The landmark in Indian film history R. K. studio in Chembur is now up for sale. The studio was built by legendary actor Raj Kapoor in 1948 in suburban Chembur which witnessed a number of films made by the Kapoors over the decades.
The legendary actor-producer-director Raj Kapoor’s wife Krishna Kapoor and sons Randhir, Rishi and Rajiv along with their sisters Ritu Nanda and Rima Jain, have taken a collective decision that it is no longer practical to hang on to the sprawling, the two-acre studio, as the historical property was not ‘economically-viable’ to rebuild it after it was gutted down in a fire last year.
On September 16, 2017, a major fire broke out on the sets of dance reality show named ‘Super Dancer2’ which was then on-floor at that studio and as the ground floor was gutted. The fire devastated the invaluable treasure of R K Films memorabilia. All the costumes which were worn by the R K leading ladies from Nargis, Vyjayanthimala to Aishwarya Rai, those costume jewelleries, the clown mask of Mera Naam Jocker, the guns used in several films under R K banner, the grand piano used in Awaara, Sangam and Bobby, were burnt to cinders.
While Rishi Kapoor had earlier expressed his desire to reconstruct R. K. studio with state of the art-technology, elder brother Randhir however was not agree with him and termed it as ‘impractical’ decision!
“We had to place a stone on our hearts. Chatti pe patthar rakh kar, soch samajh kar decision liya hain” said Rishi Kapoor while confirming the news.
The R K family, which strive to preserve the studio ever since the grand showman Raj Kapoor’s death at the age of 63, three decades ago, have taken the heart-wrenching decision unanimously. According to several sources, a team employed by the Kapoors has initiated the process of negotiating the sale of the hollowed studio campus including builders, developers and corporate.
“Yes, we have taken the decision to sell R K studio. It is already up for sell. After the fire that broke out at the studio it was not viable to build it again… it was not economically viable to do it again”, explained Randhir.
The R K studio and the banner gave us a number of hit films include ‘Aag’ (probably the first venture by R K banner), ‘Barsat’, ‘Awaara’, ‘Shri 420’, ‘Mera naam jocker’, ‘Bobby’, ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ Ram Teri Ganga Maili’, ‘Jis Desh Mein Ganga Beheti Hain’ and many more. The last film made under this banner was Rishi Kapoor directed ‘Aa Ab Laut Chalein’. After Raj Kapoor’s death in 1988, his elder son Randhir took over the charge of R K studio.
In an exclusive interview with a leading daily of Mumbai, Rishi Kapoor spoke on behalf of the Kapoor family, ashe said, for a while they did juggle with the idea of renovating the place with state of the art technology. However, in reality it is not possible for a phoenix to rise from the ashes. “We Kapoors are very emotional lot but then…” he lapsed into silence.
Then recovering his composure, furthermore he explained, “The investment in rebuilding the studio would just not have yielded sufficient revenue to keep it going. They had to take the larger picture into account and took a level-headed decision. Even before the fire, for years R K studio had become a huge elephant, toting up loses. The few bookings they would get from films, TV serials, ad shoots would expect free parking space, air-conditioning and discounts”.
But the key reason behind selling the studio is Chembur, in the eastern suburbs, is no longer favored by filmmakers who mostly build their sets at studios in Andheri and Goregaon’s film city.
Furthermore he added, “We, the Kapoor brothers are strongly bonded. But who knows about our children and grand-children? What if differences crop up in the next generation? The studio would only end up in litigation as so many industrial and textile estates have. Moreover, then there will be family differences and only lawyers would end up charging heavy amount of money. So, would my father have liked to see his labor of love becoming the subject of courtroom proceedings?” he showed his concerns on R K studio.
The sale of the hollowed property could be in two days, two months or it could take two years too, as we do not have timelines!, concluded Rishi Kapoor.
But Rishi’s concerns for future Kapoor-generation would it giving any other hint about unknown facts of Kapoor family? Perhaps might be…
Only time can give you the best answer!