With RK Studios up for sale in Mumbai, here is how Pune still hangs on to Raj Kapoor’s memories
Actor Rishi Kapoor recently announced that late Bollywood actor and producer Raj Kapoor’s famous RK Studios is up for sale after it was gutted in a massive fire last year. The decision to sell the property was reportedly taken collectively by the family.
Against this background, HT visited the Loni Kalbhor campus of MAEER’s MIT group of institutions, located around 30 kilometres from the city, which is known for its scenic beauty and well-designed institute buildings. Amidst it all is the Raj Kapoor memorial built by Vishwanath Karad, founder president of MAEER’s MIT. The two-and-half-acre memorial is his way of keeping memories of Raj Kapoor alive. However, the memorial is not the only thing that is dedicated to the late Bollywood veteran.
Rajbaug, that literally translates to king of gardens, was the Kapoor family’s heirloom that also houses a bungalow. Rajbaug is still partly owned by the family who often make a trip down the memory lane by spending some days at the bungalow.
The memorial is situated right next to the bungalow. Karad built the educational institution surrounding this memorial. This was developed under the guidance of Sanjay Sing, Sanjay Chatterji and Prashant Valukar, directors of the Indian Traditional Cultural Centre, Ramoji film city.
The memorial was inaugurated in 2014 and showcases the legendary film-maker Raj Kapoor’s milestone contributions from 1945 to 1990. It was inaugurated in the presence of playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and Raj Kapoor’s wife Krishna Kapoor, in the presence of the entire Kapoor clan.
The campus has several links, not just to the time spent by the family here, but also to several of Raj Kapoor’s films which were shot here, like Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby and Prem Rog to name a few. A dance scene from Kapoor’s film Awaara brings back memories as one starts humming the tune, reliving the black and white era as you make your way to the reception hall where after paying an entrance fee of Rs 300, one steps into the hall where a real-life statute of Raj Kapoor and his wife Krishna welcomes you.
Surrounding the statue, one begins to unravel Kapoor’s life journey through old black and white photos, showcasing him as a charming young man, his first break as an actor, Kapoor as a director, him discussing shots, with his music directors, singers and actors. In some family portraits, the bewitching smile is contagious as one follows photo after photo until you reach the one where Raj Kapoor is seen toiling in his farm at Rajbaug. There is a continuing commentary in Hindi which takes you through the main hall.
Later, one steps into the vestibule pathway that connects seven pagodas; all designed to hold elements from his films. The pagodas house Raj Kapoor as an actor, followed by singers for his films, villains, comedians, actors and actress who were associated with Raj Kapoor films or were famous in that era. Each Pagoda represents colour of the rainbow showcasing the various hues of Kapoor’s contribution to the Indian cinema.
Besides this, the pathways also play tribute to contributors, like Prithviraj Kapoor, Sohrab Modi, Balraj Sahni, Ashok Kumar, Guru Dutt, Sunil Dutt, and Rajendra Kumar. The statues also include Marathi cinema actors, like Jayshree Gadkar, Dada Kondke, Nilu Phule, Sharad Talwalkar and Vasant Shinde.
Raj Kapoor won many awards throughout his career, including nine Filmfare awards and 19 nominations. His films Awaara (1951) and Boot Polish (1954) were nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival. The film Jagte Raho (1956) also won the Crystal Globe award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Entry fee - Rs 300 per head (includes visit to the dam and Sangeet Kala Academy)
Timings - 9:30 am to 5:30 pm