Raj Kapoor
Raj Kapoor in Shree 420 Kapoor[1]
Born(1924-12-14)14 December 1924
Died2 June 1988(1988-06-02) (aged 63)
Other namesThe First Showman of Bollywood, The Greatest Show Man of Indian Cinema, Charlie Chaplin of Indian Cinema, Raj Sahab[a]
Years active1935–1988
OrganizationR. K. Studio
WorksFull list
Krishna Malhotra
(m. 1946)
Children5, including Randhir, Ritu, Rishi, and Rajiv[2]
FamilyKapoor family
AwardsFull list
Raj Kapoor signature.svg

Raj Kapoor (pronounced [raːdʒ kəˈpuːɾ]; born Shrishti Nath Kapoor;[1] 14 December 1924 – 2 June 1988), also known as Ranbir Raj Kapoor,[3] was an Indian actor, film director and producer, who worked in Hindi cinema.[4] He is considered one of the greatest and most influential actors and filmmakers in the history of Indian cinema,[5] and has been referred to as The Greatest Showman of Indian Cinema[6] and as the Charlie Chaplin of Indian Cinema.[7][8][9][10]

Born in Peshawar as the eldest son of Prithviraj Kapoor of the Kapoor family, Raj Kapoor starred in and produced many films for which he received multiple accolades, including three National Film Awards and 11 Filmfare Awards in India. He was inspired by Charlie Chaplin and played characters based on The Tramp in films such as Awaara (1951) and Shree 420 (1955).[11][12] His performance in Awaara was ranked as one of the "Top-Ten Greatest Performances of All Time in World Cinema" by Time magazine in 2005;[13] both that and his other produced films Awara (1951) Boot Polish (1954) competed for the Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951 and 1955's editions respectively.[A][15]

His films were global commercial successes in parts of Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Africa and the Soviet bloc.[16] The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1971 for his contributions to the arts.[17] India's highest award in cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, was bestowed to him in 1987 by the Government of India.

Early life and background

Raj Kapoor was born as Shrishti Nath Kapoor on 14 December 1924 at Kapoor Haveli, a large house then owned by his grandfather in the Qissa Khwani Bazaar neighborhood of Peshawar, British India into a Punjabi Hindu family[18] of the Kapoor clan, who belonged to the Dhai Ghar Khatri community. His parents were Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Devi Kapoor (née Mehra). The Kapoor family hailed originally from Samundri, Samundri Tehsil, Lyallpur District, Punjab Province, British India.[19] He was the eldest of six children in the family.[20][21] He was the grandson of Dewan Basheshwarnath Kapoor, great-grandson of Dewan Keshavmal Kapoor, and great-great-grandson of Dewan Murli Mal Kapoor, and was part of the famous Kapoor family. His brothers were the late actors Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor. He also had a sister named Urmila Sial. Two other siblings died in infancy. Kapoor's family later on moved from Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province to Bombay, Bombay Presidency for residence and for education. He is the nephew of actor Trilok Kapoor, who is the younger brother of his father Prithviraj Kapoor. His first cousin was actor Subbiraj who was his father's sister's son. His father's cousin was film producer Surinder Kapoor, whose children are producer Boney Kapoor and actors Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor.[22] His father's maternal first cousins were actors Kamal Kapoor, Ravindra Kapoor, and Nandkishore Kapoor. Kamal Kapoor's grandson is filmmaker Goldie Behl. His maternal first cousin, Juggal Kishore Mehra, was a singer, whose step-granddaughter, Salma Agha, later became an actress and singer.

As Prithviraj moved from city to city early in his career during the 1930s, the family had to move too. Raj Kapoor attended several different schools like Colonel Brown Cambridge School in Dehradun, St Xavier's Collegiate School in Calcutta[23] and Campion School in Bombay.[24]


Debut and struggle (1947–1948)

At the age of ten, Raj Kapoor appeared in a Hindi film for the first time, in 1935 film Inquilab.[25]

His big break came with the lead role in 1947 with Kidar Sharma's romantic drama Neel Kamal opposite Begum Para and Madhubala.[26] The film proved to be a semi-hit at the box office, but his other releases, such as Jail Yatra, Dil Ki Rani and Chittor Vijay didnt do well.[27]

