In ‘The Beginnings’ chapter of the film ‘Doshi I’, BV Doshi discusses his early life’s sojourn, as an architect who travelled to work with Le Corbusier in Paris and then returned to India to then become his apprentice for his buildings here. Life took varied unexpected yet welcoming turns that he whole heartedly accepted. He addresses the domino effect and chain of actions and reactions that bought him to where he eventually belonged, many he thought were unpredictable.
“The story is very simple, allow life to take its own course, and you will be taken where you are supposed to go.” – BV Doshi
Chapter 1 – ‘Eight months with olives and cheese’
Balkrishna Doshi was instrumental in conceptualising and setting up one of the best schools of architecture in India, the Centre of Environment, Planning and Technology (CEPT), in Ahmedabad. Many influential decisions at the time brought about this conception to which Charles Correa, Rahul Mehrotra, Neelkanth Chhaya, Nimish Patel, Giovanni Leone and Sen Kapadia further add its relevance to. The chapter also shows the passion with which Doshi talks about the school, it is what brings about the sparkle in his eyes.
The chapter ‘Eight months with olive and cheese’, addresses the concerns and hardships that he faced while starting as a newcomer but believed that he was always doing the right thing, and that it was meant to be.
Chapter 2 – ‘I’m not an architect… for me it’s a search’
Through this chapter one experiences the journey of building the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, through Doshi’s own visions and perceptions. As Graham Morrison says in the film, “ … my consciousness about our visit to the management institute, was the breathtaking simplicity with which everything was achieved, I call it ‘architecture without adjectives’… it was humbling to have come across this building, that did everything, we could have wanted to do ourselves, decades before we haven’t really experienced it yet.”
“.. For me, it’s the search for the unknown, the search for what I have not known … it begins somewhere, ends somewhere, in the process I grow and the work grows, we grow together.” – BV Doshi
Chapter 3 – ‘Indian plan is not centric’
What is the idea of ‘Indian-ness’? There are clues all around the Indian way of life, the culture, the clothes they wear, the turbans that are traditionally worn and the essence of responding to the climate and creating a life around it. In this third chapter of the film ‘Doshi’, Balkrishna Doshi opines about what it means to belong to Indian culture, and as an architect. Examples surround us in these simple yet effective mechanisms within cultures, to identify these age-old techniques and further incorporate them into the design of spaces. This, as Doshi explains, becomes the the key to observing, learning and further executing.
Chapter 4 – ‘You are representing God’
Chapter four of the film ‘Doshi’ addresses the primary way of thinking that architects deliberate on when they decide to design for their clients. Instead of thinking of it as an ordinary job, BV Doshi instigates the architect to treat themselves as representatives of a higher power who is building a temple for his client. Here, he references to the various housing complexes he has designed and the way people have adapted to them over a period of time.
“As architects, we must look at housing as a place where communities can continue to thrive over generations, because they have the house as a part of them, accommodating their life and changes.” – BV Doshi
Chapter 5 – ‘The end result is not as exciting as the process’
The convergence of art, architecture and design can be a unique and exciting confluence. BV Doshi discusses this phenomena and his interactions with M.F. Husain of a time when the construction of the Amdavad ni Gufa (Cave of Ahmedabad, built in 1995), earlier called the Husain-Doshi Gufa, was under process.
“I am very glad that Husain mentioned, the process is very important… how will you enjoy the food if you didn’t know where it was coming from and how it was cooked.” – BV Doshi
Chapter 6 – ‘Architecture is a matter of transformation’
The passion with which Doshi built the institution, School of Architecture in Ahmedabad (Centre of Environmental Planning and Techonology, CEPT), can be seen even today in the way students and teachers respect, communicate and solemnise this legacy. His students became his extended family, and the school his temple of solace. In this chapter, Charles Correa and Jaimini Mehta talk about adaptations in architecture and learning from the masters, and Nimish Patel discusses what it meant to be taught by Doshi at the school.
“For me, Doshi, as a teacher, as a human being, is as important as him being an architect. His contributions in both these other fields are so enormous that they can never be judged.” – Nimish Patel
Chapter 7 – ‘Human being, by nature, is a warm and compassionate animal’
This chapter of the film series ‘Doshi’ brings about the kindness, warmth and generous side of BV Doshi. In today’s time, gentleness and compassion for all is a rare occurrence, especially for someone of his stature. This chapter shows these qualities that he imbibed in his life through the very welcoming and ever-changing yet timeless home that he has lived in for years, to the way he has a simple yet enriched family life. The value that Doshi created in the lives of all he touched, has been incomparable, almost without any knowledge of him knowing the impact he has created.
Chapter 8 – ‘So what is our heritage?’
In the last chapter of the film “Doshi”, BV Doshi talks about the status quo in the field of architecture and its students in India. He turns back to history, showing us how they had done it through simple yet easy techniques at the Sarkhej Roza in Ahmedabad. The intentions by architects can mean a lot for our urban development, its people and he urges one to rethink the role of architects, who must think out of their mundane tasks about the larger public realm.
“How come we don’t think about this public realm..?
We don’t talk about people, communities, them rejoicing, we don’t have urban development at all.
We, don’t say, gentlemen here is our new heritage,
Not expensive, do you think collecting water is expensive?
Using sun and light and shadow and sun and showing people the play of volumes and sculptures and music is expensive? It things are good, people will come and dance, if they are not there they won’t come and dance…
There is a beauty that comes from the subtle nuances of volumes and surfaces, look at the skyline now, look at the skills, it is not the monumentality or the size, now we only talk about the price and the value and the cost of things…” – BV Doshi ( at the Sarkhej Roza, Ahmedabad)
BV Doshi believes in the cyclical nature of Karma, the belief that what goes around comes around, with respect to all deeds – good and bad. He has applied this philosophy to all the ups and downs in his life, even when he faced a difficult time during the design and building of the Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai in 1985. He believes it must be a part of the debt that is pending to be repaid. His holistic, yet so sorted and positive way of looking at life as an architect, but more so as a human being can make anyone turn more humane and always look at the good in every situation. Something that comes naturally to him, but someone else might miss out in the mundane routine of things.
“Karma is something you can’t stop.
Only when an account is settled, can we be freed from it.
Either I owe you or you owe me, that is why you are where you are.
Nothing is planned, it was all planned long ago.” – BV Doshi
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