Bollywood treasure trove lost for good?


Mumbai got its landmark R K Studios at Chembur in 1948. It was founded by Raj Kapoor, whom Bollywood called the Great Showman, a year after Independence. At that time, film stars of Bollywood's black and white cinema had not set foot on Pali Hill in Bandra and the Juhu Vile Parle Development Scheme, which together are Bollywood's Beverly Hills today.

Raj Kapoor was headquartered in Chembur and that's where he constructed his studio. The premises did not prove lucky for him initially because Raj Kapoor's first film as producer and director that was made there, Aag co-starring Nargis, Premnath and Kamini Kaushal, fared badly at the box office.

But the studio hit success soon after with Raj Kapoor's Barsaat in 1949.

The studio's iconic logo, featuring the actor and his leading lady, was inspired by a scene from this film.

Since then, Raj Kapoor went on to make several super hit films from R K Studios. These include Awara in 1951, Boot Polish, Jagte Raho and Shri 420 came after that. Music directors Shankar Jaishan scored the tracks of several of their films from R K Studios. The last film to be shot here was Aa Ab Laut Chalen in 1999.

Raj Kapoor had long since passed away and this film was directed by his second son, Rishi Kapoor, under the R K Film banner. What was special about R K Studios was that its management preserved all the costumes of its films in a warehouse at the premises. Fears are that this warehouse has also been gutted in today's blaze and this Bollywood treasure trove has been lost for good.