indian cinema heritage foundation

“Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne” - Rajkamal Studio

17 Apr, 2020 | Beete Hue Din by Shishir Krishna Sharma
Rajkamal Kalamandir. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

The year 1942 has a special place in the history of Hindi cinema. In this year three major film companies came into existence which not only achieved an important place in the history of Hindi Cinema by continuously producing excellent and successful films but also gave many fine artistes to the cine world. These were Filmistan, Basant Pictures and Rajkamal.  Filmistan was founded by Sashadhar Mukherjee after he parted ways from Bombay Talkies and Basant Pictures was founded by Homi Wadia who parted ways from his elder brother J.B.H.Wadia’s company Wadia Movietone. Rajkamal was founded by V. Shantaram after he severed ties with Pune’s famed Prabhat Studio and shifted to Mumbai. 
 

V Shantaram, founder of Rajkamal Kalamandir. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
Born in a Kolhapur based Jain family, Shantaram Vankudre started his career as a child actor in Gandharva Natak Company. Surekha Haran (1921) was Shantaram’s debut movie which was produced by producer-director Baburao Painter’s Maharashtra Film Company.
Born in a Kolhapur based Jain family, Shantaram Vankudre started his career as a child actor in Gandharva Natak Company. Surekha Haran (1921) was Shantaram’s debut movie which was produced by producer-director Baburao Painter’s Maharashtra Film Company. Shantaram played Krishna in this movie. Apart from working as an actor in the movies produced under the banner of Maharashtra Film Company, Shantaram also learnt the nuances of film making as an assistant to Baburao Painter. In the year 1929 Shantaram, along with his partners Vishnupant Damle, Sheikh Fattelal, Keshavrao Dhaiber and Sitaram B.Kulkarni founded Prabhat Film Company at Kolhapur which was shifted to Pune in 1933. By making purposeful movies like Maya Machhindra (1932), Amrit Manthan (1934), Duniya Na Maane (1937), Aadmi (1939), Padosi (1941) and India’s 2nd color movie Sairandhri (1933) under the banner of Prabhat Film Company, V. Shantaram soon joined the league of that time’s ace film makers. But suddenly the circumstances took such a turn that he was forced to bid adieu to Prabhat. In the year 1942 he put the foundation of Rajkamal Studio in Mumbai’s Lalbag-Parel area. 
 
Rajkamal main building. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
 
In the year 1942 he put the foundation of Rajkamal Studio in Mumbai’s Lalbag-Parel area. 
In spite of being the founder member of Prabhat Film Company, the main reason behind V. Shantaram’s parting ways from this company was to break their self-made rules. In fact, all the founding partners of the company were Marathi speaking people who believed in Indian traditions and culture. They all made some specific rules for the company together, among which the main rule was that everybody associated with the company should be of good morals and character. Another rule was that no married actress will be allowed to work with the company. In the year 1941, V. Shantaram started the film Padosi in Prabhat with a new actress Jayashree in the main lead. But during the shoot of the film, Jayashree and V. Shantaram became close and got married. This incident created turmoil in Prabhat as V. Shantaram was already a married man. He married his first wife Vimla Tai in the year 1922 and after 19 years of married life he had married Jayashree now. As per the rules a married actress wasn’t allowed to work with the company therefore all other partners in Prabhat pressured Jayashree to resign. On the other hand, there was also great protest against V. Shantaram due to his remarriage. Perforce V. Shantaram had to bid adieu to Prabhat. He shifted from Pune to Mumbai where he put the foundation of Rajkamal  Kalamandir in the year 1942. 
 
Jayashree in Dahej. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

V. Shanataram’s son Kiran Shantaran says, “Earlier it was Wadia brother’s Wadia Movietone Studio at this place. After Homi Wadia parted ways, J.B.H. Wadia rented this place to V. Shantaram.  First movie made under the banner of Rajkamal Kalamandir was Shakuntala with Chandra Mohan, Jayashree, Nimbalkar, Johra and Nana Palsikar in the main roles, which released in the year 1943. Music of this film was composed by Vasant Desai. In the next 4 decades around 40 Hindi-Marathi movies were made under the banner of Rajkamal Kalamandir. Apart from Maali, Parbat Pe Apna Dera (both 1944), Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahaani (1946), Matwala Shayar Ram Joshi, Andhon Ki Duniya (both 1948), Dahej (1950), Subah Ka Tara (1953), Navrang (1959), Sehra (1963), Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti (1967), these also included Apna Desh (1949) in Telugu and Palatak (1963) in Bangla”.  
 
Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne (1964). Image Courtesy: Cinemaazi archives
 
Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955) and Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957) won the President Medal of the Best Film while Stree (1961) was awarded with the Best Feature Film Award by American Motion Pictures Academy. Geet Gaaya Pattharon Ne won the National Award for Best Direction for the year 1964.
Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955) and Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957) won the President Medal of the Best Film while Stree (1961) was awarded with the Best Feature Film Award by American Motion Pictures Academy. Geet Gaaya Pattharon Ne won the National Award for Best Direction for the year 1964. Actor Chandrashekhar who was till then used to do small roles was made hero in Surang (1953) and Marathi film’s actress Sandhya who played a side role in Parchhain (1952) debuted as heroine in Hindi films with Teen Batti Chaar Rasta (1953). Child artist (Baby) Nanda also debuted in the main lead with Rajkamal's Toofan Aur Diya (1956).  According to Kiran Shantaram, after remaining a tenant for 8 years, V. Shantaram bought this property from J.B.H. Wadia in the year 1949 and christened it Shant Shri. 
 
Shakuntala (1943). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
According to Kiran Shantaram, after remaining a tenant for 8 years, V. Shantaram bought this property from J.B.H. Wadia in the year 1949 and christened it Shant Shri. 
Apart from being a successful producer, director and actor, V. Shantaram was also an excellent administrator. After looking after Censor’s Advisory Board as its president for 7 straight years in the 1940’s decade, he became president of the Films Division’s production department. Apart from being the Head of the Guild in 1950’s he also founded the Children’s Film Society. He was awarded with the Dadashaheb Phalke Award by the Government of India in 1985.  
 
Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946).Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
 
He was awarded with the Dadashaheb Phalke Award by the Government of India in 1985.
In the 1970’s decade Rajkamal’s banner produced Jal Bin Machhli Nritya Bin Bijli (1970), Pinjra (Hindi/Marathi-1973), Chani (1977) and Raja Rani Ko Chahiye Paseena (1979) along with 2 Marathi movies Chandanachi Choli Anga Anga Jali (1975) and Jhunj (1976). Kiran Shantaram says, “Due to increasing age, by the beginning of the 1980’s decade V. Shantaram’s activities started declining. After sitting idle for 7 years he again tried to be active as a producer-director with the 1986 release Jhanjhar. But this film flopped miserably in the box office and proved to be the last film of the Rajkamal Kalamandir banner. V. Shantaram died in the year 1990 at the age of 89 years.  
 
Kiran Shantaram. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din


Command of the prestigious film production company Rajkamal Kalamandir of the bygone era is now in the hands of V. Shantaram’s son Kiran Shantaram from his second wife Jayashree. V. Shantaram’s third wife and the heroine of his films Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, Navrang, and Sehra actress Sandhya (Vijaya Deshmukh) still resides on the second floor of the main building of Rajkamal Studio. But she doesn’t want to keep any contact with the outside world. As far as Rajkamal is concerned, its identity has been merely reduced to a studio that rents its shooting floor, lab & recording room to the outside producers. 

[Part of Shishir Krishna Sharma's Beete Hue Din blog series]
 

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