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Hindi: आवारा, Urdu: آوارہ, romanizedĀvārā
Directed byRaj Kapoor
Written byKhwaja Ahmad Abbas
Screenplay byKhwaja Ahmad Abbas
Story byKhwaja Ahmad Abbas
V.P. Sathe
Produced byRaj Kapoor
StarringPrithviraj Kapoor
Raj Kapoor
Leela Chitnis
K. N. Singh
Shashi Kapoor
CinematographyRadhu Karmakar
Edited byG.G. Mayekar
Music byShankar–Jaikishan
All India Film Corporation,
R.K. Films
Distributed byR.K. Films
Release date
14 December 1951
Running time
193 minutes
Box officeest. ₹15.6 crore
Awaara (1951)

Awaara, also written Awāra[n 1] and known overseas as The Vagabond,[1][2][3] is a 1951 Indian Hindi crime drama film, produced and directed by Raj Kapoor, and written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. It stars Raj Kapoor along with his real-life father Prithviraj Kapoor, as well as Nargis, Leela Chitnis and K. N. Singh. Other members of the Kapoor family make an appearance, including Raj's youngest brother Shashi Kapoor, who plays the younger version of his character, and Prithiviraj's father Dewan Basheshwarnath Kapoor, playing a cameo in his only film appearance. The film's music was composed by Shankar Jaikishan.

The film expresses socialist themes,[1][4] and blends social and reformist themes with the crime, romantic comedy and musical melodrama genres.[5] The plot centers on the intertwining lives of a poor thief Raj (played by Raj Kapoor), the privileged Rita (played by Nargis), and Judge Raghunath (played by Prithviraj Kapoor) who is unaware that Raj is his son. In the film, Kapoor's poor "little tramp" character references Charlie Chaplin and was further developed in other Kapoor films such as Shree 420. Awaara is considered a milestone in the history of Bollywood.

The film became an overnight sensation in South Asia, and found even greater success further afield in the Soviet Union, East Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.[6][7] In particular, the song "Awaara Hoon" ("I am a Vagabond"), sung by Mukesh with lyrics by Shailendra, became hugely popular across the Indian subcontinent, as well as in countries such as the Soviet Union,[8][9] China,[1][4] Bulgaria,[7] Turkey, Afghanistan, and Romania. The film was also nominated for the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953.[10] The film is estimated to have sold over 200 million tickets overseas, including more than 100 million in China and about 100 million in the Soviet Union.[11][12] Owing to its popularity in so many countries, the film is a candidate for the most successful film of all time.[7] In 2012, Awaara was included in the 20 new entries to All-Time 100 greatest films by Time magazine.


Raghunath is a wealthy district judge. He convicts Jagga, son of a criminal, of rape with thin evidence. He believes that "good people are born to good people, and criminals are born to criminals.". Jagga later escapes and kidnaps the judge's wife, Leela, for revenge. When he finds out that she has just become pregnant, he releases her after four days and plans a different kind of revenge. People suspect her of adultery and the judge throws her out of their house, rejecting her pleas that the child is his.

Leela gives birth to Raj on the streets and they live in poverty. Raj befriends Rita in school. He is removed from the school rolls while trying to maintain a job as a shoeshiner and Rita moves to another city. Jagga convinces Raj to steal, in order to save his starving mother. Raj grows up into a skilled criminal, going in and out of jail, and working for Jagga's gang. Leela thinks that he is a businessman. Raj never forgets Rita, keeping her birthday picture at his home.

For a bank robbery, Jagga asks Raj to steal an automobile. He snatches a woman's purse when she steps out of the car, but finds no keys. He pretends to pursue the thief in order to ward off any suspicion and returns the purse to the woman, who is charmed by his personality and apparent selflessness. Later, when Raj successfully steals a car, he hides from the police in a mansion where he meets the same woman. Seeing the same birthday picture, Raj realises that she is his school friend Rita. He tells Rita he's a thief but his figurative statements made her think he is a finance professional. Rita, now studying law, is a ward of the judge who is suspicious when he hears that Raj doesn't know who his father is. Raj and Rita fall in love. Worrying that Rita will not accept him due to his thievery, Raj starts working at a factory but is fired when the manager finds out that he was a thief.

