LOS ANGELES — Sher-e-Bangla Nagor, Bangladesh’s parliament building, also known as Tiger City, has been praised by architects and art historians as “futuristic and ancient at the same time,” a marvel and a monument to a new and emerging democracy.
“Louis Kahn’s Tiger City,” a new documentary directed by Sundaram Tagore, tells the unlikely story of how Kahn (1901-1974), an American architect, came to design one of the world’s great architectural sites in a country and culture so different from his own.
Tagore — who wrote, produced and directed the film — is a Calcutta-born art historian, gallery owner, and award-winning filmmaker. Tagore narrates the film, which also chronicles his journey discovering the history and creation of Tiger City. In 1985, Tagore received a scholarship to travel to Bangladesh to study the buildings of Louis I. Kahn. He writes that upon touring Tiger City, “I was unprepared for the raw emotional power and poetic beauty of these buildings. Tiger City looked futuristic and ancient at the same time.”
“Louis Kahn’s Tiger City” makes extensive use of archival and news footage, as well as interviews with architects, historians and political leaders. Kahn’s children Nathaniel Kahn and Sue Ann Kahn also pay touching tributes to their father’s legacy. Tagore chronicles Tiger City’s vital connection to Bangladesh’s war for independence from Pakistan. Before its independence, Bangladesh was East Pakistan, and Tiger City was originally a project of the Pakistani government. Kahn worked on the project beginning in 1962 until his death in 1974. By that time, Bangladesh had established its independence, and Tiger City, located in the capital of Dhaka, became the symbol of the hopes and aspirations of the new, emerging democracy.
Kahn held teaching positions at Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania. Kahn’s many designs include The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California; the Yale University Art Gallery; the Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh; and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York.
Tagore’s debut film, “The Poetics of Color: Natvar Bhavsar, An Artist’s Journey,” premiered at the MIAAC Film Festival in New York City in 2010 and garnered several festival awards, including The Accolade, The Indie Fest, and the esteemed Singaporean National Critics Choice Readers Award for Best New Art Film Epic Documentary of the Year, and Best New Director (2012).
FOCUS (or SEO) words: Tiger City, Sher-e-Bangla Nagor, Sundaram Tagore, Bangladesh independence, Louis I. Kahn
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