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Raj Kapur, actor, director and producer of Indian Cinema

(1924-1988)

An Indian walking the streets in Beijing or Moscow today would be surprised to hear strains of the famous Hindi film song "awaara huum…" from the Raj Kapur- film of 1952. It was sung by Raj Kapur, playing the role of a tramp, and both the song and the actor became an instant hit not just in India, but even in countries like China and (the then) U.S.S.R. This film marked the beginning of a new wave of the representation of the poor and the hapless in Indian cinema. And none other than Mao Tse Tung certified Awaara as the film that attracted him most. No wonder, Raj Kapur became one of the most successful film producers, directors and heroes (actors) of India of the second half of the 20th century.

A winner of one of India's highest civilian awards, the Padmabhushan (1976), and the highest film honour in India, the Falke Award (1988), and the coveted soviet Land Nehru Award (1981), Raj Kapur's  first directorial venture was 'aag' (Hindi – 1948). 'Nil Kamal' (Blue Lotus -1947) was the first film in which he had the hero's role, though he had acted earlier in minor roles in some insignificant films, and his first appearance in a film was as Narada in 'Valmiki'. Soon after 'aag' appeared hit films like Barsaat, and Awaara, and then Sree 420 (1955), Anaadi (1959), Jis Desh Mem Ganga Bahti hai (1961), Mera Naam Joker (1970) – all remarkable films. His film Jagte Raho bagged the prestigious Grand Prix in 1959, making him the first Indian to win this award. Indian awards came to him in quick succession, and he served as a member in the jury for significant film festivals in Berlin ((1966) and Moscow (1969).

One of the most important film makers of India of his times, Ranbir Raj Kapur was born in Peshavar, now in Pakistan,  in 1924, as the eldest son of Prithvi Raj Kapur, a doyen of both the theatre and films and his brothers and their kids were all successful film personalities. He passed away in 1988.