Rita invites him to her birthday party. Raj goes back to Jagga for a loan so that he can buy a gift for her. Jagga mocks his attempts to reform and asks him to commit more crimes. Raj refuses but later steals a necklace from a man on the street, not knowing the man was the Judge. At Rita's birthday, when Raj gives her a necklace without a case and the Judge gives her a case without a necklace, she realises that Raj is indeed a thief. Rita goes to Raj's mother and learns his life story. She decides that Raj is not bad, but was forced into committing crimes by bad influence and the desperation of living in poverty. Raj is ashamed, still believing he is no good for her, but she forgives him.

Raj goes to the Judge to ask if he can marry Rita, but the Judge turns him away. Meanwhile, Jagga and the gang commit the bank robbery, but it goes wrong and they have to run from the police. Jagga hides in Raj's house, where Leela recognizes him and he attacks her. Raj enters and fights him off, killing Jagga in self-defense. Raj goes on trial for Jagga's death with Raghunath as the judge. When Leela goes to the courthouse to provide her eyewitness account, she sees Raghunath and chases after him but is struck by a car. Rita collects the testimony from Leela in the hospital, and later Raj is allowed to visit her. Leela tells Raj that the judge is his father and asks her son to forgive him. But Raj becomes angrier at the judge for making him and his mother suffer. He escapes from jail and tries to kill the judge for revenge, but is stopped by Rita. Rita defends Raj in the trial for assault, who reveals the father-son relationship. Raj chooses not to defend his actions and says that he is a bad man. He asks the court not to think of him, but the millions of other children who grow up in poverty and end up turning to crime because high society does not care about them. While he awaits his verdict, Raj is visited by Judge Raghunath, who finally accepts that Raj is his son and tearfully asks for forgiveness. In the end, Raj is spared execution but sentenced to three years in prison for his crime. He promises that after getting released, he will reform himself for Rita, who promises to wait for him.


Supporting cast
  • Rajoo, Mansaram, Rajan, Manek Kapoor, Paryag, Ravi, Vinni, Bali, Shinde.


The music for this film was composed by Shankar Jaikishan while the songs were written by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. The soundtrack was listed by Planet Bollywood as number 3 on their list of 100 Greatest Bollywood Soundtracks. The song Awaara Hoon was used in the Malayalam Film Vishnulokam directed by Kamal starring Mohanlal.[13] Awaara was the best-selling Bollywood soundtrack album of the 1950s.[14]

# Title Singer(s) Lyricist
1 "Ek Do Teen" Shamshad Begum Shailendra
2 "Awaara Hoon" Mukesh
3 "Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi" Lata Mangeshkar
4 "Dam Bhar Jo Udhar Munh Phere" Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh
5 "Tere Bina Aag Yeh Chandni" Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey
6 "Naiya Meri Manjhdhar" Mohammed Rafi
7 "Hum Tujhse Mohabbat Kar Ke" Mukesh Hasrat Jaipuri
8 "Ek Bewafa Se Pyar Kiya" Lata Mangeshkar
9 "Ab Raat Guzarne Wali Hai"
10 "Jab Se Balam Ghar Aaye"


The film is a collaboration of the famous team of director/producer Raj Kapoor and writer Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. Abbas originally wanted Mehboob Khan to direct the film, but the two disagreed over the casting. Khan wanted Ashok Kumar to play the judge and Dilip Kumar the son. In the event, Abbas withdrew his script from Mehboob Studios and Raj Kapoor decided to direct it.[15] This film was filmed in RK Studio and Bombay.

In his column for the Indian Express, Kapoor wrote, "In Awara I tried to prove that Vagabonds are not born, but are created in the slums of our modern cities, in the midst of dire poverty and evil environment."[16]

Critical reception[edit]

It was entered in the 1953 Cannes Film Festival,[17] where it was nominated for the Grand Prize of the Festival (Palme d'Or).[10] In 1955, it was voted the best film of the year by readers of Turkish daily Milliye.[18]

