Rohan Shivkumar’s ‘Lovely Villa’ refers to one of the apartment blocks in the LIC Colony built in the city’s Borivali suburb in 1970.

The evocatively titled Lovely Villa is a documentary about the links between architecture and emotion, memories of childhood and adolescence – and two fathers. 

One of them is the real father of the director of the film, Rohan Shivkumar. The other is a spiritual patriarch, the brilliant architect Charles Correa, who designed the housing complex to which Shivkumar’s family moved in the 1970s. Lovely Villa uses elements of personal documentary – photographs, philosophical voiceovers, home video footage – to explore the manner in which residents’ lives were influenced by Correa’s vision for “a mirror of the nation, in miniature”.

A sketch for LIC Colony in Borivali, Mumbai
A sketch for LIC Colony in Borivali, Mumbai © Charles Correa Foundation

In the 1970s, an insurance policy could get you an apartment in suburban Mumbai. Given the severe housing crunch in Mumbai today, how far have we come – or have we, in fact, regressed?

For better or worse, in the early years of Independence, the state saw itself as responsible for the provision of housing for its citizens. There were many schemes and projects that allowed it to experiment with different ideas. One of these was the Own Your Home scheme for policy holders that the LIC Colony was built under. 

After liberalisation and the state stepping back from the responsibility of providing housing while facilitating private developers to do so, these possibilities disappeared. With profit being the primary motive of developers, the diverse approaches to housing seemed to reduce, with the typical apartment block becoming the default mode through which many buildings were built. Housing projects began to cater to the aspirations of the middle classes for exclusive apartments – which meant a way for them to distance themselves from the city and its differences, whether they be those of caste, class or religion.