House in Kerala Invite 1 small

Sudesh Unniraman has been a documentary filmmaker for 20 odd yrs now and has filmed some fascinating topics like Unusual Indian Businesses for BBC, The Luxury Trains of India for Discovery Channel and Sonepur ka Mela– the biggest animal fair in Asia. But I’d like to throw some light on his film A House from Kerala which is being screened today21st Aug’14, at IIC, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi- 6:30 p.m. for all design, culture and architecture buffs.

He as a filmmaker felt a compulsion to document this dismantling and assembling of a 300 yrs. old house, highlighting the loss of great talent and intangible knowledge passed down the centuries by generations of mastercraftsmen, orally. The wooden house was bought over by his architect friend Pradeep Sachdeva from a Syrian Christian family. The entire family had apparently moved away from their village, for a better living and had expressed their desire of selling this architectural specimen to Pradeep, as they feared the locals would cannibalize it, if left empty for long. Within a year the house was resurrected to its original glory at the architect’s farmhouse in Sultanpur for his personal use, on the outskirts of Delhi.

Back in the village the ground floor had stilts made of brick and mortar while the first floor completely with wood which was marvelously put together without any nails. The big rooms on this floor were used to store grains and the smaller ones were filled with spices. Thoughtfully this granary was built on the first floor as it saved the perishable items from any damage during floods or other epidemics, being situated near a river.

Pradeep narrated an interesting episode which revered the religious sentiments of Narayan,‘Asari’– the master craftsman, who devoutly went to the local temple and prayed for the hurdles to be removed; attributing to some local and the logistic issues which magically vanished after that ritual. According to him the boutique hotels are the only ones who can do full justice to such timeless construction, since they get their money’s worth in maintaining a white elephant, in today’s day and age. 

The architecture of Kerala has been influenced by Dravidian and Indian Vedic science (Vaastu Shastra) over two millenniums. Tantrasamuchaya, Thachu-Shastra, Manushyalaya-Chandrika and Silparatna are important architectural sciences, which have had a strong impact on the state’s architectural style. Manushyalaya-Chandrika is a branch devoted to domestic architecture. It has evolved from the region’s peculiar climate and long history of influences of its major maritime trading partners like Chinese, Arabs and Europeans (Wikipedia.com).

Sudesh, is a Mallu (an ethnic slur for the people of Kerala) who is born in his home state, brought up in Delhi and married to a Punjabi from south India; all these cultural influences have only egged him further to document his life’s journeys, full of anecdotes, in a picture book. Travels have equipped him better for his craft, since filmmaking is a combination of reality with an element of fiction.

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Sudesh Unniraman +91 9810599892