Saturday, September 25, 2021

The great showman of Indian films from the illustrious Kapoor family, Raj Kapoor has carved a special niche for himself in the tinsel world. This all rounder was an actor, director, story teller and producer well remembered for his all time popular hits.The veteran was born as Ranbir Raj Kapoor to Prithviraj and Rama Kapoor on December 14, 1924 in a small town Samandru in Peshawar, now in Pakistan. He started schooling in Peshawar and then when his family moved to Bombay in 1929, he continued his education in Calcutta and Bombay's Antonia D'souza High School. He did not complete his schooling but went forth with his first love - films.

His father Pritviraj Kapoor was a famous actor in stage as well as in films who established his own traveling theatre company the Prithvi Theaters in 1944 ( ). Raj Kapoor's first debut as an actor was when he was just 11 years old in the film Inquilab (1935). Then he dabbled with all the technical aspects in theatre as well as acted in some of the plays such as Deewar and Pathan produced by Prithvi. He worked for Bombay talkies for sometime and became a clapper boy cum assistant to Director Kidar Sharma. Seeing the young man's dedication, Kidar Sharma gave Raj Kapoor his first break as a lead actor in his film 'Neel Kamal'(1947) opposite Madhubala. There followed a number of inconsequential films but his heart was set on becoming a film maker in his own right.

In 1948, at the age of 24, he became the youngest film director of his times when he set up his own studio, R.K. Films and made his first feature film, Aag (Fire) starring himself and Nargis. His next film Barsaat (Rain(1949) with a passionate romantic theme, again with Nargis was a runaway success. Nargis and Raj duo made a popular lead pair and went on to draw huge crowds. Then followed Aawara (1951), a socio- musical romance revolved around the life of an innocent vagabond, which was simultaneously released in Russia as Bradyaga. The film was a huge success both in India and abroad and could be classified as his greatest hit.

In 1946, at the age of 22, Raj Kapoor married Krishna, his fathers first cousin. Krishna was a perfect match for him- the naive lady who was only 16 when she got married literally grew with him. She was later known for the perfect parties she hosted for his colleagues and associates. They had three sons and two daughters-Randhir, Ritu, Rishi, Rima and Rajeev. His sons followed his foot steps and turned in to direction and acting.

The fifties saw him establish himself as a producer director of great caliber as well as a top actor along with his fellow contemporaries Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand. For more than fifteen years, he remained an evergreen hero of Hindi films. It was Mehboob's Andaaz (1949) that initiated his rise as a top star, then his own films stabilized the process. Aawara was followed by Shri 420 (1955) about an innocent villager who gets corrupted when he comes to the city to make a living, Anadi (1959), a story on similar lines of a na´ve simple hero used by a cruel and corrupt society, Jis Des Mein Ganga Bahti Hai (1960) and Sargam (1964). Chori Chori and Jagte Raho (1956) were his last two film with Nargis as his lead pair. It is widely believed that this lead pair was involved romantically off screen as well.

In 1970, he released one of his most ambitious project 'Mera Naam Joker' about the life of a joker in a circus who cried within while making people laugh, outside. He took 6 years to complete the film and although it was brilliant in parts, the film was a failure at the box office. Kapoor was dejected but was back on his tracks with Bobby (1973) a teenage love story introducing Dimple Kapadia and his second son Rishi Kapoor which was a phenomenal success. With Bobby, he began to portray his heroines more sensually in his films. He continued with the trend in films like Satyam Sivam Sundaram (1978) starring Zeenat Aman and Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) introducing Mandakini. In between he made Prem Rog (1982) taking up a widow's cause and encouraging remarriage among them. His last film was Henna, an Indo- Pak love story, during the making of which he succumbed to his illness. He had been suffering from Asthma. The film was later completed by his elder son Randhir Kapoor.

Kapoor's films identified with the common man and appealed to all sections of the society. Some of his films had a patriotic feel about them. His heroes were mostly pure at heart people who could retain their innocence even in adverse circumstances. His portrayal in Awaara and Mera Naam Joker gave him the nick name the Charlie Chaplin of India. His movies had elaborate sets and exceptional music score, the songs in his films became popular hits. Most of his films, especially earlier ones were huge commercial successes in India as well as abroad in places like Africa, Middle East, Russia etc where he was very popular. He was also instrumental in introducing many new faces to Hindi Films. Music directors Shankar - Jaikishen, lyricists Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri in his film Barsaat, Actresses Nimmi, Dimple Kapadia, Mandakini and his sons Rishi and Rajiv were among them.

Raj Kapoor has won many awards during his life time. Apart from a number of film fare awards, he won the Grand Prix award (1957), Padma Bhushan(1971) and Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1987) for lifetime commitment to Indian Cinema. The very next year on June-2nd-1988 he passed away, at the age of 60.

This great veteran achieved much popularity in his lifetime and the fact remains that he was a great entertainer of the century.