wiki:New Theatres

New Theatres

Main Bengali studio and one of the élite banners in pre-Independence Indian cinema. Set up by Birendra Nath Sircar (1901-80) in 1931 as a sound studio in Tollygunge, Calcutta, following on from Sircar’s silent International Filmcraft (Est: 1930 in association with Charu Roy and Prafulla Roy). New Theatres acquired Tanar equipment and the services of Wilford Deming, a Hollywood sound technician imported by Ardeshir Irani. The studio attracted major technical and creative talent from several smaller silent studios then on the verge of collapse: Indian Kinema provided Nitin Bose, the writer, scenarist and filmmaker Premankur Atorthy, the stars Durgadas Bannerjee, Amar Mullick, Jiban Ganguly, etc.; from Barua Pics came P.C. Barua himself and Sushil Majumdar; British Dominion Films supplied Dhiren Ganguly. Sircar aimed for a cinematic equivalent of literature: ‘Immediately after the establishment of New Theatres, the first film I made was Saratchandra [Chatterjee]’s Dena Paona (1931). The first director of New Theatres was Premankur Atorthy, the famed litterateur. The film was not a success. Yet, I could perceive that following the path of literature would lead to the discovery of the right path. Seven subsequent films met with the same fate but each film pointed to the ultimate way’ (1961, in Jha, 1990). This formula had been launched at Madan Theatres when they purchased exclusive film rights to all of Bankimchandra Chatterjee’s prose and was followed by New Theatres, leading to such cinematic oddities as the big-budget Natir Puja (1932), credited with Rabindranath Tagore’s direction. New Theatres then opted for a more melodramatic mode with Debaki Bose’s Chandidas (1932). The most famous New Theatres productions were the P.C. Barua and Nitin Bose films and its major star was K.L. Saigal. The studio had many directors on its payroll (most studios managed with one in-house director, using Bfilms made by assistants or other employees to keep the production flow going) and invested massively in technological innovation (e.g. the work of sound recordist Mukul Bose). The decline of the studio is usually linked to the resignation in 1941 of Nitin Bose, one of their top directors and head of the technical units. Its fall is also connected with the rise of the Western and Southern Indian markets during and immediately after WW2, as the studio had never established its own outlets and was increasingly at the mercy of professional distributors charging crippling commissions. There are several accounts of the studio’s outright sale of film rights to groups like the Kapurchands, often at a loss. In 1944 Bimal Roy made an influential debut (Udayer Pathey) initiating a trend mainly realised in Bombay (e.g. Hrishikesh Mukherjee). The studio finally closed in 1955, although Sircar remained closely involved with film industry organisations, being on the board of the FFC for some years.


Last modified 12 years ago Last modified on Jun 28, 2012, 3:56:45 PM