80 – Year – Old ” New Theatres “


Yesterday when I was writing about 80 years of  ” ALAM ARA “ , first Hindi talkie , rather Indian talkie , I came across an article in Screen which states that B. N. Sircar’s legendary film production company ” New Theatres “ also completed 80 years on February 10 , 1931 . It was one month and four days before the epoch making ” ALAM ARA “ , that this legendary production company was launched . ” New Theatres ,   Calcutta [ now Kolkata ] was founded by producer B. N. Sircar a.k.a. Birendranath Sircar, the recipient of Dadasaheb Phalke Award of 1970.

Logo of New Theatres , Calcutta

Logo of New Theatres , Calcutta

The logo of ” New Theatres ” has an elephant in a circle with a quote from  Upnishads . It was like the famous logo of Hollywood’s production company MGM where a lion used to roar in the same kind of circle . Moto of New Theatres was – Jivatang Jyotiretu Chhayam means [ Light infusing shadows with life ]

Like Ardeshir Irani’s Imperial Movietone , New Theatres of Calautta [ now Kolkata ] produced ” Dena Paona,  the first Bengali talkie. It was released in 1931,  and was directed by Premankur Atarthi . Famous musician Raichand Boral composed music for this movie.

Scene from Dena Paona, 1931 - first Bengali Talkie

Scene from Dena Paona, 1931 - first Bengali Talkie

After first Bangla talkie, ” Dena Paona “ , ” New Theatres ” produced another path breaking film ” Devdas “ in 1935.  P.C. Barua directed and acted in ” Devdas , based on Saratchandra Chatterjee‘s novel ” Devdas and this film became phenomenally successful in the industry.

Pramathesh Barua and Jamuna Barua in Debdas, 1935

Pramathesh Barua and Jamuna Barua in Debdas, 1935

Pramathesh Barua and Jamuna Barua in Debdas, 1935.

Pramathesh Barua and Jamuna Barua in Debdas, 1935.

In 1935, playback singing was first used in India in the New Theartes production Bengali film ” Bhagya Chakraby Nitin Bose. The singers were K C Dey, Parul Ghosh and Suprabha Sarkar. ” Dhoop Chhaon Hindi remake of this film, was the first Hindi film to use playback singing. It was another feather in New Theaters’ cap .

Kanan Devi was the first popular star actress, who appeared in many films produced by ”  New Theatres “ . Also there was a group of talented actors with New Theatres like K.L. Saigal, K. C. Dey, Prithviraj Kapoor, Chhabi Biswas, Bikash Roy, Pahari Sanyal, Basanta Choudhury.

Top directors like Premankur Atarthi, P.C. Barua, Debaki Bose and Nitin Bose worked in New Theatres films. The Famous musicians who worked there include R. C. Boral, Pankaj Mullick and Timir Baran.

New Theatres used to make commendable films till 1955. From 1931 to 1955 , it was a 24 year long and illustrious journey . During this period New Theatres produced 150 path breaking films. Many of them are considered classics today . Name of some of the films , which are considered milestone , are given below :

Of the above mentioned films , I have seen two classics ; Pramathesh Barua directed ” Mukti “ [ 1937 ] and ” Devdas” .  Bimal Roy directed ” Udayer Pathe “ [ 1944 ] was later made in Hindi as ” Naya Zamana  ” starring Dharmendra and Hema Malini. I have seen the Hindi version.

Among all the illustrious directors , who worked in ” New Theatres ” , I was fortunate enough to meet Phani Majumdar and was able to take his blessings. Phani da made his debut with ” Street Singer “ , a Kundan Lal Sehgal starrer. It had famous Sehgal song – BABUL MORA NAIHAR CHHUTO HI JAY .  Later on he directed successful films like ” Aarti “ [ first film of Rajshri banner ] , ” Akashdeep ” and ” Oonche Log ” . I was fortunate enough to meet his actress wife Monice Desai also. Phani da died in 1994, when I was starting my acting training career.

After 55 years ” New Theatres ” , the legendary banner , is again producing a new film.

Ami Aadu (Upcoming Film, 2011) – Directed by Somnath Gupta

[I have taken some portions of this blog from the internet sites like Wikipedia and reproduced it here . Some facts are taken from Screen weekly. I express my gratitude .]







One Response

  1. Mr Chaturvedi, I read with interest the blog. Have just put finishing touches to my book on Kanan Devi. Wante to know if you could have a brief telecon with me/ I am Delhi based 9910 267828 and 8130 120 333 and mekhala61@gmail.com. Many thanks Mekhala


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