Bombay Talkies

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For the 2013 film, see Bombay Talkies (film).
Bombay Talkies
Industry Entertainment
Founded June 22, 1934; 81 years ago (June 22, 1934)
Founders
Defunct October 13, 1953 (October 13, 1953)
Headquarters Malad, Mumbai, India
Area served
undivided India
Products

Bombay Talkies was a movie studio founded in 1934. During its period of operation the Bombay Talkies produced 40 movies in Malad, a suburb of the Indian city of Bombay (now known as Mumbai).

The Studio was established in 1934 by Himanshu Rai and the Devika Rani. After Rai's death in 1940, Rani took over the Studio. Besides the founders, Ashok Kumar was the leading actor of the Studio until 1943, when he founded another studio – Filmistan – with Shashadhar Mukherjee. After Rani's retirement, Kumar and Mukherjee took over Bombay Talkies. The last film produced by the Studio was released in June 1954.[1][2]

Early years[edit]

For the period in cinematic history it represented, the Bombay Talkies was considered to be an innovative and highly resourced movie studio. In line with international standards, the studios' facilities included sound and echo-proof stages, laboratories, editing rooms and a preview theater. The reputation of the Bombay Talkies was further enhanced by employing experienced European technicians, the most prominent of whom was Franz Osten.

The Bombay Talkies set a high technical standard for film making in India and was credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the medium of movie making and acting, reputedly higher than standards set by rival Indian film production companies. Bombay Talkies acquired a reputation for changing the aesthetic and technology traditionally associated with Indian films. It was also renowned for producing films on (then) controversial topics such as those dealing with love between an untouchable lower caste girl and a high caste Hindu Brahmin boy (Achhut Kanya).

Devika Rani, who became one of Bombay Talkies' most successful actresses, and India's first film diva, appeared in Jawani ki Hawa (1935) and Jeevan Naiya (1936), as well as a number of other highly successful productions by the company. The studio was similarly recognized as having launched the careers of several prominent Indian film industry luminaries including Devika Rani, Ashok Kumar, Leela Chitnis, Mehmood Ali, Madhubala and Dilip Kumar. Madhubala and Dilip Kumar, who co-starred in four Bombay Talkies films, engaged in a long term, highly covert love affair.[3] Raj Kapoor worked as an assistant to Amiya Chakravarty of Bombay Talkies, before becoming a famous director.[4]

Success[edit]

Following the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the company faced a number of problems. The most significant change for the studio involved Himanshu Rai, the studio's founder, suffering a nervous breakdown which ultimately resulted in his demise. Following the shock caused by his demise, control of the film company passed on to Devika Rani who was appointed as the key producer of the Bombay Talkies studios. Despite, or perhaps because of, her prior experience as an actress, Devika Rani was highly successful in sustaining the production values of the company, and the studio subsequently retained its dominance over the rapidly expanding Indian film industry. The most successful Bombay Talkies films produced during this period included Kangan and Bandhan, both of which featured Leela Chitnis and Ashok Kumar. In 1943, Kismet created a local record for the longest continual showing of the same film. The movie continued to run for more than three and half years at the Roxy movie theater in Calcutta, India.

Decline[edit]

Despite Devika Rani's success as the Bombay Talkies' head producer, in 1943 a rift arose between her and her managers Sashadhar Mukherjee and Ashok Kumar. Although reasons for the rift have never been made public and largely remain unclear to film industry observers, Sashadhar Mukheerjee and Ashok Kumar allegedly attempted to begin their own production house under the guise of Bombay Talkies. Despite Devika Rani, Sashadhar Mukherjee, and Ashok Kumar attempting to create a working relationship which involved alternating production of major films between the two rival production camps, the relationship proved untenable and was fraught with allegations of sabotage, dramatic ego clashes, in-fighting, and the relentless circulation of malicious rumors.[citation needed]

Negotiations between Devika Rani on the one hand and Sashadhar Mukherjee and Ashok Kumar on the other failed to unite the company. Shashdhar Mukherjee, Ashok Kumar and a few others left the company in 1943 to found Filmistan. In 1945, Devika Rani marries the russian painter Svetoslav Roerich, sells her Bombay Talkies shares and leaves the industry. After several tentatives to reunite the studio, it is sold to Tolaram Jalan, a businessman, who decides to cease its operations in 1953.

