After 71 years of playing host to thousands of films and their crews, the cavernous halls of the iconic R K Studios will no longer hear echoing shouts of ‘lights, camera, action!’. It was early last year when Rishi Kapoor announced his family’s decision to sell it off. Established by his late father Raj Kapoor in 1948, the studio finally changed hands on Monday with Godrej Properties snapping it up.
Clichéd as it may sound, this marks the end of an era where the studio served as the headquarters of Kapoor’s film production company: R K Films.
Godrej on Friday said that it is currently in the process of converting the 3.5 lakh square feet of land into residential apartments and luxury retail space. While the size of the deal has not been disclosed, the market value of the property is estimated at around `200 crore. The studio is prime real estate, located in close proximity to hospitals, retail malls and residential and commercial areas.
“We are happy to add this iconic site to our development portfolio. This fits well with our strategy of deepening our presence in key locations across India’s leading cities,” said Pirojsha Godrej, executive chairman, Godrej Properties.
Raj Kapoor decided to expand R K Films into a studio in 1950, reportedly using the earnings from his 1949 hit Barsaat. “In the Bombay of the 1950s this was a remote rural place, far from its centre in south Bombay,” wrote Mihir Bose in Bollywood: A History.
R K Films entered its golden period with the release of Awaara (1951), Boot Polish (1954), Shree 420 (1955) and continued to turn up crank out films in the 70s and 80s like Mera Naam Joker (1970), Bobby (1973) and Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) were shot.
Until 2017, R K Studios housed all the memorabilia of R K Films including costumes used in various movies, trophies won by Raj Kapoor and rare photos, posters and many such novelty items. That year, however, a devastating fire gutted a major part of the studio. After failed attempts to renovate it, the Kapoors put it on the market. Eldest son of Raj Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor had said after the sale that the cost of maintaining the iconic studio was too high.
Studio sitting on highly valued real estate
According to local sources, current commercial property rates in and around Chembur, where the studio is located, range from H25,000-29,000 per square feet. Work on the designs for Godrej’s mega-project are set to begin shortly.