Inderjeet S. Bhatia ‘Prince’
The first week of June 1988 saw the greatest showman ever known in the history of Indian cinema and entertainment, Raj Kapoor, succumbing to the complications arising from Asthma, sending shock waves not only in India but also in Japan, European countries and Asia alike known as Charlie Chaplin of Indian Cinema, Raj Kapoor’s memories still haunts the lover of Indian cinema.
Raj Kapoor, an actor, director and producer par excellence was born on Dec 14th, 1924 at Qissa Khwani Bazaar, Peshawar, now called as Khyber Pakhtunikhna, Pakistan. Raj Kapoor’s real name was Shrishti Nath Kapoor. Raj is widely considered as the greatest showman in the history of Indian cinema and entertainment. He received multiple accolades, including 3 National Film Awards and 11 Filmfare Awards in India The Filmfare Life Time Achievement Award is named after Raj Kapoor. He was a 2 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 performance of all time by TIME Magazine. His films attracted worldwide audiences particularly in Asia and Europe. Raj was honoured with Padma Bhushan by Govt of India in 1971 and the Dada Saheb Phalke award in 1987.
Raj was married to Krishna Malhotra in 1946 and was blessed with 5 children namely Randhir, Rishi, Rajiv, Ritu and Rima. Raj Kapoor appeared on the silver-screen at the tender age of ten. The film was ‘’Inquilab’’ (1935). Raj Kapoor’s big break came in 1947 when he played the lead role in “Neel Kamal’’ opposite Madhubala. In 1948, Raj Kapoor established his own studios called R K Films at the young age of 24 and hence became the youngest film director of his time making his directorial debut with “Aag’’ starring himself alongwith Nargis, Kamini Koushal and Prem Nath. In 1949 he co-starred alongside Dilip Kumar and Nargis in Mehboob Khan’s hit film “Andaz’’ which was his first major success as an actor.
In the same year, Raj Kapoor tasted success as an actor, producer and director when R K Films “Barsaat’’ was released.
Raj Kapoor went on to produce and act in several hit films under his R K banner that include “Awaara’’ (1951) “Aah’’ (1953) “Shree 420’’ (1955) “Jagte Raho’’ (1956) and “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hain’’ (1960). The last one was directed by Radhu Karmakar, his long time cinematographer. This film won Filmfare Award for the best film in the same year. Outside his home production, Raj acted in “Dastan’’ (1950) “Anhonee’’ (1952), “Chori-Chori’’ (1956), “Anari’’ (1959), “Do-Ustaad’’ (1959), “Chhalia’’ (1960) and “Dil Hi To Hai’’ (1963).
In 1964, Raj Kapoor produced mega-starrer hit films “Sangam’’ where Rejendra Kumar, Vijayantimala were his co-star. This was R K’s full film in colour and also his last major success as a leading actor. His later films like “Dulha Dulhan’’ (1964) “Around The World’’ (1966) and “Sapnon Ka Saudagar’’ (1968) with heroines much younger to him like Sadhna, Raj-Shree and Hema Malini were box-office flops.
In 1970, R K produced, directed and starred in his ambitious film “Mera Naam Joker’’. This film took six years to complete and unfortunately turned out to be a box office disaster.
In 1971, R K launched his eldest son Randhir Kapoor in the family drama, “Kal Aaz Aur Kal’’ starring himself, his son Randhir, his father Prithviraj Kapoor as well as Randhir’s to be wife Babita.
Raj Kapoor launched his 2nd son Rishi Kapoor’s career as the leading man in 1973 when he produced and directed “Bobby’’ which was a huge box-office success. Dimple Kapadia played female lead in “Bobby’’ which was based on a teenage love-story. Dimple wore Biknis which was quite unique and awesome for Indian films in those times. In 1975 Raj acted alongside his son Randhir in film ‘’Dharam Karam’’ which Randhir had directed.
In the later half of 1970 and early 80’s, R K produced and directed films that focused on the female protagonists like “Satyam Shivam Sundram’’ (1978) “Prem Rog’’ (1982), ‘Ram Teri Ganga Mailli) (1985).
Raj Kapoor played notable supporting roles alongside Rajesh Khanna in “Naukri’’ (1978), with Sanjay Khan in “Abdullah’’. R K played a detective in 2 comedy films “Do Jasoos’’ (1975) and “Gopi Chand Jasoos’’ (1982). “Chor-Mandali’’ was a Raj Kapoor- Ashok Kumar starrer film which was complete in 1982 but couldnot be released till date due to some legal-disputes. Raj Kapoor’s last screen appearance was a cameo for a British made for television film “Kim’’ (1984).
DEATH : Raj Kapoor suffered from Asthma in his later years. In May 1988, he was severally ill due to Asthma. Even then, Raj travelled to New Delhi to receive the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 1987, conferred on him by Govt of India.
Raj Kapoor collapsed at the event where he was to receive the said award and was taken to AIIMS New Delhi for treatment. He remained hospitalised there for about a month. Raj Kapoor succumbed to complications arising from Asthma on June 2, 1988 at the age of 63.
At the time of his death R K was working on the movie “Heena’’ – an Indo-Pakistan based love-story. The film was later completed by his sons Randhir and Rishi and was released in 1991.
Inderjeet S. Bhatia ‘Prince’