V. Shantaram used the film medium as an instrument of social change, an achievement for someone who wasn't well-educated. He began working in the theatre as a curtain-raiser and then graduated to acting. He directed his first film Netaji Palkar. Along with four partners, V G Damle, KR Dhaiber, S Fatelal and S B Kulkarni, he formed the Prabhat Film Company.
His Hindi debut was Duniya Na Mane (Kunku in Marathi) about a young woman refusing to get married to an older man. Aadmi (Manoos in Marathi) was a love story between a policeman and a prostitute and Padosi was about communal harmony.
He started Rajkamal Studios and made notable films like Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani, Dahej, the dance epic Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje and Do Aankhen Barah Haath and Navrang.
He launched his daughter Rajashree in Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne. Rajashree had a brief but good run in commercial cinema. Brahmchari , Janwar and Shehnai were her celebrated films.
Shantaram's son Kiran made a Marathi film titled Zunz and now manages Rajkamal Studio. He was once the Sheriff of Mumbai. He also organises film festivals in Mumbai. His son Chaitanya debuts as a director with Marathi film Isshya starring Ankush Chaudhary.
Dare To Differ
Back in the '40s this enterprising Gujarati youth began making films and he never stopped untill he had a huge tally of over a 100 films to his credit which mostly included mythologicals like Lakshmi Narayan, Lav Kush, Ram Janma and Janmashtami.
His sons Mahesh and Mukesh aspire to be as prolific as their father. Mahesh started off assisting the legendary Raj Khosla before wielding the baton himself, highlighting social issues through personal narratives like Arth, Naam and Zakham. Mahesh's younger brother worked earlier as a secretary to the late Smita Patil. After Smita's demise in 1986, Mukesh didn't want to continue as a secretary. He told his elder brother his secret desire of starting a production company. Mahesh was encouraging. That's how Mukesh launched Vishesh Films in 1986. Since then the brothers have been making films at frenetic pace - Sadak, Ghulam, Raaz and Murder are their all-time major commercial hits. Theirs is a synergy of Mahesh 's creativity and Mukesh's business acumen. Together they rock the box-office. Currently, Mahesh has taken to penning films. This one-time Osho devotee has renounced film direction completely.
Mahesh's daughter Pooja Bhatt had a successful run as a matinee idol in films like Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin , Junoon , Sadak Chahat, Tamanna and Zakhm before she debuted as a director with Jism. She makes films under her banner Fish-Eye Network. Her brother, Rahul, makes his acting debut soon, while Mukesh's son Vishesh has joined father's business.
Way back in 1930, an inconspicuous lad peering through the walls of a film studio became a stage hand, actor, camera assistant, director, producer and finally an industrialist - L.V.Prasad. He founded the Prasad Group in the year 1956 by starting Prasad Productions and produced over 26 feature films mainly in Hindi, setting standards and values that still continue to exist in today's films. Sharda, Beti Bete, Chhoti Behen, Sasural, Milan, Raja Aur Rank, Jeene Ki Raah, Khilona and Ek Duuje Ke Liye were some of his memorable jubilee hits.
In 1965 Prasad Studios was established to provide the post-production facilities to the film industry. Led by his son Ramesh Prasad, an engineer educated in the USA, a film processing unit in Chennai was set up in 1976.The Prasad Film Laboratories, Chennai is a Kodak Imagecare certified lab for negative processing.
L.V.Prasad's grandson Sai Prasad, also an engineer educated in the USA, joined a little later to make the group look towards the digital future of cinema. Thus the group expanded its reach into the digital domain and very soon strongly entrenched itself by starting Prasad Video Digital and then EFX. Today the services offered by the group spans the entire gamut of film post production - Film Processing, Digital Intermediate, HD Post, Film Restoration, Telecine, Audio, Video, NLE, Reverse Telecine, Visual Effects, Equipment Hire, Film Production, Entertainment Centre, Multimedia, and more through its facilities in India, Singapore and United Arab Emirates.
Going beyond this Prasad Group opened its multiplex, Imax theatre and Mall in Hyderabad in 2003. In a short span of time it has become 'the happening place' in Hyderabad. '
The Government of India released a Commemorative Postal Stamp in the memory of L.V.Prasad, a Dadasaheb Phalke awardee in 1982.
Theirs is such a traditional set-up. Their joint family business of films is as old as this nation - it's also sixty. But the Barjatyas have no qualms about their old-fashioned morals and dressing styles. Unlike the rest of the film industry in hot pursuit of modernity, they stick by their values. Sixty years ago, 19-year-old Tarachand Barjatya lay the foundations of the Barjatya empire as he launched Rajshri Distributors. He successfully distributed Southern and Hindi films and in 1960 he added a film production wing. Starting with Aarti, they have consistently made films based purely on Indian themes. Uphaar, Tapasya, Geet Gata Chal, Chitchor, Sawan Ko Aane Do and Saraansh share some of the films produced by Tarachand and his three sons, Kamal Kumar, Rajkumar and Ajit Kumar. Rajshri Productions is synonynous with wholesome entertainment.
In the '80s, Sooraj R.Barjatya, young scion of the family, took the box-office by storm with his platonic love story Maine Pyar Kiya, which inspite it's all-new cast won the hearts of the viewers. Sooraj repeated his magic with Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hain Koun, which was a jubilee hit. In times of home video-viewing, it drew audiences back to the theatres. His third venture, Hum Saath Saath Hain, a modern retake of Ramayana worked wonders too. Sooraj's last film Vivah, about the gossamer romance of a just-engaged couple won a grand applause, reiterating their belief in clean narratives and melodious music.
Rajshri ventured into television production few years ago with Woh Rehne Wali Mehlon Ki. The TV division is helmed by young Kavita, the niece of Sooraj. Rajshri Media, dealing in online broadband video stores and Wap store on mobile phones is headed by Rajjat, another family member.
From distribution to multimedia, Rajshri has spread its wings without compromising on their values. Without succumbing to market pressures of voyeurist demands, they continue churning out neat and clean products.