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The Bombay Talkies




The Bombay Talkies was a movie studio founded in 1934 by Himanshu Rai and Devika Rani. It was one of the most influential and innovative film companies in India, producing 40 movies in Malad, a suburb of Mumbai. The studio introduced a high level of professionalism and technical standards to Indian cinema, employing experienced European technicians and launching the careers of many prominent actors and directors. The studio also tackled social issues and controversial topics in its films, such as caste discrimination, sexuality, and nationalism. The studio ceased operations in 1953, after the death of Devika Rani and the departure of some of its key personnel.


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History




Himanshu Rai was a lawyer and actor who had worked in several silent films in India and Germany. He met Devika Rani, a niece of Rabindranath Tagore and a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, in London. They married in 1929 and decided to start their own film company in India. They returned to India in 1933 and founded Bombay Talkies with the help of Rajnarayan Dube, a wealthy financier who became the chief producer of the studio.


Bombay Talkies had a state-of-the-art studio complex in Malad, with sound and echo-proof stages, laboratories, editing rooms, and a preview theater. The studio also had a large staff of writers, directors, actors, technicians, musicians, and artists. The studio hired Franz Osten, a German director who had worked with Rai in Germany, as its chief director. Osten brought along several other European technicians who trained the Indian staff in the latest film techniques.


The first film produced by Bombay Talkies was Jawani Ki Hawa (1935), starring Rai and Rani. The film was a success and established the studio as a major force in Indian cinema. The studio followed up with several other hits, such as Achhut Kanya (1936), Jeevan Naiya (1936), Izzat (1937), Nirmala (1938), Kangan (1939), and Bandhan (1940). These films featured realistic stories, social themes, melodious songs, and naturalistic performances by the actors.


Legacy




Bombay Talkies is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential film studios in Indian cinema history. It introduced many innovations and trends that shaped the industry for decades to come. Some of these include:



  • The use of sound technology and dialogue in films.



  • The introduction of playback singing and musical scores.



  • The creation of star system and fan following.



  • The emergence of genres such as social drama, romance, comedy, thriller, and musical.



  • The exploration of themes such as caste, class, gender, sexuality, nationalism, and modernity.



  • The development of a distinctive style of film making that blended realism and fantasy.




Bombay Talkies also launched the careers of many legendary actors and directors who became icons of Indian cinema. Some of them are:



  • Devika Rani: The first lady of Indian cinema and one of the most popular actresses of her time. She was known for her beauty, grace, intelligence, and versatility. She acted in 15 films for Bombay Talkies and also became its chief producer after Rai's death.



  • Ashok Kumar: The first superstar of Indian cinema and one of the most versatile actors ever. He started as a lab assistant at Bombay Talkies and made his debut in Jeevan Naiya (1936). He acted in 28 films for Bombay Talkies and became famous for his natural acting style.



  • Dilip Kumar: The tragedy king of Indian cinema and one of the greatest actors ever. He made his debut in Jwar Bhata (1944), produced by Bombay Talkies. He acted in four films for Bombay Talkies and became known for his intense and emotional performances.



  • Madhubala: The Venus of Indian cinema and one of the most beautiful actresses ever. She made her debut as a child artist in Basant (1942), produced by Bombay Talkies. She acted in four films for Bombay Talkies and became famous for her charm, charisma, and glamour.



  • Raj Kapoor: The showman of Indian cinema and one of the most successful directors ever. He started as an assistant director at Bombay Talkies and made his debut as an actor in Hamari Baat (1943). He acted in two films for Bombay Talkies and became famous for his comic and romantic roles.




Bombay Talkies also inspired many other film makers and studios who followed its example and contributed to the growth and diversity of Indian cinema. Some of them are:



  • Filmistan: A film studio founded in 1943 by Ashok Kumar, Shashadhar Mukherjee, and others who left Bombay Talkies. It produced many popular films such as Shaheed (1948), Anarkali (1953), and Paying Guest (1957).



  • R.K. Films: A film studio founded in 1948 by Raj Kapoor, who left Bombay Talkies. It produced many classic films such as Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), and Mera Naam Joker (1970).



  • B.R. Films: A film studio founded in 1950 by B.R. Chopra, who worked as a director at Bombay Talkies. It produced many acclaimed films such as Naya Daur (1957), Waqt (1965), and Nikaah (1982).



  • Yash Raj Films: A film studio founded in 1970 by Yash Chopra, who worked as an assistant director at Bombay Talkies. It produced many blockbuster films such as Deewaar (1975), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), and Veer-Zaara (2004).




In 2013, four contemporary directors, Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, and Anurag Kashyap, made an anthology film titled Bombay Talkies, to celebrate the 100th year of Indian cinema and pay tribute to the legacy of the studio.


References





  • [Wikipedia]



  • [The Hindu]



  • [The Bombay Talkies Studios]



  • [Bombay Talkies]




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