Pressure from local residents, film personalities and cinema bodies forced a businessman to drop his plans to buy Kolhapur’s vintage Jayprabha Studio from singer Lata Mangeshkar. In a news conference on Sunday, Popatlal Gundesha produced a written statement saying he had cancelled the sale agreement.
Citizens were up in arms against the sale fearing it would amount to a loss of local heritage. In August, the Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Chitrapat Mahamandal (ABMCM), an industry body, held a protest march opposing the move. It urged the state government to intervene and prevent the sale. A statement released by the ABMCM urged the state government to buy the studio from Lata Mangeshkar and preserve it after refurbishments to ensure film production can continue. The ABMCM pointed out that the studio space had been offered by Chattrapati Rajaram Maharaja, former ruler of the Kolhapur state, in 1934 to veteran producer Bhalji Pendharkar. The filmmaker mortgaged the property, but was unable to repay the loan.
When it was finally auctioned, the studio was acquired by Mangeshkar. The ABMCM’s statement says the studio’s significance was underscored by the fact that films and TV serials in five different languages had been shot there over the past 78 years.
As an alternative, the ABMCM filed a civil suit against Lata Mangeshkar. In response to the suit, the civil court judge ordered a status quo on the transaction, which meant that the sale deed cannot be executed until a final decision is taken in the case.