For well-known architect Charles Correa, the idea of processional movement in temples lends itself to open-to-sky spaces. It was one of the cardinal principles of his housing design. Lovely Villa — Architecture as Autobiography, a 30-minute film directed by Mumbai-based architect and urban designer Rohan Shivkumar and filmmaker-cinematographer Avijit Mukul Kishore, is a conversation around Correa’s LIC Colony in the coastal suburb of Borivali, a housing project in the early ’70s in Mumbai. It stages the quotidian rituals of life, of kneading relationships and the memory of home. Through old photographs, drawings, film clips, and a rather personal narrative, it weaves in the larger imagination of the city and state. Shivkumar dwells on the “home as a witness”, where between whispers and embrace lie the infinite moments of life.
What were you looking for when you conceptualised Lovely Villa?
We are all marked by the architecture of the homes we live in. Lovely Villa was the name of the apartment building where I grew up. Designed by Correa, the colony was around a hill with a grove of mango trees. I was interested in the way that the modern Indian state imagined its citizenry through the architecture imagined for them. The film was meant to be an exploration of the architecture of the colony as someone who had grown up in such an imagination. I was interested in the way that space stages narratives, and how narratives transform space.
‘Architecture’ in the film is not merely the built spaces that we live in, but also the ‘architecture’ or the structuring of family, and by extension of society itself. One of the key concepts of the film is the relationship between architecture and its power to structure life.
We hoped that through the telling of a story that was personal and intimate one could also tell a story of larger transformations, of home, architecture and citizenship. This is also a story of fathers, my own father, Correa and by extension, perhaps the ‘paternalistic’ state.