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Raj Kapoor : The Quintessential Showman

Raj Kapoor : The Quintessential Showman

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.

AWAARA

Raj Kapoor India, 1951

Raj Kapoor’s watershed film belongs to the Golden Age of Hindi cinema, combining multiple genres and serving as a social critique of class in newly independent India. A milestone in introducing global audiences to Bollywood, the film also launched Kapoor’s illustrious Chaplinesque character.

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BOOT POLISH

Prakash Arora India, 1954

A story of hope in a cynical world, this emotional drama won the child actor Naaz a Special Jury mention at the Cannes Film Festival. Questioning human values through the struggle story of two siblings, Boot Polish is, at its core, a life-affirming film about the triumph of the human spirit.

BARSAAT

Raj Kapoor India, 1949

Often listed as one of Hindi cinema’s best soundtracks, Barsaat marks the grand debut of music-director duo Shankar-Jaikishan. A music-filled romance whose beauty lies in its poetic simplicity, this classic holds audiences captive with Nargis and Raj Kapoor’s scintillating chemistry.