The legendary RK Studio in Chembur is approaching the end of its era. The studio was the force behind memorable movies like Awaara (1951), Shri 420 (1955) and Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985). The Kapoor family, owners of the studio, have decided to sell it off. Krishna Raj Kapoor, wife of Raj Kapoor, their sons Randhir, Rishi, Rajiiv and their daughters Ritu Nanda and Rima Jain took this decision as they felt it’s no longer practical and economical to keep RK Studio running.
The process of negotiation of the studio has been initiated by the legal team.
Speaking on behalf of the family to Mumbai Mirror, Rishi Kapoor said that for a while the family juggled with the idea of renovating the studio with state-of-the-art technology. “However, in reality it isn’t always possible for a phoenix to rise from the ashes,” he added.
Kapoor further added that the investment would not have yielded enough revenue to sustain the studio. They took the larger picture into consideration and took a level-headed decision, he said. Kapoor said that even before the fire, RK Studio had become a “huge white elephant” and was incurring losses. The fire Rishi Kapoor mentioned took place last year in September that destroyed a major part of the studio.
Kapoor also revealed that the few bookings they would get from films, TV serials and shoots would expect free parking space, air-conditioning and discounts from them, making it an unviable proposition.
Another blow to the studio was the location. Chembur, in the eastern suburbs, where RK Studio is located is no longer sought after by filmmakers. Sets at studios in Andheri and Goregaon’s Film City are where all the action takes place now.
An emotional Rishi Kapoor also told Mumbai Mirror, “We 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. There would be family differences and only lawyers would end up charging heavy sums of fee. Do you think my father would have liked to see his labour of love becoming the subject of courtroom proceedings?”
Talking about if Ranbir Kapoor would want to revive the business, Kapoor says that if he (Ranbir) has the money, he could buy it from them. He then adds that, however, it is Ranbir’s time to concentrate on his career that has been validated by Sanju’s success.
“Chhati pe patthar rakkhar, soch samajh kar decision liya hai,” he further mentioned. Reiterating his sentiments is Kareena Kapoor. “RK Studios will always be close to our heart. It is our family home. It is one of the glorious studios to have ever been made,” she said to Hindustan Times. She also said that the decision to sell the studio is up to her father and his brothers and whatever they decide would be final.
RK Studio was built by master showman Raj Kapoor nearly 70 years ago. The first movie made under the banner was Aag in 1948. In the 40s and 50s electricity was provided only in the evenings, which is when most of the shooting took place. Not only of films under the RK Films banner, top notch filmmakers like Manmohan Desai and Dev Anand would hire members of RK Studio. Ram Teri Ganga Maili in 1985 was the last movie whose production was overseen by Raj Kapoor. In 1988 the legendary actor passed away leaving the reins of the studio to his eldest son, Randhir Kapoor. In 1996, Rajiv Kapoor directed Prem Granth under the banner, followed by Rishi Kapoor’s Aa Ab Laut Chalen in 1999, which was RK Studio’s last movie.
Last year, a massive fire broke out in the sets of reality show Super Dancer 2 that not only gutted a major part of the studio but also burnt most of the memorabilia to cinders. From costume of leading ladies from Nargis and Vyjayanthimala to Aishwarya Rai, the clown mask from Mera Naam Joker, the piano in Awara, Sangam and Bobby, publicity material, jewellery – everything were gutted in the fire.
Aag (1948), Barsaat (1949), Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960), Sangam (1964), Mera Naam Joker (1970), Bobby (1973) and Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) were some of the movies made in RK Studio.