||I want to change the image of India
Manu Rewal interviewed by Sambhavika Sharma
Tehelka.com, February 6, 2002.
Why did you chose Le Corbusier and his architectural
work as a subject for your documentary?
My appetite for the subject had been whetted
by a previous film I had made on the city of Chandigarh, as part of a series
of films on architecture. I had touched upon Le Corbusiers contributions,
but I felt the need to try and make a more ambitious film.
I sensed that Le Corbusiers adventure in India
held the promise of a rich and complex film, as these were the works of
one of the important architects of the twentieth century.
Although some films have been made on Chandigarh in
the past, mostly by Europeans, his story has never been covered the way
I intended it to be. My intention was not only to tell the story of Le
Corbusiers interactions with India, but also to analyse the architecture
of the city and the buildings of Chandigarh and his lesser known, but
no less significant, works in Ahmedabad.
The idea was to meet as many of Le Corbusiers
assistants and associates who are still alive and also to meet contemporary
architectural historians and critics in order to get different perspectives
on these works. I was not at all interested in doing a purely laudatory
film in which one praises a great mans works. . It seemed much more
interesting to try and see what worked and what didnt in Le Corbusier
and his teams bold and innovative experiments.
And how was the whole
It was a tough but great experience. As I started
research in India, I contacted various partners for the project. Unfortunately,
Doordarshan, which had initially given me a positive response, backed
out when they realized the project needed more financial backing than
they realized. They even rejected the concept of co-production with a
French company. Somehow I managed to convince another production company
to complete the project. Although it should not have taken me more than
six months, it took me a full three years. But my film has been sent to
various film festivals and has won the Muestra intemacional de Patrimonio
Arquitectonico (MIPA) jury award as well as the Architecture award at
the UNESCO film festival on art and education in December 2001.
What kind of an audience do you have in mind for your
One can only try and make the film in such a way that it interests people.
I had something like this in mind when I started off with the project.
I wanted to remove all jargon so that maximum people could have access
to it. I also wanted to give a different image of India than the one usually
presented in the western media. Maharajas, poverty, and religion are still
the dominant images linked to India. I want to change this image of India.
Why is it that almost
all documentary films that you have made are about architecture ?
The first documentary I worked on was for my
father, who is an architect. After that, I slowly got interested in the
subject and I just carried on with it. I was always keen on making a fiction
film but never got the opportunity. Now I am planning one. It is in fact,
quite difficult to make a fiction movie essentially because of the lack
of financial backing, especially if you happen to stay in Delhi since
it is not where the film industry is located in India.