(Last Updated on : 25/11/2014)
The other unparalleled genius of Hindustani cinema
is Raj Kapoor, Showman of Bollywood. He was the most illustrious offspring of a film family. Raj Kapoor was born to actor Prithviraj Kapoor
(a mythical figure of the 'Golden Age' of Hindi Cinema) and Devi Kapoor, in Peshawar. He was the eldest son of the Kapoor family. A native of Peshawar, Prithviraj Kapoor landed his first project in the Imperial Company's production, Cinema Girl by Ardeshir Irani. Prithviraj Theatres was later set up by him. The excellence of Prithviraj Kapoor was successfully carried forward by Raj Kapoor and this time through films.
He was the ultimate showman of Indian film industry. Wearing many caps: acting, directing and production- he excelled in all departments. Raj Kapoor won nine Filmfare Awards, and even achieved international recognition when two of his films (Awaara and Boot Polish) got selected for Cannes Film Festival. He was one of the early actors to have tasted global popularity when he almost became a household name across Soviet Union, Southern Asia and China. For his precious contribution to Indian Cinema, in 1971, Government of India honoured him with Padma Bhushan and later followed it up with Dadasaheb Phalke
Award in 1987.
Raj Kapoor was a successful showman and was able to touch chords with all and sundry. He was appreciated by both his fans and critics. Movie critics and film buffs refer to him as the "Charlie Chaplin of Indian Cinema
". He was a world figure and was adored by people from all around the globe. Since he was a master director and a fantastic story teller he had the capacity of bringing out the best out of all actors.
In 1948 Raj Kapoor founded the RK Films, his Production Company and studio. This banner produced 70 films, only 10 of which were directed by him. He was an unforgettable, Alexander the Great, in Sohrab Modi's Sikandar, even as he continued to perform Shakespeare in English on stage. He is often referred to as the greatest showman of the silver screen as his films dealt with a variety of themes and subjects. Till date Raj Kapoor remains the complete entertainer in India cinema. It was his films, such as, Shree 420 that brought back the image of the tramp. He was the Indian version of Charlie Chaplin, whose gestures he imitated marvellously well.
The Bombay studios were by no means out of touch with their times. Popular heroes in romantic tales were modelled on social outcasts. The post war audience was made of uprooted people. Raj Kapoor was at the very crest of optimism that ran through Indian cinema at that time, bearing the hopes for change in the liberated India. Some of his films from the Golden Era are known as classics. His best films have himself and Nargis
in the lead roles.
Raj Kapoor was progressive but he never set out to alter the set formulas of Hindi cinema. Indian loved him for the amalgamation of generosity and mild derision that through pathos, melodrama and marvellous music and songs enabled a social message to be communicated to the audience. He had an incredible understanding about the pulse of Indian audience and good sense of the market. He was one of the pioneering powers of Bollywood who first initiated the idea of films becoming a huge source of revenue earning. This concept is now a reality.
Raj Kapoor went on to act, direct and produce many Hindi cinema like; Barsaat in 1949, Shree 420 in 1955, Chori Chori in 1956, Jagte Raho in 1956 and Jis Desh Main Ganga Behti Hain in 1960. He was a dedicated and sincere director and that is proved from the fact that the making of Mera Naam Joker took him close to six years but he stuck with the project till the end. It was one of his ambitious projects, but when it finally released in 1970, it bombed at the box office. In the latter part of his career he directed and produced many woman centric films like; Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), Prem Rog (1982) and Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985)
Raj Kapoor died at the age of 63 due to asthama. During the time of his death, 1988, he was actually working on a film named Henna- a love story based on India-Pak). The film was, however, completed by his two sons Rishi and Randhir Kapoor. The movie finally released in 1991 and was a huge box office success.