In 2003, Time magazine included it in a list of "10 Indian Films to Treasure".[19] Time magazine also chose Raj Kapoor's performance in Awaara as one of the top ten greatest performances of all time.[20] In 2005, Indiatimes Movies ranked the movie amongst the "Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films", writing: "Whenever Raj Kapoor and Nargis came together on screen, sparks flew. Their chemistry was electrifying and it crackles with raw passion in Raj Kapoor's Awaara. Nargis's wild and carefree sensuality pulsates and Raj Kapoor's scruffy hair-rebellious persona only adds fuel to the fire".[21] Time magazine included the film among the 20 new entries added to All-Time 100 greatest films in 2012.[22][23][24]

Box office[edit]

Worldwide gross (est.)
Territory Gross revenue Inflation-adjusted gross revenue (2016) Footfalls (ticket sales)
India 23 million[25] ($4.83 million)[n 2] $57 million (₹3.02 billion)[27] 30 million[28]
Turkey Un­known Un­known 100,000 (opening)[18][29]
Soviet Union 37.75 million руб – $16.97 million (₹80.8 million) $146 million (₹9.12 billion) 100 million[12]
Initial run (1954) 29 million Rbls[30] – $7.25 million[n 3] (₹34.5 million)[n 2] $82 million (₹4.37 billion)[27] 65 million[12]
Re-runs (1955–1966) 8.75 million Rbls[n 4]$9.72 million[n 5] (₹46.3 million)[33] $91 million (₹5.41 billion) 35 million[12]
China CN¥14.8 million – $8.86 million (₹72.2 million) $41 million (₹2.67 billion) 100 million[11]
Initial release (1955) CN¥2.8 million[34]$1.14 million[35] (₹54 lakh)[36] $13 million (₹963 million) 40 million[34]
Re-release (1978) CN¥12 million[11][37]$7.72 million (₹62.7 million)[36] $36 million (₹2.67 billion) 60 million[11][34]
Worldwide ₹156.1 million ($30.66 million) $232 million (₹14.81 billion) 230.1 million

In India, the film grossed a record of 2.1 crore in 1951,[25] making it the highest-grossing film in India up until that time.[38] This record was later beaten the next year by Mehboob Khan's Aan (1952), starring Dilip Kumar, which grossed ₹2.5 crore in 1952.[39]

In Turkey, Awaara released in 1955. The film sold 100,000 tickets in its first week of release in Turkey. The total number of box office admissions in Turkey is currently unknown.[18][29]

Soviet Union[edit]

In the Soviet Union, Awaara was released in 1954,[40] debuting at Indian film festivals in Moscow and Leningrad which drew about 1.5 million viewers in four days.[41] By the end of the year, it drew an audience of about 64 million viewers in its initial run, the highest for any film in the Soviet Union at the time, until its record was surpassed by Amphibian Man in 1962.[3] At the Soviet box office, Awaara remained the most-viewed Indian film, the third biggest foreign hit of all time,[42][43] and one of the top 20 biggest hits of all time.[3][42][44]

In terms of gross revenue, Awaara earned 29 million Rbls[30] ($7.25 million,[n 3] ₹34.5 million)[n 2] in its initial run, surpassing Aan to become the highest-grossing Indian film overseas at the time. Awaara's 29 million руб was eventually surpassed by Disco Dancer (1982),[8][45] which grossed 60 million руб in the Soviet Union.[45] Including re-runs, which were running for 10–12 years, Awaara's footfalls in the Soviet Union amounted to about 100 million box office admissions, which remains among the highest for an Indian film in an overseas market.[12]


The film was also a success in China, where it first released in 1955. In its opening week, the film sold 4 million tickets, including 1.43 million admissions earning a distribution rental income of about CN¥100,000 in Beijing alone.[34] Its 4 million opening-week ticket sales were equivalent to estimated opening-week rentals of approximately CN¥280,000[34] ($114,000).[35] Prior to its 1978 re-release, the film's initial run had sold a total of 40 million tickets in China.[34]

The film's 1978 re-release was a greater commercial success in China.[46][47] Following its re-release, the film went on to sell a total of more than 100 million tickets,[11] and was the second highest-grossing Indian film in China behind only Nasir Hussain's Caravan (1971).[34]


The song "Awaara Hoon" and actor Raj Kapoor were widely known across China and the Soviet Union. The film's success in both the Soviet Union and China has been attributed to the socialist themes expressed in the film.[1][4]

