The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Raj Kapoor : The Original Showman
The Original Showman
There is a heart in a human and a human in a heart.
Ruddy-cheeked and light-eyed, Raj Kapoor was unmis¬takably Destiny’s blue-eyed boy. It got him many film roles and the talented Kapoor made sure he left a mark in each of them.
After a few inconsequential roles, Raj Kapoor got his break as hero in 1947, in Kedar Sharma’s Neel Kamal opposite Madhubala. The next year, he plunged into directing his debut, Aag (1948), the dark, brooding meditation on love.
Raj Kapoor wonder started multi-tasking from the age of 24 when he produced, directed and acted in Aag (1948). Raj He first showed his scene-stealing abilities in Mehboob Khan’s Andaz (1949), where he co-starred with Nargis and Dilip Kumar. Kapoor played Nargis’s flamboyant but suspicious husband with aplomb. Flamboyance was his forte in other early successes like Dastaan and Sargam as well.
Kapoor was only 25 when his directorial venture Barsaat won him recognition as one who enjoyed a direct connection with the masses. Moreover, the self-obsessive pain of Aag paved the way for a more universal empathy evidenced in the way he captured mountain maid Nimmi’s anguish in Barsaat.
The actor-director enjoyed rare creative control of his image and his work. His next venture Awara (1951) was a fascinating and psychologically adept look at a man caught in the centre of a nature-versus-nurture debate.
His knack for romance is revealed in the famous sequence where an angry Kapoor slaps Nargis after she calls him Awara. He is angry at her for being so attractive and assured, at himself for not quite being able to come to terms with his feelings of inadequacy prompted by his dubious background, at his libido for wanting her and at his ego for living in constant dread of a probable rejection.
Awara, when released in Russia as Brodigaya, achieved unprecedented success and the song Awara hoon became a Russian favourite.
Kapoor’s RK banner flew high with Shri 420 (1955), the story of a hobo (Kapoor) caught between material aspirations (as represented by the sharp Nadira) and the higher self (as represented by school-teacher Nargis). The tramp of Shri 420, who doffed his battered bowler hat to Chaplin, touched a universal nerve.
The popularity of this tramp with a golden heart grew to gargantuan dimensions after Kapoor portrayed almost saintly extensions in Anadi (1959) and Jis Desh Mein Gongo Behti Hai (1960); and, later, in Deewana (1967), Sapnon Ka Saudogar (1968) and Mera Naam Joker (1970).
Kapoor’s Sangam (1964) saw a love triangle centering around a man (Kapoor), his wife (Vyjayantimala) and their best friend (Rajendra Kumar). His ability to see and empathise with each character’s emotional viewpoint spoke volumes about his sensitivity as a director. Sangam’s thunderous success triggered off a vogue + foreign locales Love In Tokyo, An Evening In Paris in Hindi films.
After Sangam, a now-rotund and 40- plus Kapoor looked lacklustre in films like Around The World opposite much younger heroines like Rajshri and Hema Malini. But the actor was too obsessed with his pet project, Mera Naam Joker to realise he should be eating and drinking less.
In the ambitious Mera Naam Joker, Kapoor seemed undecided about the film’s scope—should the tale about a clown’s tragic love story strive for intimacy or restrict itself to spectacle or, maybe, strive for a bit of both? The film failed to live up to the high expectations of the audience.
Any other man would have lost heart after such a debacle, but not Raj Kapoor. Despite creditors beating at his door, he refused to keep the lid on production expenses and defiantly made Bobby (1973) with two newcomers, Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia.
Even if one is not predisposed towards young love stories, one enjoys Bobby for the sheer beauty of its visuals, the exuberance of youth and Kapoor’s ability to transcend the generation gap when communicating to his audience.
Bobby’s stellar success was not duplicated by Kapoor’s next, Satyom Shivam Sundaram (1978). Kapoor valiantly attempted to recycle Aag and convince us that, in love, a beautiful soul is of paramount importance. But his camera’s predilection for heroine Zeenat Aman’s curves told another story.
Raj Kapoor’s sensitivity towards his female protagonists found more favour in Prem Rog (1982), a film about widow remarriage, and Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985), where he employed a woman as a metaphor for a once pure, but now defiled, country.
He had the unique ability to marshal talents like writer K A Abbas, iyricists Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri, music maestros Shanker-Jaikishan, singer Mukesh and numerous actors and make them work at their optimum.
He gifted names like Nimmi, Dimple Kapadia, Rishi Kapoor, Padmini Kolhapure and Mandakini to the film industry.
Raj Kapoor’s Landmark films as Actor
Raj Kapoor’s Landmark films as Director
Raj Kapoor’s Famous Songs
As a romantic actor, his onscreen romance with Nargis, fuelled by larger-than-life stories of their off-screen relationship, was a glorious chapter in the cinematic history of Hindi cinema. But the roles Raj Kapoor played best were those of a messiah of social change and of the impassioned advocate of universal love.