RK Studios: Has the AAG burned the AAH of immense historic nostalgia?

R.K Films

Kal khel men ham ho na ho, gardish men taaren rahenge sada, Bhuloge tum bhulenge wo, par ham tumhaare rahenge sada, Rahenge yahin apane nishaan, is ke siwa jaana kahaan (in tomorrow's game, I may not be there, yet I will part of history of time, I may forget, you may forget, yet I will always be yours, ours signs will linger here)..

The above lines keeps on haunting as this question lingers again and again – has Indian cinema’s most lovable clown and puppets of Raj Kapoor’s MERA NAAM JOKER still safe and sound?

What is the future of the famous Chaplin’s ‘The Tramp’ inspired shoes and coat worn by the legendary filmmaker? Those classic mansions seen in RK’s classics, the revolving stage where Rishi Kapoor’s iconic “Om Shanti Om” song from KARZ was shot, are they safe?

Soon after the news of the iconic stage no.1 of the RK studios gutted under fire has spread, the industry is expressing deep sadness and concern over the loss and fear that the invaluable memorabilia and costumes of all RK Films may have lost in the unfortunate fire.

Rishi Kapoor’s post on his social media handle about the “loss of irreplaceable memorabilia and costumes of all RK Films” had film enthusiasts, historians, the media and public in general be anxious about the fate of the property that carries immense historic significance and it’s priceless.

The Kapoors are not answering the question citing legal and insurance issues, however a report in HT says that the BMC has issued a letter to the studios to “remove dangerous or damaged portion” and take necessary precautions to avoid any further mishap on the site. The report further states that according to fire officials, the cause of fire is yet to be ascertained. Prima facie, it seems like short circuit was the reason the fire erupted and it spread rapidly owing to the presence of a huge number of combustible materials in the studio.

This has raised serious questions amongst a section which are raising concern by saying that the feared loss of the irreplaceable memorabilia and costumes of RK films is the most tragic incident of recent times. The legacy, property of RK, his films and his cinema may be legally owned by The Kapoors but it’s a treasure of Indian cinema which deserved better care and protection.

It’s high time the Hindi film industry should have dedicated heritage museum to preserve and celebrate our cinema. It’s a joint responsibility of the Kapoors and the film industry in general to safe guard our invaluable heritage. Is the present generation of Kapoors not capable in doing so?

In 1948, at the age of twenty-four, the greatest showman of Indian cinema Raj Kapoor established his own studio, R. K. Films, and became the youngest film director of his time with AAG starring himself with Nargis, Kamini Kaushal and Premnath. AAG was unique in its theme in exploring the embodiment of desires of the protagonist. BARSAAT followed next year that established the studio with its first blockbuster and gave the studio its iconic emblem. Then came AAH which continued the ‘Aah’ (read pleasure, joy) of mainstream cinema wrapped in socially relevant messages by the ‘Clark Gable’ of the Indian film industry Raj Kapoor, who always believed in long term associations be it cinematographer Radhu Karmarkar, storywriters K.A. Abbas and V.P. Sathe, lyric writer Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri, composer duo Shanker-Jaikishan, and playback singer Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar.

We don’t know how much nostalgic moments and costumes are safe, yes there is a silver lining that the negatives of RK films are said to be safe in another building but the time to save our heritage has arrived. We don’t want another iconic studio like R.K. Studios lost like the case with Ranjit Studios which is now pity sight in Mumbai.

In few days we will come to know how bigger and invaluable is the loss, it’s such a irony that the iconic studio that began with AAG (fire, desire) by RK in later years failed to maintained the AAH (pleasure, joy, satisfaction) by the next generations in neither carrying its cinematic legacy forward nor in providing proper care and protection to the invaluable heritage which is now feared to have been lost.