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Himanshu Rai

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Subject: Raj Narayan Dube, Devika Rani, Niranjan Pal, Svetoslav Roerich, Kismet (1943 film)
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Himanshu Rai

Himanshu Rai
হিমাংশু রায়
Himanshu Rai
Born 1892
Cuttack, [Orissa Presidency
Died 16 May 1940 (aged 48)
Nationality British India
Ethnicity Bengali Hindu
Occupation Filmmaker
Religion Hinduism
Spouse(s) Devika Rani

Himanshu Rai (also known as Himanshu Ray or Himanshu Roy) (Bengali: হিমাংশু রায়) (1892 – 16 May 1940), one of the pioneers of Indian cinema, is best known as the co-founder of the Bombay Talkies in 1934, along with Rajnarayan Dube and Devika Rani.[1][2] He was associated with a number of movies, including Goddess (1922), The Light of Asia (1925), Siraj (1926), A Throw of Dice (1928) and Karma (1933). He was married to actress Devika Rani Chaudhuri (1908-1994).


  • Biography 1
  • Bombay Talkies 2
  • Filmography 3
    • Producer 3.1
    • Actor 3.2
    • Writer 3.3
    • Director 3.4
  • Notes and references 4
  • External links 5


Born in an aristocratic family, he spent several years in Santiniketan for his schooling. After obtaining a law-degree from Kolkata, he went to London to become a barrister. There he met a playwright and screenwriter Niranjan Pal. That association led to making of a film The Light of Asia, which he co-directed with Franz Osten. Rai was also one of the main actors in this film. While making his third film, A Throw of Dice, he met and fell in love with beautiful Devika Rani, a great-grandniece of the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Before this film was complete, he married her.

Bombay Talkies

Devika Rani kissing Himanshu Rai in Karma (1933)

At Bombay Talkies studio, Rai partnered with Sashadhar Mukherjee, and Mukherjee's brother in law worked as a technician in the studio. Due to suspected romantic liaisons between his wife and the leading man in one film, Himanshu sacked the leading man and cast the gawky, awkward-looking and reluctant brother-in-law Ashok Kumar as the leading man. Kumar went on to have a successful career in films.

After Rai's death, there was a struggle for studio control. His widow Devika Rani was in conflict with Sashadhar Mukherjee. Eventually there was dual control and alternate production of films by the two camps. During this era Mukherjee produced the studio's biggest hit Kismet in 1943. Then Mukherjee broke away to form Filmistan Studio in partnership, and Devika Rani, fully in charge of the studio, did not have as much success.

In 1945 Devika Rani married Svetoslav Roerich and moved away from Bombay and films. Ashok Kumar and Mukherjee made a bid to revive Bombay talkies and produced one big hit in Mahal. Eventually the studio shut down and is now a decrepit property in Malad.



  • Kangan (1939) / The Bangle (English title)
  • Izzat (1937)
  • Jeevan Prabhat (1937)
  • Savitri (1937)
  • Achhut Kanya (1936) / Untouchable Girl (English title)
  • Janmabhoomi (1936)
  • Jeevan Naiya (1936)
  • Jawani Ki Hawa (1935) / Leichtsinn der Jugend (Germany title)
  • Karma (1933)
  • Prapancha Pash (1929) / A Throw of Dice (English title) / Schicksalswürfel (Germany title)
  • Shiraz (1928) / Grabmal einer großen Liebe (Germany title)


  • Karma (1933)
  • Prapancha Pash (1929) / A Throw of Dice (English title) / Schicksalswürfel (Germany title)
  • Shiraz (1928) / Grabmal einer großen Liebe (Germany title)
  • Prem Sanyas (1925) / Leuchte Asiens (Germany title)



  • Prem Sanyas (1925) / Leuchte Asiens (Germany title)

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Bombay Talkies of Devika Rani fame set to be revived". The Sunday Guardian. December 7, 2013. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  2. ^ "Bombay Talkies that launched Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor makes a comeback". The Times of India. November 26, 2013. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 

External links

  • Himanshu Rai at the Internet Movie Database
  • Himansu Rai profile, (Bengali)
  • Bombay talkies and her forgotten heroes
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