In 1948, he founded his own banner R. K. Films and made his directional debut with the musical drama Aag in which he starred alongside Nargis, Premnath and Kamini Kaushal.[28][29] The film was not a huge commercial success, but received positive reviews from critics.[30]

Stardom (1949-1964)

The year 1949 changed the direction of Kapoor's career and saw him becoming a big star who's gonna rule the upcoming decade.[31]

His first release of the year Sunehre Din flopped, but the next one Parivartan did reasonable business and emerged a semi-hit while his third release Mehboob Khan's romantic drama Andaz which also had Dilip Kumar and Nargis went on to become a blockbuster at the box office. The mega success of Andaz was followed by Barsaat which he also directed and produced.[32] The film went ahead of the former and emerged a huge blockbuster as well as the highest grossing film of all time breaking the record of Ashok Kumar starrer Kismet.[33]

Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru

The huge success of Andaz and Barsaat made Kapoor one of the leading male stars of the time alongwith Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand.[34] The following year, he solidified his star-status with hits in Sargam and Dastan opposite Rehana and the then top actress Suraiya, respectively.[35]

Kapoor had only one release in 1951 which was his own directional, the crime drama Awaara co-starring Prithviraj Kapoor and Nargis.[36] The film opened to highly positive response from critics as well as the audience and proved to be another mega blockbuster for the actor.[37] Its soundtrack composed by Shankar–Jaikishan was the best selling Bollywood music album of the 1950s and became hugely popular in foreign markets as well, especially the South Asian nations like Soviet Union, China, Turkey and Afghanistan.[38][39] Awaara also earned Kapoor a massive fan-following in Soviet Union where the film had approximately 100 million admissions and remains the third-most watched foreign film in the country.[40] In 1952, he reunited with Nargis for psychological drama Anhonee and crime noir Bewafa.[41][42] Anhonee did extremely well at the box office and emerged a superhit. On the other hand, Bewafa which also had Ashok Kumar in the lead could only manage average profits.[43]

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 a notable supporting role alongside Rajesh Khanna in Naukri (1978) and as the titular character alongside Sanjay Khan in Abdullah (1980). He played a detective in two comedy films: Do Jasoos (1975) and Gopichand Jasoos (1982), both directed by Naresh Kumar (brother of Rajendra Kumar). In 1979 he was a member of the jury at the 11th Moscow International Film Festival.[44] Raj Kapoor's last major film appearance was in Vakil Babu (1982) where he appeared with his younger brother Shashi. A film he had shot and completed in 1982 titled Chor Mandali in which he appeared opposite fellow veteran actor Ashok Kumar remained unreleased due to a legal dispute.[45] 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.

Personal life

On 12 May 1946, Raj Kapoor married Krishna Malhotra. Krishna was one of nine siblings, and following her marriage, many of them joined the Hindi film industry. Her brothers, Rajendra Nath, Prem Nath and Narendra Nath, later became actors, and her sister Uma is married to actor Prem Chopra.[46]

Kapoor with his wife Krishna

Raj and Krishna Kapoor had five children: three sons, actors Randhir Kapoor (1947–), Rishi Kapoor (1952–2020) and Rajiv Kapoor (1962–2021), and two daughters, Ritu Nanda (1949–2020) and Rima Jain (1955–). Randhir is married to former actress Babita and is the father of actresses Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. Rishi's widow is actress Neetu Singh and their two children are daughter Riddhima Kapoor, and son, actor Ranbir Kapoor. Raj Kapoor's elder daughter, Ritu Nanda, was married to industrialist Rajan Nanda (scion of the family which promoted and controls the Escorts group), and they had two children: daughter Nitasha Nanda and son, Nikhil Nanda, married to Shweta, daughter of actors Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan. Raj Kapoor's younger daughter, Rima Jain, is married to investment banker Manoj Jain and is the mother of Armaan Jain and Aadar Jain.

