Ranbir Raj Kapoor popularly known as Raj Kapoor entered the film industry as a child artist in 1935 with ‘Inquilab’ by Debaki Bose. Later he became a clapper-boy in the famous Bombay Talkies during the late 1930s. He also became an Assistant/Production Manager/Art Director at Prithvi Theatres. Finally, his big break as the main lead came, when Kidar Sharma cast him in his 1947 black and white feature film ‘Neel Kamal’ opposite Madhubala. Soon after he became the part of the Hindi cinema’s “holy trinity”; Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand which brought a new wave of revolution in the romantic drama genre of the Hindi Cinema.
To follow his ardour and zeal as a complete filmmaker, Kapoor formed his film production company in 1948, naming it after himself as R.K Films. In 1948, which Raj Kapoor debuted as a director and producer with the movie ‘Aag’. He also played the lead role of Kewal Khanna in the same film.
Raj Kapoor produced another movie in 1951 under the same banner, called ‘Awara’, known as ‘The Vagabond’ in the overseas where he played the lead as Raj Ragunath. The movie had an ensemble cast of Raj Kapoor’s father Prithviraj Kapoor, Nargis, Leela Chitnis and K.N. Singh. Though the film was an Indian crime drama, this film awarded Kapoor with great stardom as an innocent “little tramp” (character references Avant-Garde artist Charlie Chaplin). The film is a milestone in the history of Hindi cinema.
After its release, the film became an overnight sensation in South Asia and was widely gaining acknowledgement in the Soviet Union, East Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. A song from the film “Awara Hoon” (I’m the Vagabond) sung by Mukesh became hugely popular across the Indian subcontinent.
Other films of Raj Kapoor are ‘Barsaat’ (1949), ‘Shree 420’ (1955), ‘Jagte Raho’ (1956) to name a few.
‘Mera Naam Joker’ (1970), where Kapoor sketched the character of Ranbir Raj/Raju, is considered a cult classic and regarded as one of Raj Kapoor’s most excellent performances. The film story follows a clown who makes people laugh at the cost of his sorrow. There was a rumour at the time that the film had taken its inspiration from Kapoor’s own life.
Kapoor had a long run in the industry. His movies had a sense of sanguineness in them. Although, most of his characters in the films were fighting for their survival in an unjust world. That is why his movies were not just limited to just his countrymen, but they reached beyond and gave hope for the masses even in the war-ravaged Soviet Union.