Home >Mint-lounge >Features >Remembering Raj Kapoor, 28 years after his death
Raj Kapoor built a massive fan following in India and abroad with his skillful portrayals of the ‘aam aadmi’. Photo: HT City
Raj Kapoor built a massive fan following in India and abroad with his skillful portrayals of the ‘aam aadmi’. Photo: HT City

Remembering Raj Kapoor, 28 years after his death

The great showman of Indian Cinema continues to be a colossus even three decades after his death

There are actors and there are good actors. Then there are showmen. Raj Kapoor is widely regarded as the greatest showman of Hindi cinema.

Kapoor was born in Peshawar in 1924 to Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Devi. He started acting when he was 10. But his first big break as a lead actor came in Neel Kamal (1947). He established his own studio, RK Films, the following year and made his directorial debut with Aag. Over the next few decades, Kapoor built a massive fan following in India and abroad with his skillful portrayals of the aam aadmi.

Kapoor’s on-screen chemistry with Nargis was remarkable and the duo featured together in more than a dozen movies, many of them Kapoor’s own production.

He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1971 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1987. He has also won multiple National awards. He was nominated for the Palme d’Or grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival twice for his films Awaara (1951) and Boot Polish (1954).

We leave you with some of the most iconic songs from Kapoor’s films.

‘Jeena yahan marna yahan’ (‘Mera Naam Joker’, 1970)

This song appears in the last part of the movie, a triptych that follows the life of a circus performer through his adolescent, adulthood and middle years, depicting his love for the stage.

‘Kisi Ki muskurahaton pe ho nisar’ (‘Anari’, 1959)

A very popular song of the era, it’s an optimistic take on life’s true meaning and how it should be lived.

‘Pyar hua iqrar hua’ (‘Shree 420’, 1955)

Shree 420 was the highest-grossing film of 1955 and this song, sung by Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar, is one of the most popular romantic songs in Bollywood. It also features Kapoor’s three children in one shot.

‘Mera joota hai japani’ (‘Shree 420’, 1955)

Sung by Mukesh, this song became a patriotic symbol for a newly independent India.

‘Awara hoon’ (‘Awara’, 1951)

Voted the second-greatest Bollywood song in a BBC poll in 2013, this song is hugely popular even today in China, the Soviet Union and the Middle East.

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