14 december, 1924
Raj Kapoor (14 December 1924 – 2 June 1988), also known as "The Show Man", was a noted Indian film actor, producer and director of Hindi cinema. He was the winner of two National Film Awards and nine Filmfare Awards in India, and a two-time nominee for the Palme d'Or grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his films Awaara (1951) and Boot Polish (1954). His performance in Awaara was ranked as one of the top ten greatest performances of all time by Time magazine. His films attracted worldwide audiences, particularly in Asia and Europe. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1971 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1987 for his contributions towards Indian cinema.
Raj Kapoor was born at Dhakki Munawwar Shah near Qissa Khwani in Peshawar, British India in a Hindu family to Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Devi Kapoor. He was the eldest of six children in the family. He was the grandson of Dewan Basheshwarnath Kapoor and great-grandson of Dewan Keshavmal Kapoor, part of the famous Kapoor family. Two of Raj's brothers are actors Shashi Kapoor (a.k.a. Balbir Raj Kapoor) and the late Shammi Kapoor (aka Shamsher Raj Kapoor); the other two died in infancy. He also had a sister named Urmila Sial.
Raj Kapoor attended Colonel Brown Cambridge School, Dehradun in the 1930s.
At the age of eleven, he appeared in films for the first time, in 1935's Inquilab. After acting in several films over the next 12 years, Raj Kapoor's big break came with the lead role in Neel Kamal (1947) opposite Madhubala in her first role as a leading lady. In 1948, at the age of twenty-four, he established his own studio, R. K. Films, and became the youngest film director of his time making his directorial debut with Aag starring himself, Nargis, Kamini Kaushal and Premnath. In 1949 he co-starred alongside Dilip Kumar and Nargis in Mehboob Khan's blockbuster Andaz which was his first major success as an actor.
He went on to produce and star in several hit films made under his RK banner including Barsaat (1949), Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Chori Chori (1956), Jagte Raho (1956) and Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960). These films established his screen image modeled on Charlie Chaplin's most famous screen persona of The Tramp. Outside of his home productions his other notable films included Anari (1959), Chhalia (1960) and Teesri Kasam (1966).
In 1964, he produced, directed and starred in the romantic musical Sangam alongside Rajendra Kumar and Vyjayantimala which was his first film in colour. This was his last major success as a leading actor as his later films like Around the World (1966) and Sapnon Ka Saudagar (1968) with younger starlets Rajshree and Hema Malini were box office flops. In 1965 he was a member of the jury at the 4th Moscow International Film Festival.
In 1970 he produced, directed and starred in his ambitious film Mera Naam Joker which took more than six years to complete. His son Rishi Kapoor made his debut in this film playing the younger version of his character. When released in 1970, it was a box office disaster and put Kapoor and his family into a financial crisis. In later years it was acknowledged as a classic.
In 1971, he launched his eldest son Randhir Kapoor in the family drama Kal Aaj Aur Kal starring himself, his son Randhir, his father Prithviraj Kapoor as well as Randhir's would-be-wife Babita. He launched his second son Rishi Kapoor's career in 1973 when he produced and directed Bobby which was a huge box office success and introduced actress Dimple Kapadia, later a very popular actress; it was the first of a new generation of teen romances. Dimple wore bikinis iwhich was quite unique for Indian films then. In 1975 he acted alongside his son Randhir again in Dharam Karam, which Randhir directed.
In the latter half of the 1970s and early 1980s he produced and directed films that focused on the female protagonists: Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) with Zeenat Aman, Prem Rog (1982) with Padmini Kolhapure and Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) which introduced Mandakini. He acted in fewer films by the late 1970s and early 1980s but played notable supporting roles alongside Rajesh Khanna in Naukri (1978) and alongside Sanjay Khan in Abdullah (1980). In 1979 he was a member of the jury at the 11th Moscow International Film Festival.
Raj Kapoor's last major film appearance was in Vakil Babu (1982) where he appeared with his younger brother Shashi. His last acting role was a cameo appearance in a 1984 released British made-for-television film titled Kim.
He was set to direct Henna starring his son Rishi and Pakistani actress Zeba Bakhtiar before his death in 1988. His son Randhir directed the film and it released in 1991.