Raj Kapoor’s RK Studios in Chembur, an eastern suburb of Mumbai, has slipped into history. The 2.2-acre iconic landmark has been sold to Godrej Properties, the Godrej group’s real estate company. Although neither party is willing to put a figure to the deal, the industry estimate is that the plot went under the hammer for close to Rs 200 crore.
The plot is located on the Sion-Panvel highway, an arterial road that connects the southern tip of the city with many townships of Navi Mumbai. Of the total area, about 33,000 sq metre (around 350,000 sq ft) of saleable area can be built, Godrej Properties said on Friday. Prices in high-end buildings around the RK Studios area are around Rs 25,000 a sq ft in terms of carpet area, say real estate brokers.
Pirojsha Godrej, executive chairman, Godrej Properties, said, “This fits well with our strategy of deepening our presence in key locations across India's leading cities. We will seek to ensure we celebrate the remarkable legacy of this site with the goal of delivering an outstanding lifestyle for its residents.”
Set up in 1950, the studio is an indelible part of Bollywood lore and local history. Some of the brightest stars from the Hindi film industry have passed through its hallowed gates and it has rolled out some of the industry’s biggest hits. From Awara to Bobby and Ram Teri Ganga Maili, all were shot here.
The sale of the studio has been closely tracked ever since the announcement made by actor Rishi Kapoor in August 2018 that the family had decided to put the property on the block. Under Godrej, the studio will make way for swanky residential towers and a luxury mall.
Not only is the deal being seen as the end of an era for Bollywood, and as one of the largest blocks of real estate to go under the hammer in the eastern suburbs of the city, it is expected to transform the local landscape and influence property prices in the area.
For people in the area, the studio has been synonymous with the state’s annual Ganapati festival and the raucous Holi parties that drew the who’s who of the industry into its imposing iron gates that walled off gawking passers-by from the stars inside. The studio’s decline began soon after the death of the patriarch Kapoor and as studios in the Western suburbs of the city grew more popular, it lost its sheen.
The final straw was a fire in September 2017 that gutted large parts of the studio and burnt down precious memorabilia. The Kapoors, widely acknowledged as the first family of the Indian film industry, with Ranbir Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor being the latest generation of actors in play, say they found it difficult to maintain the place.
Rishi Kapoor had said that the decision to sell came after a lot of heartburn. His announcement caused an uproar with fellow actors and politicians decrying the decision.
One even suggested that the government take it over and build a national film museum in honour of Raj Kapoor.
However, the family seems to have had the last word. And after a long hunt and months at the negotiating table, Godrej Properties won the day.
Randhir Kapoor, actor and son of Raj Kapoor, said: “This property in Chembur has been of tremendous significance to my family over the many decades that RK Studios has operated from there. We are excited to have chosen Godrej Properties to script a new chapter for this location and build upon its rich history.”