Today, the 2nd of June, marks 33 years since the passing away of the one and only Showman of Bollywood, Raj Kapoor. The actor, director and producer by profession stands high in the list of unforgettable legends of Indian cinema.
His Early Days
Born on December 14, 1924 in Peshawar, Pakistan (then India), Raj Kapoor was the eldest son to another legendary actor Prithviraj Kapoor and his wife Ramsarni Devi Kapoor. He grew up with three other siblings when his family decided to move to Punjab. Raj’s dad worked as an actor at the theatre and as he grew up, Raj too accompanied his dad at work.
Life in Bollywood
At the tender age of 10, Raj Kapoor debuted in a film named ‘Inquilab’. Back in his early days in the 1930s, Raj worked as a clapper boy for the Bombay Talkies and an actor for Prithvi Theatres, both of which were owned by his father Prithviraj Kapoor. He got his big break when he starred in the movie ‘Neel Kamal’ alongside Madhubala in 1947.
His first project in the production business, ‘Aag’ was released in 1948. He had a major screen role and also played the role of producer and director for the film. In 1950, he founded his own film studio at Bombay, RK Films.
Raj shone as an actor in Bollywood with several hits such as Awara, Shri 420, Chori Chori, Jagte Raho, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai and many more. His role in ‘Mera Naam Joker’ is what did it all. His ultimate fame and remembrance still point back to this movie alone.
He achieved his first milestone as a successful producer from the film ’Barsaat’ in 1949.
Films like ‘Boot Polish’ and ‘Ab Dilli Door Nahin’ were some others among his successful production stories.
Back in his days of fame, Dilip Kumar, Devanand and himself stood as the leading men of the Golden Era of Bollywood.
The Padma Bhushan awardee was a recipient of 3 National awards and 11 Filmfare awards. He was also a two-time nominee for the Palme d’Or grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival. He was awarded a place among the top ten greatest performances of all time for the film ‘Awara’ by the TIME magazine. In 1987, he also went on to receive the highest award in cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
As unfortunate as it sounds, Raj Kapoor’s life came tumbling down on one of his happiest days. On the day of receiving the Dadasaheb Phalke award, Raj Kapoor collapsed on set due to complications in asthma. He was then admitted to AIIMS Delhi where he succumbed to the disease after a month of struggle. He passed away on the 2nd of June, 1988 at the age of 63.
He was working on the movie ‘Henna’ before his death which was then released by his sons Rishi Kapoor and Randhir Kapoor in 1991.
The legacy he left behind 33 years ago flourishes even today as the Kapoor family continues to contribute massively to Indian cinema.