...  “We had to think about how cinema can negotiate other art forms,” says Meshram, who has written, directed and edited the documentary films Girija – A Lifetime in Music, Into the Unknown – The Architecture of Charles Correa and Lasya Kavya – The World of Alarmel Valli. The three films, which will be screened at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) on Sunday, showcase the director’s cinematic exploration of architecture and classical music and dance.

Charles Correa and Alarmel Valli, made by FTII alumnus Sankalp Meshram (right) will be screened
Charles Correa and Alarmel Valli, made by FTII alumnus Sankalp Meshram (right) will be screened


The subjects of the three films, all Padma Vibhushan awardees, and strong personalities, had a vision of how they wanted to be represented, recalls Meshram. The filmmaker adopted different strategies for each film because each subject was different. “The points of entry are different and the material to work with is different. Managing the material, and in the end keeping the cinematic value of the film, is the filmmaker’s problem,” he says. “At its worst, cinema can be a photographic record of other art forms. But, as a filmmaker, when you enter into a dialogue with these art forms, cinema does not have to become a mute recording slave. It can be an interpretation in which the filmmaker creates a negotiated middle ground that does not dilute the cinematic dimension of the film,” explains Meshram.

It was after graduating from FTII, when Meshram began assisting filmmaker Arun Khopkar, that he met the late architect Charles Correa. He shared a two-decade-long close association with the architect, during which time they worked on creating four films together. “Back then I knew nothing about architecture. I receive tutoring from the best teacher in the world after meeting Correa,” says the filmmaker. Correa’s architecture does not exist in solitude, but it is steeped in culture, people, history, mythology and the aspirations of society, explains Meshram, whose film Into the Unknown – The Architecture of Charles Correa is a documentary on The Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, a research and diagnostic centre designed by Correa in Lisbon, Portugal. Correa was so interested in film that for his dissertation submitted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he created an animation film, informs Meshram. “It was one of my greatest joys to continuously discuss the common space between cinema and architecture with Correa. This film is a culmination of that long dialogue,” he says.