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It Is Heart-Breaking To Know That The Dream Palace Of India’s Greatest Showman Is Going To Mingle With The Dust

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Ali Peter John

Randhir Raj Kapoor had to go through all the hardships and humilation even though he was the eldest son of Prithviraj Kapoor, one of the biggest names in theatre (he was the founder of Prithvi Theatre) and Indian cinema.He started his career as a general assistant in Bombay Talkies where Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand got their first breaks as actors.He then was an assistant director of Kidar Sharma who was a contemporary of K.L Saigal and Prithviraj Kapoor among many others.His stint with Kider Sharma will always be remembered as the time when the son of Prithviraj Kapoor and the young man who was destined to be the showman of India was slapped by Kider Sharma.

Raj Kapoor was not a very educated man, but he had the Knack of picking up and learning things, especially about cinema very fast.By the time he was twenty-three, he was all set to make his debut as an actor-director and made his first film,“Aah”which was a very grey film which did not do well, but he went on to make cult films like“Awaara”and “Shri 420″and was accepted as a great promise for the future.

He was also very ambitious besides being multi-talented.He wanted to build a studio of his own, but he didn’t know how to go ahead with his ambition. It is said that his still photographer,B.J Panchal showed him a piece of land in a faraway suburb called Chembur which belonged to one of Panchal’s friends. The land was at the foot of a hill which was going to be the atomic centre of India (BARC) and the other thing the area which was called Deonar was known for were the large scale open distilleries of illicit liquor.Raj Kapoor fell in love with the place and bought it for a few thousand rupees and also bought an adjacent piece of land in Deonar itself where he built his own cottage which he named Deonar Cottage.

He took personal interest in the building of the studio which took him quite some time to see as his dream turned reality.

The studio which had it’s name given to it by Raj himself was R.K Studios and Films.His film, “Barsaat” was a very big hit and in one of the songs of the film picturised on Raj and Nargis, his favourite heroine with whom he did more than a dozen films, he found the insignia for his banner,R.K Films.It was Raj holding Nargis in one arm and a guitar in the other.The studio when it was completed became the place where Raj shot almost all his films starting with“Awaara and “Shri 420″. His films shot at his Studio came to life because of the cinematography of Radhu Karmakar, the art direction of the well-known painter,M.R Achrekar and the sound recording of Alauddin without whom he couldn’t think of making his films, like he couldn’t think of making his films without the music of Shankar-Jaikishan and the lyrics of Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri and some of his best films written by K.A Abbas who he called his conscience like he called the singer Mukesh his voice.

The Studio soon became a popular place to shoot for other big filmmakers too, mainly because it was huge with several floors where any kind of set could be built and the kind of the latest equipment the Studio had. It became so popular in the 50’s and 60’s that any foreign dignitary or delegation had to have a visit to it a must on their itinerary and they all went back praising Raj Kapoor’s palace of dreams.

The Studio which was built in the early 50’s kept on reinventing itself with the changes in cinema the world over.

It was built with three storeys. The massive gate had the name R.K Studios and Films embossed in gold with the insignia of R.K Films being prominent.As one entered (if you were lucky and the security guards allowed you in) on the left at one end of the ground floor was the office of Raj Kapoor.The adjoining cabins were for his sons, Randhir, Rishi and Rajiv and the other cabins were for all the technicians and Raj Kapoor’s seceretary for years, Harish Bibra and the general manager, Mahendranath for many years,a man who was the actor Premnath’s brother and therefore the brother-in-law of Raj Kapoor as he had married their sister, Krishna. The common office was generally occupied by Raj kapoor’s accountant,K.V.V Raman and Raj kapoor’s seniormost assistant, Kala Chandra who had come to Bombay with a friend called L.V Prasad.Prasad went back to Madras and built Prasad Studios and directed memorable films while Kala Chandra stayed on to be Raj Kapoor’s assistant till his last film and then even worked as the assistant of Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Rajiv Kapoor.Kala’s story was the ideal example to prove how luck or destiny played a big hand in this bad,mad but still good world of Hindi films.

On the first storey was a mini theatre where Raj Kapoor saw the shots he had taken during the day,most of the time all by himself and sometimes with close friends and the people associated with the films he was watching. The rest of this storey had the costume department, the place where all the cameras and other equipment were kept with men to take special care of them.But the greatest highlight was the large size black and white photographs of all his heroines from Nargis to Zeenat Aman and Mandakini.He was known to fall in love with all his heroines because he believed that a good director could not get good work out of his heroines unless he was madly in love with them.

R.K Studios was not only a studio to make films, but it was also known for the best parties in the city which people believed only Raj Kapoor could host with the who’s who of Bombay from different walks of life being present.To be a part of a R.K party was considered a privilege.

R.K Studios was also known for the grand way in which Holi was celebrated for which Raj Kapoor had built a special pool which was filled with water and different colours only when Holi was celebrated. The other festival which was celebrated in a grand way was Ganeshutsav which lasted all the ten days.

R.K Studios was a landmark, but only as long as Raj Kapoor was alive.The last time the world saw it in all its glory was when Raj kapoor’s body which was placed on a truck covered with flowers and with his portrait on top and thousands of mourners in the compound to have a last glimpse of the man who had given his life to add dignity to Indian cinema…..

Chembur and Deonar has been changing ever since his death in 1988.They have become commercial centres and the traffic is killing.It is this change that struck a heavy blow on R.K Studios.Filmmakers gradually kept away from shooting at R.K and preferred to shoot in places like Georgia and Croatia than at R.K.Randhir Kapoor who had now taken over found it difficult to maintain the studio and soon there were only two air-condition floor where only TV serials were shot.To top it all, the studio was engulfed in a huge fire which destroyed many material things, but most of all it killed the enthusiasm of the sons of Raj Kapoor and their decision to sell off the studio didn’t come as a big shop, but it was going to be a very big emotional loss which could never be made up for.All that will remain now are the remains of a glorious legacy.

It is soon going to be demolish and I wonder how Raj Kapoor would have reacted to see his palace of dreams being reduced to dust.

It is learnt that the Godrej empire is all set to take over and build something which can be very precious and prestigious, but it cannot be R.K Studios.

The government of Maharashtra had promised to build a memorial for Raj Kapoor after his death, but that promise has died like most promises made by different governments. I think that the Godrej family has a touch of the emotional alive in them.Would they be kind enough to find some place where they could build a memorial for a, common man who rose to be one of the most extraordinary men? And even if they don’t, Raj Kapoor is big and great enough to live in the hearts of people for ages to come.

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, RK Studio, Raj Kapoor, Prithviraj Kapoor, Randhir Raj Kapoor

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