Bombay Talkies

ACMI Bombay Talkies Film still from IZZAT, with Devika Rani nursing an injured Ashok Kumar, 1937. Image courtesy of the Dietze Family Trust.Capturing the excitement and glamour of early Indian cinema, a new exhibition currently on display at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) showcases the legendary Indian film studio, Bombay Talkies.

In 1934, ambitious and entrepreneurial filmmaker Himansu Rai (1892-1940) and his movie-star wife Devika Rani (1908-1994) co-founded the legendary Bombay Talkies film studio. After creating landmark silent films in the 1920s based on traditional Indian stories, which were largely seen in Europe, they turned their attention to home.

As co-founders of the legendary Bombay Talkies film studio, they aimed to make films about contemporary India that would speak to a wide audience. Releasing 40 films over 20 years the studio was one of India’s most innovative and highly resourced, launching the careers of several prominent luminaries including Ashok Kumar and Raj Kapoor.

The exhibition showcases, for the very first time, the Dietze Family Trust archive, a Melbourne-based treasure trove of more than 3000 cultural artefacts once owned by Himansu Rai. The archive is the most comprehensive collection of 1920s and 1930s Indian film studio ephemera in the world.

With lavish production values and a global outlook, Bombay Talkies was renowned for producing films on controversial topics such as the caste-system and women’s roles in Indian society. It is credited with introducing the musical narrative structure that characterises modern Bollywood, as well as spearheading the film world’s first international co-productions.

Bombay Talkies
Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Federation Square, Melbourne
Exhibition continues to 2 July 2017
Free admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Film still from IZZAT with Devika Rani nursing an injured Ashok Kumar, 1937 – courtesy of the Dietze Family Trust