|Born||Ranbir Raj Prithviraj Kapoor
14 December 1924
Peshawar, British India
(now in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan)
|Died||2 June 1988
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Other names||The Show Man|
|Occupation||Actor, Producer, Director|
|Years active||(1935–1985 Eng.)|
Raj Kapoor (14 December 1924 – 2 June 1988), also known as "The Show Man", was a noted Indian film actor, producer and director of Hindi cinema. He was the winner of two National Film Awards and nine Filmfare Awards in India, and a two-time nominee for the Palme d'Or grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his films Awaara (1951) and Boot Polish (1954). His performance in Awaara was ranked as one of the top ten greatest performances of all time by Time magazine. His films attracted worldwide audiences, particularly in Asia and Europe. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1971 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1987 for his contributions towards Indian cinema.
Early life and background
Raj Kapoor was born in Dhakki Munawwar Shah near Qissa Khwani in Peshawar, British India into a Punjabi Hindu family to Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Devi Kapoor. He was the eldest of six children in the family. He was the grandson of Dewan Basheshwarnath Kapoor and great-grandson of Dewan Keshavmal Kapoor, part of the famous Kapoor family. His brothers are actors Shashi Kapoor and the late Shammi Kapoor. He also had a sister named Urmila Sial. Two other siblings died in infancy.
At the age of eleven, he appeared in films for the first time, in 1935's Inquilab. After acting in several films over the next 12 years, Raj Kapoor's big break came with the lead role in Neel Kamal (1947) opposite Madhubala in her first role as a leading lady. In 1948, at the age of twenty-four, he established his own studio, R. K. Films, and became the youngest film director of his time making his directorial debut with Aag starring himself, Nargis, Kamini Kaushal and Premnath. In 1949 he co-starred alongside Dilip Kumar and Nargis in Mehboob Khan's blockbuster Andaz which was his first major success as an actor.
He went on to produce and star in several hit films made under his RK banner including Barsaat (1949), Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Chori Chori (1956), Jagte Raho (1956) and Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960). These films established his screen image modeled on Charlie Chaplin's most famous screen persona of The Tramp. Outside of his home productions his other notable films included Anari (1959), Chhalia (1960) and Teesri Kasam (1966).
In 1964, he produced, directed and starred in the romantic musical Sangam alongside Rajendra Kumar and Vyjayantimala which was his first film in colour. This was his last major success as a leading actor as his later films like Around the World (1966) and Sapnon Ka Saudagar (1968) with younger starlets Rajshree and Hema Malini were box office flops. In 1965 he was a member of the jury at the 4th Moscow International Film Festival.
In 1970 he produced, directed and starred in his ambitious film Mera Naam Joker which took more than six years to complete. His son Rishi Kapoor made his debut in this film playing the younger version of his character. When released in 1970, it was a box office disaster and put Kapoor and his family into a financial crisis. In later years it was acknowledged as a classic.
In 1971, he launched his eldest son Randhir Kapoor in the family drama Kal Aaj Aur Kal starring himself, his son Randhir, his father Prithviraj Kapoor as well as Randhir's would-be-wife Babita. He launched his second son Rishi Kapoor's career in 1973 when he produced and directed Bobby which was a huge box office success and introduced actress Dimple Kapadia, later a very popular actress; it was the first of a new generation of teen romances. Dimple wore bikinis iwhich was quite unique for Indian films then. In 1975 he acted alongside his son Randhir again in Dharam Karam, which Randhir directed.
In the latter half of the 1970s and early 1980s he produced and directed films that focused on the female protagonists: Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) with Zeenat Aman, Prem Rog (1982) with Padmini Kolhapure and Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) which introduced Mandakini. He acted in fewer films by the late 1970s and early 1980s but played notable supporting roles alongside Rajesh Khanna in Naukri (1978) and alongside Sanjay Khan in Abdullah (1980). In 1979 he was a member of the jury at the 11th Moscow International Film Festival.
Raj Kapoor's last major film appearance was in Vakil Babu (1982) where he appeared with his younger brother Shashi. His last acting role was a cameo appearance in a 1984 released British made-for-television film titled Kim.
Raj Kapoor suffered from asthma in his later years; he died of complications related to asthma in 1988 at the age of 63. At the time of his death, he was working on the movie Henna (an Indo-Pakistan based love story). The film was later completed by his sons Randhir and Rishi Kapoor, released in 1991 and became a huge success at the Box Office. When he was being conferred upon the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, where his brother Shashi Kapoor was also present, the crowd was clapping around when President Venkataraman, who saw Kapoor's discomfort, came down the stage to give the award to the legend in the middle of thundering claps where he was having breathing difficulties. And suddenly Kapoor collapsed, and was rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for treatment. He was hospitalised for about a month before he succumbed to complications arising from his asthma. The country's top cardiologists tried their best, but could not save him.
