Dipen Guhawrote on Aug 19 2009 10:47PM
The eldest son of Prithviraj and Ramsarani Kapoor, Raj Kapoor was born in Peshawar on December 14, 1924, to parents who were quite young. Prithviraj was eighteen and his wife was sixteen. Raj had such blue eyes and such white skin that often, while walking home from school, he would be mistaken for a white boy and taken away to a restaurant and fed by whites, while his darker brother, Shammi, would sit outside the restaurant watching his older brother gulp down the food. With father Prithviraj, pursuing a career on both the stage and the screen and constantly on the movie, the Kapoors led a nomadic life, and so Raj was in and out of schools in various parts of the country.
Raj Had acted as a child in the movies and was only eleven when he made his first film, "Inquilab"in 1935, where the stars were his father and Durga Khote. It was followed by a Debaki Bose film, "After the Earthquake". Prithviraj was worried about his son's career, who cut sorry figures in matriculation. But Raj told his father that he would learn from "the university of life". Raj Kapoor got a break in films with Kidar Sharma in 1947. Prthviraj wanted his son to start from the bottom. Accordingly, Raj was employed as a clapper-boy. However, Raj was cast in the film "Neel Kamal" which also introduced Madhubala. Three other films followed :"Vijay" "Dil Ki Rani" and "Jail Yatra". But all this was a prelude to what Raj wanted to do. In his own version, " The money I got from acting I saved and that is how I became a producer, director and an actor all in one, at the start of my career. My own company, R.K Films, was thus born in the year 1947". R.K. Films was set up with an office at Famous Studios, and Raj would produce, direct and act in his first film, "Aag"in 1948. Some critics have seen this film as a document that displayed the anger inside Raj Kapoor. This was followed by "Barsaat" in 1949. It proved a great hit, and brought together what may be called the "Raj Kapoor Film Clan" In the same year there came Mehboob Khan's "Andaz" in which Nargis was the female lead opposite Dilip Kumar and Raj.
Raj Kapoor was very much inspired by the famous Hollywood directors. His early films, Aag, Barsaat and Awara were very much influenced by Vittorio De Sica in "Miracle in Milan" and "Bicycle Thief". Raj was also impressed by Frank Capra, whose work, "It Happened One Night" and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington" were masterpieces. However, one man who towered over all for Kapoor, and who was his mentor for "Awara", and all his other films, was Charlie Chaplin. " Awara" was not only a hit in India, but a movie that travelled the world. Raj later said this film was his " little contribution to the USSR-India friendship". Then came "Shri 420" which Satyajit Ray considered his best. In 1955, there came up "Chori Chori"a remake of "It Happened One Night". With this Raj Kapoor's "eternal" amorous tie with Nargis came to an end. In 1956, their relationship could, for full and final, could be traced in "Jagte Raho". In 1964 there came up "Sangam"with Vyjantimala. The film was super hit. Radhu Karmakar, who was Kapoor's cameraman took his directorial debut with "Jis Desh Me Ganga Baheta Hai". In Basu Bhattachraya's direction Raj Kapoor acted in "Teesri Kasam". The dream project of Raj Kapoor was, of course, " Mera Nam Joker" in which he devoted his pelf, power, spirit and everything. Notwithstanding its massive star-cast, unique picturisation, mellifluous music, brilliant story-line the film proved a foil in the box-office. One can say off-hand, the film was a mirror of his own self. In 1973 Raj Kapoor made "Bobby" introducing his son Rishi Kapoor. The film brought about a trend of teen-age love. Satyam Sivam Sundaram, Prem Rog and Ram Teri Ganga Mailee were the subsequent films which brought dividend from the commercial point of view, but lacked the classicism of his "Salad Days". It is true that " gardish pe tare rahenge sada" but every star does not shine so dazzling as Raj Kapoor. In 1988 the brightest shooting star retired the firmament.