“Not many know that MN Sharma was also known for his muscular body with adorable biceps. We used to call him the Salman Khan of the city’s architecture sector,” says SS Bhatti, former principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA).
Remembering Sharma, the first Indian chief architect of Chandigarh, who died on Sunday morning at the age of 93, Bhatti shared his close association with him since 1961.
“He used to have three full-length mirrors at home and he used to do regular exercises. Every gym tool and material was found at his place. He was a fitness freak. His life shows that people who care about their physical health are the ones who are better at balancing emotions,” said Bhatti.
“He was an impassioned custodian who was always on the vigil to safeguard the city’s original concept against political and bureaucratic interference,” he added.
Bhatti said that Sharma was endowed with a distinguished aesthetic sensibility and he did his job with aplomb and farsightedness as the first Indian chief architect of the Chandigarh Project. “He had the uncanny ability to locate, identify and pick up exceptional talent and then nurture it to full blossom, all for the sake of the City Beautiful,” he further added.
Bhatti strongly believes that after MN Sharma retired, “nobody could replace him since no work of similar stature has been ever created so far”.
“I first met him on August 7, 1961, it was a Monday morning. I was a lecturer at Chandigarh College of Architecture, which was under him. He used to visit the college occasionally to check if everything was going on smoothly. Out of curiosity, I used to show my work to him and he used to praise me by saying, ‘You are really creative.’”
Bhatti shared that another thing which the world may not know him Sharma is he hailed from Sialkot, now in Pakistan. “After much research, I realised why he was such a gem: It was because he was a Sialkotia! Many world-renowned people like Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Shiv Kumar Batalvi are from Sialkot,” he said with a smile.