This dissertation aims to study the ‘Filmic House’ in Hindi cinema, a popular cultural medium, from an architectural standpoint by a systematic exploration of its architectural space. The domestic space is a most common cinematic image. In many cases, it forms the principal setting and displays distinctive characteristics. ‘Filmic House’ is defined as domestic space rendered in a film. It is conceptualised as a filmic space containing characters and their actions; a social space charged with narrativity; a lived space framing situation of urban domestic life that produces and communicates meanings in a film. The cinematic representation of domestic space forms mental archives of experience, memory, dreams and imagination. In this archive, the real and the represented have an inter-play.
The thesis discusses three dominant urban architectural typologies – the bungalow, the chawl and the apartment block – by way of their filmic representations in a set of chosen films. For film analysis that foregrounds architectural space, a model has been developed – ‘The Model of Filmic Dwelling’ that draws upon the architecture theory of Christian Norberg-Schulz based on lived space as existential space. In the model are defined three levels of spaces corresponding with modes of
dwelling – ‘The House’, ‘The Thing’, and ‘Urban Geography’. Several readings have been derived about attitudes of representation of domestic space at each of these levels and their inter-relationships.
In the act of creating a discourse around films that centralises a domestic space with significant narrative function, we are able to posit a category called ‘House-Films’. They are potentially a rich resource for cultural studies as well as archives of lived space, for enriching architectural histories of residential spaces (in Bombay and in India), particularly in understanding the ways in which lives are shaped within them. A rich picture emerges of the domestic realm in Hindi cinema, a subject that has eluded the attention of scholars and critics. This picture points to diversity of house forms even within a typology.
Being steeped in the traditions of the Hindi film, the manner in which the space of the house is framed can also be understood though the film form specific to Hindi cinema Here, we observe the use of tableaux functioning as a spectacle, allowed by the vast interior of the living room space. Also observed is an attitude towards space making that uses the idea of ‘juxtaposition’ rather than ‘continuity’. These forms are challenged when the filmic house is presented as a kinaesthetic space, in movement sequences with camerawork and montage, where architectural space is in conformity with the lived experience. In many house-films, we find song sequences have an extended role, expository to the lived experience, more than just an unrelated interruption in the film narrative.
While conventionally, the house is understood as an inner, privatised space of family bonding and a refuge from the outside world, it is also a contested space. Filmic narratives have captured these fractures or contestations for dramatic effect but at the same time point to the precarious condition of urban dwelling.
Finally, this research has produced a comprehensive appreciation of representation of domestic space in Hindi cinema and it furthers the understanding of architecture of home as a narrative and social space. This would be of interest to both film and architecture students and practitioners.