan in Ahmedabad, a private residence designed by Le Corbusier, in which the film explores domesticity within Nehruvian modernity; the Sabarmati Ashram where the Gandhian aspirations of the nation-state can be seen; and public housing in post-independence Delhi designed by the Government of India to house refugees from Pakistan and the bureaucrats of the newly independent nation.
The film explores these through the evocation of the cinematic and aural collective memory of the nation trying to reinvent itself. As a result, it uses a mix of formats - digital video, 16mm film and archival footage from mainstream cinema and state propaganda.”
- Rohan Shivkumar and Avijit Mukul Kishore
Lovely Villa: Architecture as Autobiography
Director: Rohan Shivkumar
Associate Director: Avijit Mukul Kishore
Produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust
“Every house is haunted by the spirits of those are yet to come, and of those that came before. We are all marked by the architecture of the homes we live in.
‘Lovely Villa’ is the name of the apartment building where the filmmaker grew up in as he studied to become an architect. It is in LIC colony designed by Charles Correa and represents an imagination of the ideal community for a modern India. The film explores the architecture of the colony through a personal narrative. Using found materials, like old photographs and drawings, and stories that range from family histories and other narratives — both semi-fictional and documentary, the film highlights some of the specific architectural gestures of the project.
This is a film about the relationship between architecture, everyday life, family, coming of age and the memory of ‘home’.”
- Rohan Shivkumar and Avijit Mukul Kishore
(Discussions with Rohan Shivkumar and Avijit Mukul Kishore at the Frame Conclave 2019)