When does a city become a city? This was the question posed to six filmmakers across the world. Each of us were filming a planned city that was less than sixty years old. I made my film on Chandigarh. Chandigarh, a celebrated instance of modern city planning, was born out of a loss. Partition, in the wake of Freedom, cut the province of Punjab into two. The Muslim majority areas of West Punjab, along with the capital Lahore, became part of Pakistan. East Punjab remained with the now divided, newly independent India – a federal state without its principal city. A new city was proposed, one that would erase the experience of dismemberment, and break free of Tradition. Le Corbusier was commissioned to plan and build this Capital. He brought with him the idea of an ideal city that desired equality. The grand plan, this city of the perfect grid that Le Corbusier designed, is scientific and even touching in its humanism. When and why does an ideal city begin to look like an ossified, museumised form? Less than sixty years later Chandigarh struggles to retain its iconic character. A city that is confused by its margins. A city that has to confront the grim certitude of the Outlier overwhelming The Plan. The city’s residents mark it with their private lives and intimate stories. Tracing Bylanes maps Chandigarh’s unresolved tensions; its illicit aspirations and growing pains. It seeks to recognize Chandigarh’s singular achievements, and holds a mirror to the inevitability of transgressions.
Surabhi Sharma studied film direction at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, and made her first film in 2001.
She has worked on several feature length documentaries apart from some short fiction films and video installations. Her key concern has been documenting cities in transition through the lens of labour, music and migration, and most recently reproductive labour. Cinema verite and ethnography are the genres that inform her filmmaking.