The film Awaara and the song "Awaara Hoon" are believed to have been among Chairman Mao's favourite films and songs, respectively.[4][20] Awaara was referenced in the 2000 Chinese film Platform.[48]

In 2023, Time Out ranked it #20 on its list of the "100 Best Bollywood Movies."[49]


Due to the film's remarkable success with Turkish audiences, Awaara was remade in Turkey a total of eight times. The first and most prominent Turkish film remake was Avare (1964) starring actor Sadri Alışık and actress Ajda Pekkan.[50][29][51]

There was also an Iranian film remake, called The Wheel of the Universe (1967). However, this version may have been a remake of the Turkish remake Avare, rather than a direct remake of the original Awaara.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hindi: आवारा, Urdu: آوارہ, romanizedĀvārā
  2. ^ a b c 4.7619 Indian rupees per US dollar from 1950 to 1965[26]
  3. ^ a b 4 Rbls per US$ from 1950 to 1960[31]
  4. ^ 35 million re-run admissions up until 1964-1966,[12] average Soviet ticket price of 25 kopecks in the mid-1960s[32]
  5. ^ 0.9 руб per US$ from 1961 to 1971[31]


  1. ^ a b c d Linda Badley; R. Barton Palmer; Steven Jay Schneider (2006), Traditions in world cinema, Rutgers University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8135-3874-7, To this day 'Awaara hoon' ('I'ma vagabond'), the title song of Raj Kapoor's Awaara ('The Vagabond', 1951) remains well known throughout Russia, which the director- star visited, and China, where both the song and film were said to be Chairman Mao's favourites
  2. ^ East and West in India's Development, page 43, MIT Center for International Studies, 1959
  3. ^ a b c Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War, page 44, Cornell University Press, 2011
  4. ^ a b c d Natasa Ďurovičová (31 August 2009), World cinemas, transnational perspectives, Taylor & Francis, 2010, ISBN 978-0-415-97653-4, hearing the hit theme song "Awaara Hoon" ("I am wayward") hummed on the streets of Nanjing. Then, traveling through a small town in a more remote part of China, Seth has to perform the song on request at a local gathering: 'No sooner have I begun than I find that the musicians have struck up the accompaniment behind me: they know the tune better than I do
  5. ^ Creekmur, Corey K. (2013). International Film Musical. Edinburgh University Press. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-7486-5430-7.
  6. ^ Sangita Gopal; Sujata Moorti (2008). Global Bollywood travels of Hindi song and dance ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-8166-4579-4. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  7. ^ a b c "Awaara 'most successful' film of all times". Gulf News. 1 October 2006. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Bollywood re-enters Russian homes via cable TV". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 27 September 2007. Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  9. ^ Rajinder, Dudrah; Jigna, Desai (1 October 2008). The Bollywood Reader. McGraw-Hill Education (UK). p. 65. ISBN 978-0-335-22212-4.
  10. ^ a b "Awards for Awaara (1951)". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on 11 January 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  11. ^ a b c d e "异域音乐风 ——印度音乐(三至六)". China Central Television. 4 July 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d e f "You Asked It - Padmaavat Is Bigger Than Mughal E Azam?". Box Office India. 8 March 2018.
  13. ^ "100 Greatest Bollywood Soundtracks Ever – Part 4". Planet Bollywood. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  14. ^ "Music Hits 1950-1959". Box Office India. 5 February 2010. Archived from the original on 5 February 2010.
  15. ^ Kabir, NM (ed). (2010). "The Road to Awaara" in The Dialogue of Awaara. pp. vi–xxiii. New Delhi: Niyogi Books.
  16. ^ "Why I Produced Boot Polish". The Indian Express. 2 April 1954. p. 3.
  17. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Awaarae". Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  18. ^ a b c Gurata, Ahmet (January 2010). "The Road to Vagrancy". BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies. 1 (1): 67–90. doi:10.1177/097492760900100108. hdl:11693/38297. S2CID 144112883.
  19. ^ "Best of Bollywood ..." Time. 27 October 2003. Archived from the original on 23 October 2003. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  20. ^ a b Micahernst (23 January 2012). "Great Performances: Raj Kapoor, Awaara". All-Time 100 Movies. Time. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  21. ^ Rachna Kanwar (3 October 2005). "25 Must See Bollywood Movies". India Times. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2008.
