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The showman of Indian cinema turns 90

The showman of Indian cinema turns 90

By Tarana Faroqi

Edited by Madhavi Roy, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

Legendary actor, director, producer Raj Kapoor celebrated his 90th birthday on the 14th of December. Google has marked the occasion with a doodle on its homepage.

 Whether it was the real and persuasive portrayal of a common man’s life or the thought-provoking issues his projects dealt with, Raj Kapoor left an indelible impact on Indian cinema. He started his career as a clap boy, and after then there was no looking back. His movies had mass appeal and attracted audiences from Europe, Middle East, the erstwhile Soviet Union and other Asian countries as well. It’s because of actors like him that the world respects Indian cinema and it is renowned world-wide. The Government of India felicitated him with a Padma Bhushan in 1971 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1987 for his contributions towards Indian cinema. He was also called the Clark Gable of the Hindi film Industry.

He had a deep understanding of what his audience expects from him and knew their tastes very well. His fan base was very strong in Russia, the reason being that back in the 50’s, the Soviet Union was in a mess and poverty stricken .They could identify Raj Kapoor as a symbol of optimism for the Soviet People. Even prominent figures like ex-President Boris Yeltsin and powerful Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov could be heard humming ‘Awara hoon’ .In fact, He is revered as an icon even today in Russia. So it does not come as a surprise when his Grandson Ranbir Kapoor visited Russia on a three day tour promoting his film Yeh Jawani Hai Dewani before the film released in India.

Raj Kapoor had a controversial love affair with Nargis. He was allegedly in a relationship with her despite being married to Krishna Kapoor .They did several successful films together, including Awaara and Shree 420. He is also known to have an on-and-off relationship with actress Vyjayantimala during the shooting of Sangam. Vyjayanthimala, however, rubbished reports of her link up and claimed that it was a mere publicity stunt to promote the film.

Very few people know that Raj Kapoor’s real name is Ranbir Raj Kapoor, and taking his legacy forward, his grandson was named Ranbir Kapoor.  He established his own production house R.K. Films, being the youngest actor to do so based in Mumbai. It was created in 1948, one year after the independence of India. It had a rough start, as its first movie, Aag, couldn’t perform well at the box office. Most of the R.K. Films productions shared a common idea of depicting love across social divide, wherein typically a ‘lower caste’ boy fell in love with an ‘upper caste’ woman, and the main theme criticized society and showed reality instead of creating an idyllic mirage in the mind of the audience. Unfortunately the production house did not last long and the last movie it produced was in 1999.

However his legacy has been carried forward by his three sons Randhir, Rishi and Rajeev Kapoor, who have been successful actors of their time, and today their children; Kareena, Ranbir and Karishma, continue to keep the “Kapoor’ legacy alive. The Kapoor family has played a major role in shaping what Indian cinema is today.

Tarana faroqi is a second year journalism student at Lady Shri Rram College for women. She is an avid reader and her interest span ranges from international affairs, social issues, and politics to films, old Hindi music writing and food. She is big coffee addict and loves to travel and explore new places.  A little perfectionist and hyperactive of sorts always wants the best end result. Being a social butterfly she is a friendly person by nature who is always willing to lend a helping hand. She describes herself as a feminist and aspires to work in the United Nations since she was in school.

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