Both of Kapoor's brothers, all three of Kapoor's sons, two of Kapoor's daughters-in-law, three of Kapoor's grandchildren and a great-grandson are all actors in the Hindi film industry. His granddaughters Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor (daughters of Kapoor's eldest son Randhir), and grandson Ranbir Kapoor (son of Kapoor's second son Rishi) are the latest Bollywood superstars from the Kapoor family, while another of his grandsons, Nikhil Nanda (Kapoor's daughter Ritu's son), is a noted industrialist. Nikhil's son, Agastya Nanda, made his acting debut with The Archies in 2023.[47]

Kapoor had a longtime romantic relationship with renowned actress Nargis Dutt during the 1940s and 1950s, despite being a married man, although neither ever publicly admitted to this.[48] The couple starred in several films together, including Awaara and Shree 420. As Raj would not leave his wife and children, Nargis ended their relationship after Chori Chori and married Sunil Dutt with whom she fell in love on the set of Mother India (1957). In 2017, his second son Rishi confirmed his father's affair in his autobiography Khullam Khulla.[49][50][51]

Krishna Raj Kapoor died on 1 October 2018. Rajan Nanda, husband of Ritu Nanda, died on 5 August 2018. In January 2020, Ritu Nanda herself died. She was followed three months later by her younger brother Rishi, Kapoor's second son, who died in April 2020. Kapoor's third and youngest son, Rajiv, died in February 2021.[52][53][54]

Kapoor (far right) with Prime Minister Nehru (second from left) and fellow actors Dilip Kumar (far left) and Dev Anand (second from right) (c. 1950s).

Dilip Kumar, Mukesh, Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri, Dev Anand, Pran, Rajendra Kumar, Manna Dey, Shankar Jaikishan, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Rajesh Khanna were among Kapoor's closest friends from the movie industry.


Main article: Raj Kapoor filmography



Raj Kapoor suffered from asthma in his later years; he died of complications related to the disease in 1988 at the age of 63. He collapsed at the event where he was to receive the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in New Delhi, and was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi for treatment. He was hospitalised for about a month before he succumbed to complications arising from his asthma.[55] At the time of his death, he was working on the movie Henna (an Indo-Pakistan based love story). The film was later completed by his sons Randhir Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor and was released in 1991.

Memorial at family farm in Pune

His and his parents' Samadhi (memorial) is at their family farm "Rajbaugh", which means the "gardens of king". Located inside the MIT Art Design and Technology University (MIT ADTU), Rajbaugh lies on the banks of Mula-Mutha River in Loni Kalbhor village 30 km east of Pune in Maharashtra. The Kapoor family sold part of 125 acres Rajbaugh to MIT ADTU which built a memorial for the Kapoor family on its campus. The memorial was unveiled in 2014 in the presence of Lata Mangeshkar and Kapoor clan. The Kapoor family memorial has 7 pagodas showing elements of Raj Kapoor's movies, a museum or viewing gallery which showcases family photographs and moments from his movie making from 1945 to 1990. Raj Kapoor shot many of his films at this farm, including Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby, and Prem Rog. The family bungalow inside the farm has been preserved; the popular song "Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Band Ho" was shot inside this bungalow.[56][57][58][59][60]

Raj Kapoor alongside a delegation of writers from Soviet Uzbekistan (Samig Abdukakhkhar etc.), 1950s, India

Artistry and legacy

Raj Kapoor is often referred as The Greatest Showman of Indian Cinema in the Indian media.[61][62][63] Film historians and movie buffs speak of him as the "Charlie Chaplin of Indian cinema", since he often portrayed a tramp-like figure, who, despite adversity, was still cheerful and honest. His movies were popular in large parts of South/Central/Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union/Bloc, China, the Middle East, and Africa; his movies were global commercial successes.

Siddharth Kak made Raj Kapoor, a feature film documentary on the actor in 1987 which was produced by the Government of India's Films Division.[64]

A postage stamp, bearing his face, was released by India Post to honour him on 14 December 2001. To honour him, a brass statue of his was unveiled at Walk of the Stars at Bandra Bandstand in Mumbai in March 2012.

Raj Kapoor 2001 stamp of India
Kapoor's statue at Walk of the Stars

Many of Raj Kapoor's movies had a patriotic theme. His films Aag, Shree 420 and Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (In the country where the Ganges flows) celebrated the newly independent India, and encouraged film-goers to be patriots. Raj Kapoor commissioned these famous lyrics for Mera Joota Hai Japani, a song from the movie Shree 420:

Mera joota hai Japani (My shoes are Japanese)
Ye patloon Inglistani (These trousers are English)
Sar pe lal topi Roosi (The red cap on my head is Russian)
Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani (But still, however, my heart is Indian)

The song is still extremely popular and has been featured in a number of movies since Shree 420 was released. Indian author Mahasweta Devi stopped the show with her inaugural speech at the 2006 Frankfurt Book Fair when she used these lyrics to express her own heartfelt patriotism and debt to her country.