Raj Kapoor is appreciated both by film critics and movie fans. Film historians and movie buffs speak of him as the "Charlie Chaplin of Indian cinema," since he often portrayed a tramp-like figure, who, despite adversity, was still cheerful and honest. His fame spread worldwide. He was adored by audiences in large parts of Africa, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, China, and Southeast Asia; his movies were global commercial successes. Raj had the knack of getting the best out of any one, since he had mastered all departments of film making and even marketing them.[peacock term] When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru died in 1964 coinciding with release of Sangam, he took the opportunity to create a scene when Gopal ashes were immersed in Ganges, like Pandit Nehru described in his poetic will. His films reflected the Era in which it was made.
He had a great understanding of the public taste and a great sense of Box-Office. He was one of the pioneers of the Indian cinema, who talked about the potential of Hindi cinema emerging as a great revenue earner from the world market in fifties, which has become a reality today.
Many of Raj Kapoor's movies had a patriotic theme. His films Aag, Shree 420 and Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (In the country where the Ganges flows) celebrated the newly independent India, and encouraged film-goers to be patriots. Raj Kapoor commissioned these famous lyrics for Mera Joota Hai Japani, a song from the movie Shree 420:
- Mera joota hai Japani (My shoes are Japanese)
- Ye patloon Inglistani (These trousers are English)
- Sar pe lal topi Roosi (The red cap on my head is Russian)
- Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani (But still, however, my heart is Indian)
The song is still extremely popular and has been featured in a number of movies since Shree 420 was released. Indian author Mahasweta Devi stopped the show with her inaugural speech at the 2006 Frankfurt Book Fair when she used these lyrics to express her own heartfelt patriotism and debt to her country.
Raj Kapoor was a canny judge of filmi music and lyrics. Many of the songs he commissioned are evergreen hits. He introduced the music directors Shankar-Jaikishan and the lyricists Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra. He is also remembered for his strong sense of visual style. He used striking visual compositions, elaborate sets, and dramatic lighting to complete the mood set by the music. He introduced the actresses Nimmi, Dimple Kapadia, and Mandakini, as well as launching and reviving the careers of his sons Rishi, Randhir and Rajiv. He was also famous for making his actresses wear revealing clothing which was not very common in Indian cinema.
A postage stamp, bearing his face, was released by India Post to honour him on 14 December 2001. To honour him, a brass statue of his was unveiled at Walk of the Stars at Bandra Bandstand in Mumbai in March 2012.
In 1940, Raj Kapoor married Krishna Kapoor, who was his relative, being the daughter of Raj Kapoor's father's maternal uncle. It was a match arranged by the family, and Krishna proved to be a wife and mother in the traditional mould, which is what the family wanted. Two of Krishna's brothers, Rajendra Nath and Prem Nath, later became actors, and her sister Uma was married to the film villain Prem Chopra.
Kapoor is also known to have had a longtime romantic relationship with the renowned actress Nargis during the 1950s. The couple starred in several films together, including Awaara and Shree 420 despite Kapoor being a married man. As Raj would not leave his wife and children, Nargis ended their relationship after Chori Chori and married Sunil Dutt which left Kapoor heartbroken. Kapoor also had an affair with renowned actress Vyjayantimala during the shooting of Sangam. Vyjayanthimala has denied that she was ever involved with Kapoor. She deemed the whole thing as a publicity stunt by Kapoor to promote his film. She later married Kapoor's doctor, Chamanlal Bali. Kapoor has also been linked with the southern actress Padmini. 
Three of Kapoor's grandchildren are currently stars in the Bollywood film industry. His granddaughters are Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor, the daughters of Raj's son Randhir Kapoor and his wife Babita. His grandson Ranbir Kapoor is son of Rishi Kapoor and his wife Neetu Singh.
Kapoor had received many awards throughout his career, including 2 National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, 11 Filmfare Awards and 19 nominations. His films Awaara (1951) and Boot Polish (1954) were nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. His acting in the former was rated as one of the "Top-Ten Performances of all time", by the Time Magazine. His film Jagte Raho (1956) also won the Crystal Globe award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1971 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1987 – the highest award for cinematic excellence in India. In 2001, he was honoured with “Best Director of the Millennium” by Stardust Awards. He was named “Showman of the Millennium” by Star Screen Awards in 2002.
