“Films and filmmaking have always fascinated Charles. In fact, he sees clear creative links between filmmaking and architecture. Architecture is also a succession of images, he says, the main difference is time” - From the film on Charles Correa directed by Arun Khopkar
Acclaim of Charles Correa’s path-breaking work is filling space in the world’s press and now time on TV screens since he left us on June 16. Given his iconic presence and an intellect that covered so many aspects of life and the Arts, it is strange that there seems to be only a single documentary made in India about him. Made in 2008, thanks largely to a generous grant from the Prince Claus Fund, it is titled “Volume Zero - The Work of Charles Correa” and directed by Arun Khopkar. The 58-minute film aired on NDTV on June 26, 2015.
In the film, Charles Correa quotes Louis Kahn, the noted American architect, who had bought an 8-volume edition of English history and read only one: “I don’t believe history started the way it started. I think it started before that. I want to read Volume Zero.” Hence the title of Khopkar’s film. It tells of Correa’s thesis for his Masters Degree in Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was unique. It was not the design of a building. It was a film – an animated film ‘You and Your Neighborhood – The Story of Urban Rehabilitation”.
In his film, Khopkar takes the viewer on an informed tour of some of Correa’s most applauded and successful buildings in India and abroad. They underline Correa’s humane, well-rooted approach to designing buildings. A building, he feels, must be attuned to the need, the soil, the climate, the culture and the history of the region where it will proclaim itself. Correa also took pride in his concept of non-buildings: imperceptible structures sculpted into the landscape. Architecture is sculpture, he says in the film, but it is sculpture that is put to use.
On quite another plane is a lyrical, intensely personal film on the mind and thinking of a genius, ‘Into the Unknown’, directed by Sankalp Meshram. It delves into the conceptual side of architecture. Produced by the Champalimaud Foundation in 2013, the 29-minute film deserves to be far better known. It is sharply focused on Correa’s inspiring and stunning Champalimaud ‘Centre for the Unknown’ in Lisbon, Portugal. It is his masterwork and swansong, encapsulating the many splendours of his art.
“Into the Unknown” starts with Correa’s emphatic voice. “What makes me most proud is that this project is NOT a Museum of Modern Art. On the contrary, it uses the highest levels of contemporary science and medicine to help people grappling with real problems; cancer, brain damage, going blind.”
Charles Correa respected this film – it seemed to convey correctly his thoughts and feelings cinematically....