End nears for iconic RK Studio

Kannada actor Anirudh on why the studio, now up for demolition, must be preserved at least partly as a tribute to its celebrated founder Raj Kapoor

R K Studio in Mumbai will soon make way for apartments and a plush retail space.

Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand are perhaps the greatest trio from the golden era of Hindi movies. They had their own distinct styles and are still adored by millions.

All three produced films. Dilip Kumar never directed a movie officially, but Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor directed some masterpieces. The difference between the two, however, was that Raj Kapoor began directing films at a very early age.

Though Raj Kapoor was the son of Prithvi Raj Kapoor, one of the pioneers of Indian theatre and films, he was never under his father’s shadow. He was perhaps the youngest director of his times: he was just 23 when he made his first film ‘Aag’ in 1948 under his banner RK Films. The film was shot in his own studio, called RK Studio.

He produced, directed and edited many memorable films shot at his studio. In a majority of these, he acted too. The first Indian star and director, the Charlie Chaplin of the East was admired and loved by people even across the border.

Raj Kapoor introduced and groomed many technicians and artistes. Shankar-Jaikishan, the music composers, were his find. Radhu Karmakar, who worked as his cinematographer for four decades, became a director with ‘Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai’. Actors Rishi, Dimple, Rajeev, and Mandakini were launched by him. He was an institution that everyone wanted to observe, learn from and be a part of.  

The studio’s contribution is immense. Raj Kapoor and RK Studio cannot be separated. Randheer and Rishi’s first ever appearance on the silver screen was in the song ‘Pyar hua ikrar hua’ from ‘Shree 420,’ and it was shot here. Raj Kapoor’s three sons eventually directed their films in the same studio.

When I learnt that the 2.2 acres where this studio stood was bought by Godrej Properties, I recalled Raj Kapoor’s pained expressions in ‘Mera Naam Joker.’ The news created a deep sense of despair in me. The space will be used to build residential apartments and a luxury retail space.

The thought of the studio fading away is depressing. It was here that the dream merchant shot India’s first dream sequence, and it was here that many iconic films were made.

One can also understand the studio was a white elephant and its maintenance a Herculean task. It couldn’t have been easy for the Kapoors to give away a piece of their legacy.

The legacy, to some extent, also belongs to those of us who grew up on his films. We would have been delighted if the Government of India had bought this property and preserved it in Raj Kapoor’s memory.

Anyway, my heartiest congratulations to Godrej Properties! On behalf of millions of fans, I would like to request them humbly to reserve a portion of this land to develop RK Museum, and display Raj Kapoor memorabilia. It will be a place where millions get an opportunity to revisit his cinema. If they could also establish an RK Film Academy, future filmmakers will be equipped with better knowledge and skills.

Raj Kapoor, the greatest showman of the Hindi film industry, who spoke the immortal line, ‘Jeena yahan, marna yahan, Iske siva jana kahan,’ must live on. RK Studio should live on. The show must go on.

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