In June 2011, Noah Cowan, Artistic Director of TIFF Bell Lightbox, and Sabbas Joseph, Director, Wizcraft along with members of the Kapoor family came together to pay tribute to the life and work of Indian actor, director, mogul and legend Raj Kapoor, as presented in partnership by TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA), and the Government of Ontario.Indian Mirror Reports suggest Kapoor will be inducted onto the Brampton Walk of Fame in Ontario, Canada.
Association with other artists
Shankar-Jaikishan were his music director of choice. He worked with them in 20 films in all including 10 of his own films from Barsaat until Kal Aaj Aur Kal. (Jagte Raho with Salil Chowdhury and Ab Dilli Dur Nahin being two exceptions in this period). Only after Jaikishan died, did he turn to a different music director – Laxmikant-Pyarelal for Bobby, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, and Prem Rog (later on his children used Laxmikant-Pyarelal for Prem Granth also) and Ravindra Jain for (Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Henna). It is interesting to note that Raj Kapoor acted in a movie with music by Madan Mohan only once(twice) i.e. Dhoon (1953)&Aashiana(1952) which featured duet Hum pyar karenge by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, only instance Hemnat Kumar giving playback to Raj Kapoor, and did only one movie with O. P. Nayyar (Do Ustad). He also acted in one movie directed by his son Randhir Kapoor "Dharam Karam" which had music by R.D.Burman. The film was not a success at the box office but the music captivated the screen.
List of films with Shankar-Jaikishan: (18 Films)
- Raj Kapoor and Nargis worked together in 16 films including 6 of his own productions.
Mukesh and Manna Dey
Mukesh was Raj Kapoor's almost exclusive singing voice in almost all of his films. Also, when Mukesh died, Raj had said, Main ne apni aawaaz ko kho diya... (I have lost my voice...). However Manna Dey has also sung many notable and super-hit songs for Raj Kapoor, for instance in Shree 420 and Chori Chori. Examples of such Manna songs are best illustrated by the following list:
- "Laga Chunri Mein Daag" (Dil Hi To Hai)
- "Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua" (Shree 420)
- "Ae Bhai Zara Dekh Ke Chalo" (Mera Naam Joker)
- "Dil Ka Haal Sune Dil Wala" (Shree 420)
- "Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandni Mein Hum" (Chori Chori)
- "Jahan Mein Jati Hoon Wahin Chale Aate Ho" (Chori Chori)
- "Yeh Raat Bhigi Bhigi, Yeh Mast Fizayen" (Chori Chori)
- "Masti Bhara Hai Samaan" (Parvarish)
- "Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh" (Shree 420)
- "Chalat Musafir" (Teesri Kasam)
- "Belia Belia Belia" (Parvarish)
- "Lallah Allah Tera Nigehbaan" (Abdullah)
- "Mama O Mama" (Parvarish)
- The Kapoors: the first family of Indian cinema, by Madhu Jain. Penguin, Viking, 2005. ISBN 0-670-05837-8.
- Allmusic biography
- "All-Time 100 Movies". Time. 12 February 2005.
- Bengali Cinema: 'An Other Nation' by Sharmistha Gooptu
- Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explorations, and Analysis edited by Stella Bruzzi, Pamela Church
- Bengali Cinema: 'An Other Nation' by Sharmistha Gooptu
- "Prithviraj Kapoor: A centenary tribute". Daily Times / University of Stockholm. Retrieved 3 November 2007.
- "Prithviraj Kapoor:". Kapoor Family Page. Retrieved 3 November 2007.
- Jain, Madhu (2005). The Kapoors: The First Family of Indian Cinema. Viking (India). ISBN 978-0670058372.
- "4th Moscow International Film Festival (1965)". MIFF. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- "11th Moscow International Film Festival (1979)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
- "Remembering Indian cinema's greatest showman.'". movies.rediff.com. Retrieved 22 Oct 2010.
- Raj Kapoor – The man, who foresaw the overseas business
- Pradhan, Bharathi S. (13 December 2009). "Bye bye, Bina". The Telegraph (Kolkata) (Calcutta, India).
- "'Raj Kapoor Crescent'". Asian Image (Lancashire UK). 9 June 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2011. "The city will also like to induct Shri Raj Kapoor into the Brampton Hall of Fame, having a star placed there in his honour.."
- Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul. Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. London: British Film Institute; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994
- Kishore, Valicha. The Moving Image. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1988
- Raj Kapoor at the Internet Movie Database
- 12 Indians who are famous in Russia
- The Raj Kapoor Fan Club
- The Kapoor Family Site