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Director, Mehboob Film Studios
Deep in the heart of Mumbai’s suburb Bandra, where film stars’ mansions bump up against an urban slum, Shaukat Khan, BS 62, runs one of the five great Bollywood studios, Mehboob. On any given day, six studio stages host four to six film or photography sets, from product shots to educational films to the song and dance of Bollywood.
Khan inherited the studio from his father Mehboob Khan who put it on the map when his iconic film Mother India won an Academy Award nomination for best foreign film in 1958. Today, the patriarch’s two sons guide the future of the family business.
To prepare for his role, Shaukat Khan came to California in 1959. He enrolled at UC Berkeley because he enjoyed its unique culture and stimulating sense of camaraderie.
“Berkeley was a thorough education,” he says, “both inside and outside the classroom.”
Khan enjoyed the balance of business and marketing classes matched with campus offerings in sociology, psychology, and political science. “I received a very well-rounded education, which gave me the confidence to talk to professionals in all different disciplines,” he says. “I am very grateful for that.”
Back in India, he applied his new skills and confidence to work his way up to director of Mehboob. Thanks to corporate funding, Bollywood has been booming and so have real estate prices in Bandra. As a result, the Mehboob studio — and others like it — sit on valuable real estate; some studios have started moving far to the north where land prices are still reasonable.
“Things are changing,” says Khan. “But one thing is clear: People will always go to the movies and watch television — it’s an essential part of life in India.”
Khan speaks little of his own accomplishments. But as the film industry has changed, he has deftly reinvented his father’s famous studio to keep up with the times. Instead of producing its own films, Mehboob now rents its facilities and is equipped and staffed to accommodate the ever-changing needs of film producers, advertising creatives, photographers, and other media professionals.
In honor of the past, the corridor to Khan’s office is lined with classic Bollywood posters. Khan’s favorite films? Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard and Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali. “They’re brilliant,” he says. “Both these films will stay with you long after you have left the theater.”
Shaukat Khan, BS 62