  22. ^ Corliss, Richard (17 May 2012). "Awaara". Time. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  23. ^ "Raj Kapoor's Awaara in Time's 100 greatest films list". The Hindustan Times. HT Media Limited. 28 May 2012. Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  24. ^ "Raj Kapoor's 'Awaara' in Time's 100 greatest films". Times of India. 28 May 2012. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  25. ^ a b "Box Office 1951". Box Office India. Archived from the original on 2 January 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  26. ^ "Pacific Exchange Rate Service" (PDF). UBC Sauder School of Business. University of British Columbia. p. 3. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  27. ^ a b "67.175856 INR per USD in 2016". Archived from the original on 13 July 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  28. ^ "Most Watched Bollywood (Hindi) Movies of All Time (1940-2019) - Movies with Highest Footfall Ever". Addatoday. 17 May 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  29. ^ a b c Raman, Sruthi Ganapathy (1 July 2017). "How Turkey simply could not get enough of Raj Kapoor's 'Awara'". Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  30. ^ a b Rajagopalan, Sudha (2005). Indian Films in Soviet Cinemas: The Culture of Movie-going After Stalin. Indiana University Press. p. 86. ISBN 9780253220998. The purchase of Shree 420 (Mr 420/Gospodin 420) followed a letter from a Soveksportfil'm representative in Bombay to officials in Moscow in which the former wrote: We are in a delicate situation with Raj Kapoor. He feels he is not being offered enough for Mr 420 despite the fact that 'The Vagabond' raised 29 million roubles for the Soviet state.
  31. ^ a b "Archive". Central Bank of Russia. Archived from the original on 29 December 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
  32. ^ Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War, page 48, Cornell University Press, 2011
  33. ^ "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. 1965. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g "《流浪者》《大篷车》中国内地票房". Sina Corp. 9 February 2019. Archived from the original on 17 January 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  35. ^ a b Suzuki, Takamoto (2016). "The Renminbi Exchange Rate Reform and Its Implications for Asian Markets". China Quarterly of International Strategic Studies. 2 (4): 485–506 (486). doi:10.1142/S2377740016500317.
  36. ^ a b "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  37. ^ Link, Perry (2000). The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System. Princeton University Press. p. 204. ISBN 9780691001982.
  38. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  40. ^ Bollywood affair: how Indian cinema arrived in the USSR, The Calvert Journal, Calvert 22 Foundation, August 2015
  41. ^ Rajagopalan, Sudha (2008). Indian Films in Soviet Cinemas : the culture of movie-going after Stalin. Indiana University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0253220998. According to newspaper reports, in the first four days of the festival almost a million viewers attended the shows. In Leningrad, more than half a million viewers attended the first four days of the festival.
  42. ^ a b Sergey Kudryavtsev. "Зарубежные фильмы в советском кинопрокате".
  43. ^ Natalia Fedotova, All time favourite Hindi movies in Russia, Russia Beyond the Headlines, 4 January 2017
  44. ^ Sergey Kudryavtsev. "Отечественные фильмы в советском кинопрокате".
  45. ^ a b Naralenkova, Oxana (10 September 2009). "Bollywood returns to Russian screens". Russia Beyond. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  46. ^ Wan, Zhang (5 July 2017). "How do Indian films gain recognition in China?". China Plus. China Radio International. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  47. ^ "中方参投《神秘巨星》票房破亿,印度电影成下一个淘金地?". Huxiu. 21 January 2018.
  48. ^ Durovicová, Natasa (2008). World cinemas, transnational perspectives (1st ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-415-97654-1. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  49. ^ "The 100 best Bollywood movies". Time Out. 7 February 2023. Retrieved 28 November 2023.
  50. ^ "Avare (1964)". IMDB. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  51. ^ "Sadri Alışık – Avare (1964)". 21 August 2021.
  52. ^ Partovi, Pedram (2017). Popular Iranian Cinema before the Revolution: Family and Nation in Fīlmfārsī. Taylor & Francis. p. 193. ISBN 978-1-315-38561-7.


External links[edit]

  • Awaara at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  • Full movie on YouTube
  • Classics Revisited: Awaara
  • Movie review at "Let's talk about Bollywood!"
  • University of Iowa article