Just as today India has Corporate Film Studio Companies like Yash Raj Films Pvt Ltd, Dharma Productions Pvt Ltd, Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd, Eros International Media Ltd etc likewise Bombay Talkies was India’s First Corporate Film Studio that ruled the 30’s and 40’s and launched top stars like Devika Rani, Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor and others.
The amazing thing of pride is that Bombay Talkies was the film company that was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). It had a board of directors, issued shares to the public, declared dividends and bonuses. The studio had a trainee programme center where job aspirants from leading universities were hired and given job training and after a scheduled training they were assigned job.
Bombay Talkies was founded by filmmakers Himanshu Rai and Devika Rani. The duo first met in London where Himanshu Rai was making a film Light Of Asia (1925), on the life of Gautam Buddha. Devika Rani was the set designer. Love blossomed and subsequently, they married. They returned to Mumbai with the dream of building a world-class film studio. Thus came up Bombay Talkies. It was built in the suburb of Western Mumbai’s Malad region and was equipped with state-of-the-art equipment from Germany and British talent. The studio had every facility that ranged from sound and echo-proof film shooting sets, laboratories, editing rooms, and a preview theater.
The film studio hired international technical crew like cinematographer Josef Wirsching, art director Karl von Spretti and director Franz Osten. Bombay Talkies broke the traditions of film making in India and unlike the trend of mythological films or adventure-based fantasy drama, Bombay Talkies started with a totally different style. Their debut film was a murder mystery Jawani Ki Hawa (1935), with Devika Rani and Najamul Hussain. The film was a huge hit as it was a suspense love story that the Indian audience had never watched.
Bombay Talkies‘ next Achhut Kanya with Ashok Kumar as the new hero was India’s first major box office hit film. The tragic love story between a low-caste girl and a Brahmin boy won the Indian hearts. Soon the Rani and Kumar Jodi became hit and Bombay Talkies gave several hit films like Jeevan Naiya, Kangan, Bandhan, Jhoola, etc.
After the death of Himanshu Rai in 1940, Devika Rani took the reins of Bombay Talkies but after World War –II the British government jailed the German technicians working at Bombay Talkies. This was the first jolt to Bombay Talkies. Later Devika had a stiff within the board of directors consisting of a rebel group led by Ashok Kumar, Gyan Mukherjee, and S Mukherji, who formed a new company, Filmistan, in 1943.