Bombay Talkies was primarily the cherished dream of Himanshu Rai, who had to struggle hard to make it a reality. It had the distinction of being the first-ever public limited film company, with a glittering array on its board of directors. The Bombay Talkies Limited was founded in 1934 as a joint stock company with a working capital of Rs 25 Lakh. Bombay Talkies was an innovative and highly resourced movie studio. In line with international standards, the studios' facilities included sound and echo-proof stages, laboratories, editing rooms and a preview theater. The reputation of Bombay Talkies was further enhanced by employing experienced European technicians, the most prominent of whom was Franz Osten.
Bombay Talkies set a high technical standard for film making in India and was credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the medium of movie making and acting, reputedly higher than standards set by rival Indian film production companies. Bombay Talkies acquired a reputation for changing the aesthetics and technology traditionally associated with Indian films.
The first film to be produced under this banner was Jawani Ki Hawa. Among the major achievements of Bombay Talkies was the introduction of very simple Hindustani as the dialogue, which was in sharp contrast to the high flown Urdu used until then. Further it was Himanshu Rai who introduced Ashok Kumar to the screen with Jeevan Naiyya.
Achhut Kanya, completed and released injust eight weeks, created cinematic history and is recognised as one of the classics of the Indian screen.
Following the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the company faced a number of problems. The most significant change for the studio involved Himanshu Rai, the studio's founder, suffering a nervous breakdown which ultimately resulted in his demise. Following the shock caused by his demise, control of the film company passed on to Devika Rani who was appointed as the key producer of the Bombay Talkies studios. Despite, or perhaps because of, her prior experience as an actress, Devika Rani was highly successful in sustaining the production values of the company, and the studio subsequently retained its dominance over the rapidly expanding Indian film industry. The most successful Bombay Talkies films produced during this period included Kangan and Bandhan, both of which featured Leela Chitnis and Ashok Kumar. In 1943, Kismet created a local record for the longest continual showing of the same film. The movie continued to run for more than three and half years at the Roxy movie theater in Calcutta, India.
Ashok Kumar along with Devika tried to run the company, but in 1943, Ashok went on to establish another studio, Filmistaan with Shashadhar Mukherjee and Rai Bahadur Chunnilal. In 1945, Devika Rani married the Russian painter Svetoslav Roerich. Control of the studios the passed to Govindram Saxena, who asked Hiten Choudhary to take over. But people started leaving the studion in 1953, Tolaram Jalan, a business from Calcutta bought the studio. After two shooting schedules he shut down the gates , this time for good. And then converted the sprawling premises into an industrial estate.
Bombay talkies introduced some of the most talented artists, like, Ashok Kumar, Leela Chitnis, Madhubala , Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Leela Chitnis, P.L. Santoshi, Kishor Sahu, P. Jairaj, Asit Sen, Mumtaj Ali, Nalini Jaywant, Kamini Kaushal, Snehprabha, Kanan Devi, Pran, Usha Kiran, Renuka Devi, Mukri, Kishore Kumar, Kamal Amrohi, Guru Dutt, Suraiya, Bimal Roy, Nitin Bose, Salil Chowdhary, Kavi Pradeep, Franz Osten, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Sashadhar Mukherjee etc, to name a few.
In these 19 years, Bombay talkies produced over a 100 films, and many of them went on do massive business, produced the quality actors, directors, composers and other craftsmen.