Mumbai film studios: A look back at their glorious pasthttps://indianexpress.com/photos/entertainment-gallery/mumbai-film-studios-a-look-back-at-their-glorious-past-5359909/

Mumbai film studios: A look back at their glorious past

The era of studios dawned in the early 20th century, after Dadasaheb Phalke made India’s first film, Raja Harishchandra, in 1913.

The last studios in Mumbai face the inevitability of irrelevance. Here's a look back at their glorious past. In pic: Posters of yesteryear stars at Famous Studios at Mahalaxmi in Mumbai. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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The era of studios dawned in the early 20th century, after Dadasaheb Phalke made India’s first film, Raja Harishchandra, in 1913. Shot in a bungalow in Dadar, no trace of which exists, the film was made under the banner of Phalke Films. Phalke later moved to Nashik, where he established Hindustan Films. In Pic: Famous Studios at Mahalaxmi in Mumbai. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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By then, cinema had caught India’s imagination and studios started to come up in Bombay, Calcutta, Pune, Madras and Lahore, then part of undivided India. In 1931, Imperial made the legendary Alam Ara, narrowly pipping Madan’s Shirin Farhad to become the first Indian film with sound. By 1936, Bombay was home to well over two dozen studios. In Pic: Anant Roongta , owner of 66-year-old Famous Studios at Mahalaxmi, one of Bollywood's oldest and iconic studios. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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According to film and city historian Amrit Gangar, Indian film studios were at their prime then. “The migration from villages to the cities in the years following World War I created an unprecedented demand for cinema. Indian filmmakers looked to the West for ideas and the studio system was introduced,” says Gangar.(Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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A studio would offer every facility — from location to actors and technicians to post-production, all under one roof. “It was an assembly-line concept, where the actors, directors as well as technicians were on the studio’s payroll. This way, the makers could not only control their budgets but also avail of an environment that was professional and creative at the same time,” Gangar adds. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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Today, Kamalistan, which was renamed Kamal Amrohi Studios in the years following its founder’s death, stands on one of the city’s busiest stretches — the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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Step past the iron gates and one is greeted by a sight rare in this jostling city — landscaped gardens, rows of mango trees lining a walkway that leads to quaint old sets of a railway station, a village, a police station and several indoor stages. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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Among the films shot here are Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Naseeb (1981) and Coolie (1983), as well as all of Sooraj Barjatya’s movies. Of recent films, Salman Khan’s mega-hit Dabangg (2010), was shot here. Today, however, it is let out for weddings and events, ads and TV shoots. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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Seated on a couch next to Wasim, in her apartment that overlooks the last of the untouched land in Andheri — the mangroves — Rukhsar takes a long look at her father’s portrait that hangs on a wall. “Almost 30 years ago, Baba got an offer for the studio. A buyer was willing to pay Rs 100 crore. The money was good but I asked him if he will be able to live knowing that studio was not his anymore. He said he was losing sleep at the thought. The decision was taken and we retained what had come to be our home,” recounts Rukhsar. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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The estate is embroiled in litigation following a family dispute. Rukhsar believes it is a matter of time before it will be replaced by a corporate park, a highrise or a mall. “I read and reread Mr Rishi Kapoor’s interview on the family’s decision to sell off RK Studios in Chembur. And I agree with every word he said. This is inevitable,” says Rukhsar. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

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Each studio, thus, has its own folklore and legends. Ramanand Sagar’s son Prem Sagar recounts how RK Studios was born from the desperate failure of Aag (1948), the first film produced under the RK Films banner. The studio has been inactive for months but a fresh coat of paint has been applied to the facade of RK Studios. (Express photo)

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randhir kapoor rk studio

The touch-up is in anticipation of the Ganapati festival, an annual tradition started by Raj Kapoor. This may be its last celebration as the Kapoor family has decided to sell RK Studios after a fire destroyed the main shooting floor a year ago, taking with it the film memorabilia that the family had preserved over the decades — old posters, the puppets from Mera Naam Joker (1970), the tramp shoes from Awara (1951) and several costumes. In Pic: Actor Randhir Kapoor at RK Studio in Chembur (Express archive photo by Prakash Yeram)

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