Raj Kapoor, the greatest showman in the history of Indian cinema

Did you know, veteran actor Raj Kapoor's performance in ‘Awaara’ was ranked as one of the top ten greatest performances of all time by Time Magazine? Not just that, but the actor gave iconic performances in ‘Chori Chori’, ‘Shree 420’, ’ Andaz’, ‘Mera Naam Joker’, and several others.

Born as Shrishti Nath Kapoor, actor, director, producer, Raj Kapoor is widely considered the 'greatest showman in the history of Indian cinema'. He was born on June 2, 1924, in Peshawar, British India. He ventured from one movie to another and in each, left a mark of his own.

Raj Kapoor started his career with the 1935 movie, 'Inquilab' at the mere age of 11. However, his major break came in the Madhubala starrer 1947 movie 'Neel Kamal'. But, his first major success came with 'Andaz', a movie that set him as an actor of caliber.

What made him a showman was his ability to grab the attention of the audience on the big screen. Be it, the role of a young thief in 'Awaara' or a romantic lover in 'Chori Chori', Kapoor managed to win hearts with his simple yet powerful acting. It was in his eyes, that made every role speak.

Kapoor did not just stick to acting though. He graced all with his talent in producing and directing films. At 24, he established his studio, 'RK Films' which after a fire was sold in 2017.

With 'Aag' starring himself and Nargis, Kapoor became the youngest film director of his time. 'Barsaat', 'Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai', 'Jagte Raho' and 'Bobby' set him as director and producer. On the other hand, the role of an innocent bullock cart driver in 'Teesri Kasam', the emotions of a clown in 'Mera Naam Joker', even though the movie failed to impress the audience at first, screamed his potential as an actor.

While 'Shree 420' popularised him as the 'Charlie Chaplin of Indian cinema', songs in his films also grabbed attention. It spoke of his strong understanding of music and art.

Kapoor's contribution established him as the greatest showman in the history of Indian Cinema and an inspiration for many to come in the future.

"I look up to Raj Kapoor, he was versatile, excellence at his craft, his filmmaking skill, and the fact that he will always be around to teach us all, is great for Indian cinema," says Nafis Mustafa, a budding and aspiring short-film director.

The actor was not only honored in his land, but also outside of India. Kapoor received three National Awards and 11 Filmfare. In his honor, Filmfare also introduced the 'Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award'.

In 1971, the Government of India awarded 'Padma Bhushan' to Kapoor and in 1987, the honorable Dadasaheb Phalke award for his contribution to arts and cinema. It also produced a documentary on the actor in 1987, released a postage stamp in 2001.

Outside India, Kapoor was nominated twice for the Palme d'Or grand prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for 'Awaara' (1951) and 'Boot Polish' (1954).

Raj Kapoor not only carried the legacy of Prithviraj Kapoor but also left behind a legacy of his own, that continues to this day. After Kapoor, several others from his family followed his suit and entered the Indian film industry. From Rishi to Kareena and Ranbir Kapoor, the contribution of the Kapoor family has been immeasurable in the industry.

Raj Kapoor gave several hits and worked in more than 40 films. He opened the industry to the idea of teen romance, movies that focused on female protagonists in ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram, ‘Prem Rog’ etc, and touched subjects that remained unexplored.

He was loved by audiences and film critics both and enjoyed a global fan base in parts of Asia, Russia, the Middle East, and Africa. He also kick-started the career of many, including Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Hasrat Jaipuri, and more.

Kapoor was hospitalized and treated at AIIMS for over a month but passed away at the age of 63. Raj Kapoor breathed his last in 1988 after suffering complications related to asthma. His memorial lays at their family farm in Pune.

Raj Kapoor was born in Peshawar, presently in Pakistan. The Pakistan government has approved the conversation of his ancestral home, 'Kapoor Haveli' into a museum. He was born in this house.