This heartfelt film offers a brief history of modern art in India


March 24, 2020

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The iconic Bandra mansion owned by gallerist Kekoo Gandhy gives the name to a new documentary by his daughter, Behroze

Independent film ‘Kekee Manzil: The House of Art’ also showcases the life of the gallerist


A young, lean Maqbool Fida Husain painting, intensely, intently; Tyeb Mehta’s wife, Sakina, speaking into the camera, “People say his art is violent; I say it is against violence”; the demolition of Babri masjid—these are scenes from independent film Kekee Manzil: The House of Art. While it’s a brief history of modern art in India, the film is also a tender, charming portrait of Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, a Parsi couple who facilitated the careers of some of the most brilliant artists of our time.

A Personal Account

Behroze Gandhy, their daughter, had been filming her parents with a camcorder for over 20 years, “more as an archivist than anything else”. In 2016, a few years after they passed away, she partnered with Dilesh Korya, a Bristol-based filmmaker, to tell this deeply personal story set within a highly political context. The family’s ancestral house, Kekee Manzil, a 100-year-old structure overlooking Bandra’s Bandstand Promenade, is an ideal vehicle for the story. A montage of scenes of the family seated around its grand dining table, picnics at a pristine Juhu beach, a flamboyant Kekoo at parties and a stylish Khorshed managing the affairs at Gallery Chemould (originally on the secret first floor of the Jehangir Art Gallery in Bombay), the story plays out around the house. The narrative is pieced together by significant voices: Anish Kapoor, Jerry Pinto and Sidharth Bhatia, plus anecdotes by (and about) SH Raza, Ila Pal, Bhupen Khakhar, Atul Dodiya, Krishen Khanna, Salman Rushdie and Nalini Malani, interspersed with Talvin Singh’s spectacular soundtrack.


Salman Rushdie and Behroze Gandhy. Photo credit: Dev Benegal

Showcasing a Legacy

Kekee Manzil is special because it’s intimate. It has a sense of humour as it is confrontational. It is a daughter’s return to and realisation of her father’s legacy. It captures a world as it slips away, the absences becoming palpable in the concluding scenes of an empty dining room and an older Kekoo Gandhy swaying to the Viennese

Kekoo Gandhy in front of Kekee Manzil, the home in which he was born

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