Timeline[edit]

  • 1934: The Bombay Talkies film company is conceived and established.
  • 1935: Jawani ki Hawa, a thriller starring Devika Rani is released.
  • 1936: Jeevan Naiya and Achhut Kanya are released to wide acclaim.
  • 1940: Himanshu Rai, a key founder of the Bombay Talkies passes away.
  • 1942: The actress Madhubala makes her debut as a child artist named Baby Mumtaz in the movie Basant.
  • 1943: Kismet, a successful thriller, is released.
  • 1944: Dilip Kumar's first movie Jwar Bhata is released.
  • 1948: Ziddi, featuring Dev Anand is released, transforming the previously unknown actor into a well known celebrity.
  • 1949: Mahal, becomes a hit film.
  • 1954: The Bombay Talkies company is closed down.
  • 1994: Devika Rani, a highly respected actress and former head of production for the Bombay Talkies studios dies in Bangalore on 9 March 1994.
  • 2001: Ashok Kumar, who appeared in a number of Bombay Talkies productions dies on 10 December 2001.

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Director Music Director Cast
1935 Jawani Ki Hawa Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Najamul Hussain, Devika Rani
1936 Achhut Kanya Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Ashok Kumar, Devika Rani
1936 Janmabhoomi Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Ashok Kumar, Devika Rani
1936 Jeevan Naiya Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Ashok Kumar, Devika Rani
1936 Mamta and Miya Biwi Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Devika Rani, Najmul Hussain, J. S. Casshyap
1937 Izzat Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Ashok Kumar, Devika Rani
1937 Jeevan Prabhat Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Kishore Sahu, Devika Rani
1937 Prem Kahani Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Ashok Kumar, Maya Devi
1937 Savitri Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Ashok Kumar, Devika Rani
1938 Bhabhi Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Renuka Devi, P Jairaj
1938 Nirmala Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Ashok Kumar, Devika Rani
1938 Vachan Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Ashok Kumar, Devika Rani
1939 Durga Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Devika Rani, Rama Shukul
1939 Kangan Franz Osten Saraswati Devi + Ramchandra Paal Leela Chitnis, Ashok Kumar
1939 Navjeevan Franz Osten Saraswati Devi Hansa Wadkar, Rama Shukul
1940 Azad N R Acharya Saraswati Devi + Ramchandra Paal Leela Chitnis, Ashok Kumar
1940 Bandhan N R Acharya Saraswati Devi + Ramchandra Paal Leela Chitnis, Ashok Kumar
1940 Punar Milan Najam Naqvi Ramchandra Paal Snehprabha, Kishore Sahu
1941 Anjaan Amiya Chakrabarty Pannalal Ghosh Devika Rani, Ashok Kumar
1941 Jhoola Gyan Mukherjee Saraswati Devi Leela Chitnis, Ashok Kumar
1941 Naya Sansar N R Acharya Saraswati Devi + Ramchandra Paal Renuka Devi, Ashok Kumar
1942 Basant Amiya Chakrabarty Pannalal Ghosh Mumtaz Shanti, Ullhas
1943 Hamari Baat M.I. Dharamsey Anil Biswas Devika Rani, Jairaj
1943 Kismat (or Kismet or Qismat) Gyan Mukherjee Anil Biswas Ashok Kumar, Mumtaz Shanti
1944 Char Ankhen Sushil Majumdar Anil Biswas Jairaj, Leela Chitnis
1944 Jwar Bhata Amiya Chakravarty Anil Biswas Dilip Kumar (debut), Mrudula, Shameem
1945 Pratima Jairaj Arun Kumar Mukherjee Dilip Kumar, Swarnalata, Jyoti, Mukri
1946 Milan Nitin Bose Anil Biswas Dilip Kumar, Meera Mishra, Ranjana, Moni Chatterjee
1947 Nateeja Najam Naqvi Rasheed Atre Yaqub, Shamim, Majid Khan
1947 Noukadubi Nitin Bose Anil Biswas Abhi Bhattacharya, Meera Mishra
1948 Majboor Nazir Ajmeri Ghulam Haider Munnawar Sultana, Shyam, Sohan
1948 Ziddi Shaheed Latif Khemchand Prakash Kamini Kaushal, Dev Anand, Veera
1949 Mahal Kamal Amrohi Khemchand Prakash Ashok Kumar, Madhubala, Kumar
1950 Samar Nitin Bose S. D. Burman Sumitra Devi, Ashok Kumar
1950 Sangram Gyan Mukherjee C. Ramchandra Nalini Jaywant, Ashok Kumar, Nawab
1950 Mashaal Nitin Bose S. D. Burman Ashok Kumar, Sumitra Devi, Ruma Devi
1952 Maa Bimal Roy S. K. Pal Bharat Bhushan, Leela Chitnis, Kusum Deshpande, Arun Kumar
1952 Tamasha Phani Majumdar Manna Dey, S. K. Pal, Khemchand Prakash Dev Anand, Meena Kumari
1954 Badban Phani Majudar Timir Baran, S. K. Pal Dev Anand, Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Franz Osten and the Bombay Talkies: Journey from Munich to Malad by Amrita Ganger (Max Mueller Bhavan, Bombay, 2001)

Coordinates: 19°10′45″N 72°50′35″E / 19.17903°N 72.84292°E / 19.17903; 72.84292 (Bombay Talkies Compound)