Fading into history
The legendary RK Studio is up for sale. The fact that the Kapoors, Bollywood's first family, have jointly decided to sell the iconic studio built by late showman Raj Kapoor in Chembur, a suburb of Mumbai, has come as a piece of bad news. The studio had fallen in disuse and in addition there was this fire tragedy last year. Still, the very fact that it remains there untouched was a consolation for film buffs. Not just a generation but many more grew up with RK studio and banner. All shows come to an end. Yes. And this great show too...?
Randhir Kapoor declared that it was not economically viable to rebuild it after it was gutted in the fire. So, this 70-year-old studio goes up for sale. Every filmy person of this land knows that Raj Kapoor lived and breathed in the studios making films, hosting Holi parties graced by Nargis, Amitabh and Shatrughan Sinha. In fact, the love of Raj Kapoor for the studio was such that he told his family that his body should be taken to the studio for "under the arc lights I may get up again."
Alas, neither did he, nor the studio after him. This will come as an emotional loss not only to the family but also to all the fans of RK. Four generations of the Kapoor family and four generations of Indians together were blessed by the RK studio. The studio symbolises something uniquely urban, something very towny. The young generation of the post-freedom – particularly, immediately after the Independence – saw its struggles and frustrations in black and white through the RK studio gaze. A shift in generations got reflected in the movies too. The urbanity was the lasting theme in all.
There lies the tragedy. History is cold to personal feelings and spaces. Tomorrow the RK studio may be replaced with a high rise or a multiplex. Mumbai like many other cities in the country has seen it all. Several other film studios too vanished from the scene. The hostel and printing press set up by Dr B R Ambedkar was razed. Famed textile mills were replaced by malls and offices. Work spaces and homes of famous personalities, spaces steeped in historical values that speak to the young generations, which should have been our heritage monuments, are losing their identity and spaces.
Everything need not be a Charminar or a Taj Mahal to be protected. The city, the Kapoor family and the government should have come together to preserve the studio. Such spaces are not two a penny. They do have an intrinsic value and role in preserving our culture with their own timelines. Click back on the time line and we come to know of the pathos of the era. Ultimate question should be what sort of a city we want. With the studio getting ready to shut down forever, memories fade of the dream sequence of Awara, the magical 'Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua' of Shree 420, Mera Naam Joker's clown, 'Om Shanti Om' of Rishi Kapoor in Karz. A city is killing a nation's memories, alas!