It is one of the landmarks of Mumbai and one of the greatest contribution of the Kapoors to Hindi cinema. The iconic RK Studios in Chembur, Mumbai, set up by the legendary Raj Kapoor nearly 70 years ago, is up for sale. Raj Kapoor’s wife Krishna Raj Kapoor, sons Randhir, Rishi and Rajiv, and daughters Ritu Nanda and Rima Jain, have taken a collective decision that it is no longer practical to hang on to the sprawling, two-acre studio, a major part of which was gutted in a fire on September 16 last year.
A team employed by the family has initiated the process of negotiating the sale of the hallowed studio campus with builders, developers and corporates. The RK family, which strived to preserve the studio ever since the grand showman’s death at the age of 63 nearly three decades ago, have taken the heart-wrenching call unanimously," wrote noted critic and journalist Khalid Mohammed for Mumbai Mirror.
“For a while, we did juggle with the idea of renovating the place with state-of-the-art technology. However, in reality it isn’t always possible for a phoenix to rise from the ashes.... The investment in rebuilding the studio would just not have yielded sufficient revenue to keep it going. Believe me, we had to take the larger picture into account and take a level-headed decision. Even before the fire, for years RK Studios had become a huge white elephant, toting up losses. The few bookings we would get from films, TV serials and ad shoots would expect free parking space, air-conditioning and discounts,” said Rishi Kapoor, to the newspaper.
Another key reason for the closure is that Chembur, in the eastern suburbs, is no longer favoured by filmmakers who mostly build their sets at studios in Andheri and Goregaon’s Film City. It was essentially in the remote past that topline filmmakers, Manmohan Desai and Dev Anand’s Navketan Films would insist on hiring the lot at RK Studio. The space, barren at the outset, had been bought by Raj Kapoor after obtaining a loan and a grand studio had been constructed. Since electricity would be supplied to Chembur during the ’40s and the early ’50s only after evenings, shoots were feasible only at night.
Any mixed feelings about the studio where there were more stars in heaven once? “Not really,” he said. “We had to place a stone on our hearts. Chhati pe patthar rakkhar, soch samajh kar decision liya hai," Rishi Kapoor told Mumbai Mirror.