Kapoor appeared in Box Office India's "Top Actors" list twelve times, (1949-1960).[34]

In 2014, Google commemorated his 90th birthday.[65]

Raj Kapoor was a canny judge of filmi music and lyrics. Many of the songs he commissioned are evergreen hits. He introduced the music directors Shankar–Jaikishan and the lyricists Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra. He is also remembered for his strong sense of visual style. He used striking visual compositions, elaborate sets, and dramatic lighting to complete the mood set by the music. He introduced the actresses Nimmi, Dimple Kapadia, and Mandakini, as well as launching and reviving the careers of his sons Rishi, Randhir and Rajiv. Famous for making his actresses reveal the body, not very common then in Indian cinema, it was said his 'show-womanship' matched his showmanship.[66]

Raj Kapoor's Shree 420 (1955) movie's Hindi song Mera Joota Hai Japani ("My Shoes are Japanese") was used in opening sequence of 20th Century Studios 2016 movie Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds.[67]

The 1967 "Song about Yogis" (Russian: Песенка про йогов) by Vladimir Vysotsky mentions Raj Kapoor as one of the three best-known symbols of Indian culture in the Soviet Union, along with Shiva and yoga.[68]

He was called "the Clark Gable of the Indian film industry".[69]

In 2022, he was placed in Outlook India's "75 Best Bollywood Actors" list.[70]

Awards and honors

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Raj Kapoor

Kapoor had received many awards throughout his career, including 3 National Film Awards, 11 Filmfare Awards and 21 nominations. His films Awaara (1951) and Boot Polish (1954) were nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. His acting in the former was rated as one of the "Top Ten Performances of All Time in World Cinema" by Time magazine.[13] His film Jagte Raho (1956) also won the Crystal Globe award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1971 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1987 – the highest award for cinematic excellence in India. In 2001, he was honoured with "Best Director of the Millennium" by Stardust Awards. He was named "Showman of the Millennium" by Star Screen Awards in 2002.

In June 2011, Noah Cowan, artistic director of TIFF Bell Lightbox, and Sabbas Joseph, Director, Wizcraft along with members of the Kapoor family came together to pay tribute to the life and work of Indian actor, director, mogul and legend Raj Kapoor, as presented in partnership by TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA), and the Government of Ontario.[71] In 2011, it was announced that Kapoor will be inducted into the Brampton Walk of Fame in Ontario, Canada.[72]

Major associations

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas was a screenwriter and director for a number of Raj Kapoor's best films.[73]


Shankar–Jaikishan were Raj Kapoor's music directors of choice. He worked with them in 20 films in all including 10 of his own films from Barsaat until Kal Aaj Aur Kal. (Jagte Raho with Salil Chowdhury and Ab Dilli Dur Nahin being two exceptions in this period). Only after Jaikishan died, did he turn to a different music director – Laxmikant–Pyarelal for Bobby, Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Prem Rog (later on, his children used Laxmikant-Pyarelal for Prem Granth as well), Rahul Dev Burman for Dharam Karam, and Ravindra Jain for (Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Henna). Raj Kapoor acted in a movie with music by Madan Mohan only once (twice), i.e. Dhoon (1953) & Ashiana (1952), which featured duet Hum Pyaar Karenge by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, the only instance of Hemant Kumar giving playback to Raj Kapoor, and did only one movie with O. P. Nayyar (Do Ustad).

List of films with Shankar–Jaikishan: (18 Films)


Raj Kapoor and Nargis worked together in 16 films including 6 of his own productions.

Mukesh and Manna Dey

Mukesh was Raj Kapoor's almost exclusive singing voice in almost all of his films. Also, when Mukesh died, Raj had said, Main ne apni aawaaz ko kho diya... (I have lost my voice...). However Manna Dey has also sung many notable and super-hit songs for Raj Kapoor, for instance in Shree 420 and Chori Chori. Examples of such Manna songs are best illustrated by the following list:

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Palme d'Or prize is highest prize in Cannes Film Festival[14]
  1. ^ Only 'Raj Sahab' was referred by people in real life, other names was given by media, "Sahab" means master.


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