Raj Kapoor was an actor, producer, and director. He was someone who had a vision for cinema. Born to Ramsarni Devi and actor Prithviraj Kapoor in Peshawar, he belonged to the Kapoor family that has a long history in Hindi cinema and over the years has produced several actors and film directors. Raj Kapoor entered film industry when Indian cinema was still in its formative years. He was the winner of several accolades including 3 national film awards and 11 Filmfare Awards in India. The Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award is named after him. Though the films he produced were commercial in nature they always had a strong message for the audience. It is said that it took him six years to complete the film ‘Mera Naam Joker’ (1970) which he produced, directed and starred. For the film, he mortgaged everything he had, he spent millions but unfortunately when it came out in 1972 it was a catastrophic flop. Even though he lost everything he earned it back with his subsequent films. His films will always be treasured by the lovers of Hindi cinema and the title ‘The Greatest Showman of Indian Cinema’ is and will always be associated with Raj Kapoor.
On the occasion of his 30th death anniversary, we bring to you 10 interesting facts about ‘the Greatest Showman’ of Indian Cinema.
- Raj Kapoor’s real name is Ranbir Raj Kapoor. Raj is actually his middle name. His name is today shared by his grandson Ranbir Kapoor.
- Raj Kapoor made his debut on the Indian cinema in 1945 when he was just 10-years-old with the film ‘Inquilab’.
- In 1948, at the age of 24, he established his own studio – RK Films. The studio’s first venture ‘Aag’ (1948) was a commercial failure, ‘Barsaat’ (1949) was the first hit film produced by the studio. The company’s logo was inspired by a scene from the film ‘Barsaat’ where Raj Kapoor and Nargis are holding a violin.
- 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, Dilip Kumar, and Dev Anand are termed as the trilogy of the Indian cinema. The trio starred in a film by filmmaker Vijay Anand but it never got shelved due to dates and ego hassles.
- Remember the scene from ‘Bobby’ (1973) where Raj Nath (Rishi Kapoor) meets Bobby Braganza (Dimple Kapadia) in her house? It is said that the scene was picked from Raj Kapoor’s real-life meeting with Nargis.
- RK Studios ‘Mera Naam Joker’ was 244 minutes long and was so heavy on the subject that it had two intervals. It was the first movie to have two intervals.
- When Raj Kapoor was in the process of finalising the lead actress in his film ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ (1978), Zeenat Aman landed up at his office dressed up as a village girl. Not just that she even had the ‘burnt face’ makeup. He was so impressed with her dedication that he finalised her name for the lead role immediately.
- On May 2, 1988, Raj Kapoor was to be conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in Delhi. He was unwell and attended the function with an oxygen cylinder. After his name was announced he was unable to get up. Seeing his discomfort the then President Venkataraman came down to him to present him the award and asked to take him to the hospital in his ambulance. After a month of battling for life, Raj Kapoor passed away on June 2, 1988.
- At the time of his death, Raj Kapoor was working on the movie ‘Henna’ –an Indo-Pakistan love story. The film was completed by his sons Randhir and Rishi Kapoor and was released in 1991.