Mumbai: A significant slice of Indian cinematic history fell into the abyss of oblivion last Thursday (June 29) as the Bombay Talkies warehouse at Mumbai’s Borivali burned down. Abhay Kumar, grandson of Bombay Talkies founder Rajnarayan Dube, said a short-circuit caused the fire around 8.30 that evening.
The warehouse was stashed with pre-1947 era film stock that used to be made on highly inflammable nitrate base, and the blaze was overpowering. Mr Kumar said it took four-five hours for firefighters to control the fire.
“Barring a few films that were digitised and uploaded on the Internet, all prints and negatives were burnt to ashes,” Mr Kumar said. That is not all: the fire also claimed key documents such as photographs, posters and even some letters by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru. Very few people are even aware of the existence of the Netaji letters, Mr Kumar said.
He said during World War II, Netaji had sent a letter to Rajnarayan Dube asking him to make films on nationalism and patriotism. “This, he said, would inspire citizens to fight for Independence. In response, we made the song Door Hato Ae Duniya Walo, Hindustan Hamaara Hain in the superhit film Kismet. Netaji sent a note of thanks after watching the film,” he added.