Neelam Cinema

Besides Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew there were various Indian architects who helped build Chandigarh. Among them was Aditya Prakash. One of his buildings is the Neelam Cinema in Sector 17.

chandigarh05

For a project of the scale of Chandigarh, Le Corbusier depended on local associates who had trained in Europe to help him implement his ideas and oversee the building process in his absence. After all he would only come twice per year for periods ranging from several weeks to three months.¬†In a way this was similar to Tokyo’s Museum of Western Art, which saw Le Corbusier’s former atelier workers Sakakura, Maekawa and Yoshizaka supervise the building process and also develop the detail drawings.

Aditya Prakash joined the team of nine junior Indian architects in 1952, just a year after he graduated from the London Polytechnic. He stayed involved with the Capital Project until the early sixties and was responsible for various buildings as well as central planning documents.¬†Prakash was also behind adapting some of Le Corbusier’s ideas to Chandigarh’s torrid heat, i.e using deeper verandas instead of sunbreakers used in European houses. Contrary to some of his Indian colleagues, who described Le Corbusier as not having deeper insights into India than a regular tourist, Prakash had a more favourable verdict of the master:

Le Corbusier wanted to show a modern democratic India, and he succeeds by using equal elements to create a rippling, beautiful rhythm. He was rather brash and impatient – he treated us like uninitiated children – but he helped us to realize our own country.

sector 17 cinema

The cinema in the central section of Sector 17 fits neatly into the overall design of the city. It remains almost unchanged to this day. Its dynamic, curved roof can be appreciated best from the blueprint which I found on the Aditya Prakash Foundation site. Another beautiful impression comes from the inside of the building here.

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