Balkrishna Doshi - Mother Tongue

photographs by Danko Stjepanović
written by Deepak Unnikrishnan

These prints are the result of a conversation between a photographer and an architect. The third actor, the writer of this text, will attempt the role of a translator, to reflect on what was said and left unsaid during the interaction between the aforementioned men, strangers to each other when they first met.


Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi (architect) and Danko Stjepanović (photographer) communicated in English. Neither will claim the language, which they have tamed, as their mother tongue. English was therefore a tool, to converse about craft and reflect on the philosophy of intent, the way personal/professional choices and the weight of time influenced the buildings/structures Doshi made. As Doshi spoke, Stjepanović took pictures. He also listened and waited for the portrait that did not feel practiced. Doshi is often photographed. He knows how to pose. Yet in Stjepanović’s shot of Doshi lifting his head to meet Kamuben, his leaning wife, it is as though the photographer has left the room. We then witness two things in tandem. First: the gentle intrusion of personal space. Second: the lens taking something intimate from two people who have aged together, a language gentle and tender.