Making his directorial debut in 1948, Raj Kapoor was a young filmmaker addressing the collective feeling of uncertainty that wrapped the denizens of a newly independent India. Seamlessly weaving socialist messages into his mainstream sagas, Kapoor’s films explored the injustice and inequalities of the times through a generous dose of escapism. It was perhaps for this reason that his films struck a chord with people around the world who were coping with the ramifications of the second World War.
A tremendously successful actor, director, and producer, Kapoor skilfully juggled many hats. With RK Studios, he established a powerhouse filmmaking entity that created iconic works like Barsaat (1949), Awaara (1951), and Boot Polish (1954). Known for his flamboyance, he was also a simple romantic who always retained the innocence of his famous idealist on-screen persona—the Chaplinesque tramp, Raju. Kapoor continued to weave that innocence into his characters throughout his body of work in different ways. It is therefore of no surprise that everyone whole-heartedly believed it was him singing when in Anari he sang, “Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisar” (“Be someone who can give away everything, just to bring a smile to someone else”).
MUBI celebrates the quintessential showman of Hindi cinema, whose films remain an enduring symbol of the silver lining beyond the dark clouds.