Raj Kapoor represented the golden age of Hindi cinema along with Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar. Raj Kapoor’s movies continue to entertain and inspire even today. On the birthday of ‘The Greatest Showman of Hindi Cinema’, we look back at his legacy and his contribution to the Hindi film industry.
Raj Kapoor made his acting debut in Inquilab (1935) as a 10-year-old. An experience so enriching, that Raj Kapoor made up his mind to pursue acting as a career. Under the watchful eye of his father Prithviraj Kapoor, he learned the tricks of the trade rather quickly
His big break came in 1947 with Neel Kamal opposite Madhubala when he was just 23. Raj Kapoor had loads of spunk and confidence, and so much so that he set up RK Films within a year. He became the youngest director of his time at 24 with his directorial debut, Aag, in which he acted as well
While Aag failed, Raj Kapoor went on to churn out several hits such as Andaz, Barsaat, Awaara, Shree 420, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, etc. His legacy also endures in the form of his songs which continue to be popular even today
Awaara hoon from the 1951 classic, Awaara, became an international rage. A BBC poll conducted in May 2013 rated it as the second-greatest Bollywood song of all time. Its popularity led to the creation of localised versions in the Soviet Union, China, and even Greece and Turkey
Any discussion on Raj Kapoor is incomplete without the mention of Mera Naam Joker. A much-hyped film, it took six years to make. Besides the Indian cast, several Soviet actors also played roles in the film. When the film finally released in 1970, the 226-minute long saga turned out to be a disaster. Luckily, the Soviets saw it differently and it became a blockbuster there. The movie is considered a classic today
Raj Kapoor created several acclaimed movies such as Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Bobby, Kal Aaj Aur Kal, Prem Rog and Ram Teri Ganga Maili. In the process, he also launched his sons – Randhir, Rishi and Rajeev Kapoor – the third generation of his family to don the grease paint
Raj Kapoor’s contribution to cinema has been well acknowledged. He was honoured with three national awards and 11 Filmfare Awards, among many others. He was also honoured with the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award, by the Government of India. The Indian Postal Services also issued a postage stamp in 2001. That’s not all. The Russian song ‘Song about yogis’ (1967) by Vladimir Vysotsky describes Raj Kapoor as one of the three best-known symbols of Indian culture along with Lord Shiva and Yoga
Raj Kapoor was conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award on May 2, 1988. The then President of India, R Venkataraman, broke protocol and came down the stage to present Raj Kapoor the award as his health had taken a hit. Following the award, Raj Kapoor was rushed to the hospital where he breathed his last on June 2, 1988.