Born in Cuttack, Orissa, in the year 1892, Himanshu Rai was a notable Indian actor and director. He was probably the first producer to join hands with the European moviemakers to introduce high-tech equipment in India used in the making of a film. Himanshu was born in a high-born Bengali household. He did his schooling from Santiniketan in Kolkata and attended the University of Calcutta where he was a law student.
Himanshu then went ahead to become a law attorney in London. He came across a famous director, Niranjan Pal in London. His association with Niranjan Pal landed him with a job as a co-director of the film, The Light of Asia (1928). The Light of Asia was inspired by a book of the same name penned down by Sir Edwin Arnold and the director the movie was
. Himanshu not only co-directed this film but also worked as an actor. He not only produced and directed several films but also played main roles in the films.
Shiraz (1928), A Throw of Dice/Prapanch Pash (1929), The Light of Asia/Prem Sanyas (1925) and Karma (1933) are some of the movies in which he starred in the main roles. During the filming of the film, A Throw of Dice (1929), he met
, a famous Indian actress. Devika and Himanshu first got introduced to each other in London, and Himanshu fell for the Indian beauty quickly.
Himanshu then offered her a job to work as an assistant of the film, A Throw of Dice. An insight into their personal life tells us that Himanshu and Devika tied the knots long before the completion of this movie in 1929. After their wedding, Devika moved to Germany to learn acting and movie making at the Universum Film AG, Berlin. In the year 1934, Himanshu and Devika returned to India and opened a production studio of their own and named it as
. The Bombay Talkies studio was a joint venture of Himanshu Rai and Shashadhar Mukherjee.
In 1933, Karma was released under the banner of Bombay Talkies and Himanshu and Devika were the lead characters in the movie. Karma is still famous for the lip-lock scene between the couple. At the time of shooting the film, Jeevan Naiya (1936), Devika developed feelings for her co-star Najm-ul-Hassan. She engaged in adultery and ended up running away with Hassan.
But everything was settled after that between Devika and Himanshu and she returned to him. Himanshu had to offer the role of the lead male in Jeevan Naiya to
. In 1940, Himanshu Rai passed away because of depression and there were legal fights between Devika and Shashadhar over the possession of the studio.
In 1943, Shashadhar produced a super-hit movie, Kismet. After that, he formed a studio of his own and Devika took over as the head of the Bombay Talkies studio. But then the movies produced under the banners did not do good numbers and eventually studio had to shut down. Himanshu was a successful producer who produced super-hits like Acchut Kanya, Izzat, Savitri and much more. He is still a well-known personality in the Indian cinema.