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RK Studio not on heritage list, can be redeveloped

January 16, 2019 05:40 AM


RK Studio not on heritage list, can be redeveloped
Heritage committee tells govt officials that despite the site’s significance, it cannot prevent a sale or reconstruction

The celebrated RK Studio in Chembur, which was gutted in a blaze in September 2017, does not need approval from the city heritage committee to undergo redevelopment, the panel has informed the state. The studio is not subject to such conservation procedures as it is not a designated heritage property.

The state has also removed a potential hurdle for reconstruction by deleting the reservation for a public road that was marked in a portion of the studio site in Mumbai’s new Development Plan.

The studio was founded by ‘The Showman’ Raj Kapoor in 1948. Last year, film buffs and political parties urged the government to preserve the iconic institution as a heritage property, after reports emerged that the Kapoor family was planning to put it on the block. The Congress demanded that the place be turned into a film museum; the city party chief, Sanjay Nirupam, wrote to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis saying the government should buy the land.

“For the Kapoor family, this will surely be more of an emotional loss than a financial one. Over the past few decades, the people of Mumbai have developed an emotional bond with the studio,” Nirupam wrote.

But a senior member of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) said there was nothing it could do if the site changed hands or was redeveloped. “After the letter, we conducted a basic investigation and found that RK Studio is not on the list of heritage structures. The state government added several old structures in M Ward to the list in 2012, but the studio was not among them,” the member said. “Technically, it is not a protected structure and therefore, no permission of the MHCC is required for its redevelopment.”

The committee, however, has urged the government to at least try and preserve the studio’s main gate and the famous RK logo. Several memorable films such as Barsaat, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, Awaara, Shri 420, Boot Polish, Jagte Raho, Mera Naam Joker and Satyam Shivam Sundaram were made there. Unlike some other movie banners, RK Studios preserved all the costumes that were used in films shot there over a six-decade period. On September 16, 2017, a huge fire caused severe damage, raising doubts about the place’s future amid the reports about its potential sale.

Another MHCC member said the studio might not be a designated heritage property, but it had a lot of historical significance. “We have recommended that the gate and the logo should be preserved. The ball is in the government’s court,” he said.

The committee had earlier suggested that the property should be included in the heritage list. “It was not part of the published list of 2012. However, the committee felt RK Studio, being one of the important structures/sites of socio-economic history, could be considered for inclusion in the list,” its note read.

It added: “However, while forwarding the report of M Ward, it was opined by authorities concerned that the task of considering the suggestions/objections on the entire list of 2012 had to be completed first and then a competent authority could consider the recommendation for additional listing, if required. It was concluded that at this stage it would not be appropriate to carry out any new survey for additional heritage listing

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