Hafeez Contractor. Not just a name. A living legend whose dream is to ensure that every Indian lives in a beautiful, affordable home.
The Howard Roark of Ayn Rand´s Fountainhead. Only, Hafeez Contractor´s persona and stature has grown a lot larger than the original. This celebrated architect is really there on top of the heap. Sanguine, immovable. And most importantly, irreplaceable.
Children doodle. About mountains, trees, birds, a rising sun and a thatched house with a curvaceous road. A young Hafeez doodled forts, tanks and bikes. He didn´t seek out architecture as a vocation. With 50 per cent marks in SSC, he couldn´t. But what was meant to be, had to happen. At a random tuition class with the wife of an architect, he noticed one day, the architect´s assistant drawing a window detail and doing it wrong. When he pointed it out, he was sneered at. The architect boss walked in at this pre-destined moment, asked him to design a hall. He did and destiny did a little jig. With the architect Mr Wandrekar´s help, he got into the Academy of Architecture. Of the next seven years as a student, he stood first in class in all but one. And the rest, as they say, is history.
While other greats talks of master craftsmen as their ideals, Hafeez Contractor reminisces about his third grade teacher, Shirin BHarucha, now living in an old people´s home in Thakur, Karjat. ¨I was a bad student. And this was a time when teachers beat up bad students. She would beat me with a foot ruler and say, ´You are a useless student. You don´t study. You don´t do homework. You only draw. When you grow up you should become an architect´. I am thankful to her. And to another teacher Datta Mallik who recently passed away. He taught me about mechanics.¨
To live a life steeped in fame, glory and unmatched stature´..how does it feel? ¨I feel humbled. I thank God every day and every night. And I thank my mother, my cousin Tehmasp Khareghat who insisted I drop everything and become an architect, my aunt who tore up my letter for admission into the army´.and all my elders. I feel that God gives me good help and direction so that I can do something for the country and do something for housing by which each and every Indian can get a house at an affordable price. This is my final am in life. I think the day you start feeling powerful, is the first day of your downfall. I am just happy to be a conduit in God´s scheme of things¨.