The year 2012, which marks the completion of 100 years of Indian cinema, will be also known for the reopening of Bombay Talkies. The iconic studio was established in 1934 and went defunct in 1954. Owned by Dube Industries, the studio will now begin work on two films in June.
“Last year, we took a conscious decision to restart the company because of the 100 years of cinema celebrations,” says Satish Mahajan (55), who manages the studio. “We have waited 58 years for this moment,” he adds.
Ashok Kumar with Devika Rani in Achhut Kanya, a Bombay Talkies production
Mahajan reveals the studio had to close because of financial mismanagement by Sashadhar Mukherjee (brother-in-law of Ashok and Kishor Kumar), after the release of Mahal in 1949. “We lost Rs 12,000 which was a huge amount at that time,” he adds.
The first film to be launched by Bombay Talkies this year is titled Zakhmi and will feature Abhay Kumar (29), the grandson of the studio’s original owner, Rajnarayan Dube. It will also star Sayali Bhagat, and Mithun Chakraborty. Actors Mallika Sherawat, Tusshar Kapoor and Vinay Pathak are being considered for the second film which, so far, is untitled.
In 1934, Bombay Talkies had its office at Marine Lines and a studio in Malad. Now, it operates from Lokhandwala. Many of Hindi cinema’s most iconic names began their careers with the studio.
“Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle used to sing in chorus at our studio,” says Mahajan. “Lata’s first hit, ‘Aayega aanewala’ was from our film, Mahal. Ashok Kumar debuted in our film Achhut Kanya (1936) on a monthly salary of Rs 20.”