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Cinema City: Research Art and Documentary Practices

Film Studios

The first film studio in Bombay was of Dada Saheb Phalke at Dadar Main Road in 1912. By the mid-1920s, two distinct areas in the city were occupied by film studio / company clusters: Grant Road–Charni Road and Dadar–Parel.  After the advent of Talkie the requirement for restricted zones for shooting increased and studios with sprawling campus and indoor shooting floors came up at the outskirts of the city.  In these studios from the creative artists to the artisans all were attached to the company on a monthly pay roll. 

After WWII the studio system collapsed as many independent traders started putting their unaccounted war profits into film business. Since ‘50s the studios started renting out their facilities to other production companies. Thus the establishments of film Studio turned into a service industry and the artists became free lancers and the artisans wage laborers.

Currently all outdoor studios are either shut down or shrinking under pressure from the real estate market and family feuds. We documented some still standing studios and the various ‘set templates’ that they offer – from entire village sets to Kashmiri gardens.

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Veerchand Dharamsey who let us pick his brain and wade through his memories to get a better understanding of the development of the studio system in Bombay, through the 20th century.