Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor (December 14, 1924 - June 3, 1988) was a megastar, producer, director, actor and all-round showman. He permanently carved for himself a special niche in commercial Hindi cinema.

He was born Ranbir Raj Kapoor in a town called Samandru in Peshawar (now in Pakistan). His family left Peshawar and came to Bombay in 1929. The son of actor Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor started his career as a clapper boy assisiting for Kidar Sharma but bagged his first film role at the age of eleven. He got his first break as a hero in Neel Kamal, a 1947 film by Kidar Sharma. In 1948, at the age of 24, he became the youngest film director of his time when he set up his own studio (R.K. Films) and made his first feature film, Aag (Fire), which would become the first of his many early successes, including Barsaat (Rain) in 1949 and Shri 420 (Mr. 420), a reference to someone who has a reputation for theft and deception, (since apprehensions for such crimes are usually section 420 of the Indian Penal Code) in 1955. (See also: The Number 420.)

Raj Kapoor whole-heartedly embraced the Indian popular cinema from the very beginning. He made every effort to ensure that his movies appealed to every section of society, in particular the common man. Film historians and buffs have spoken of him as the "Charlie Chaplin of India," since he often himself played a tramp-like figure who, despite adversity, could still be cheerful and honest, a gem of a man. He appealed also, as in his films Aag and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hein (The Country in which the Ganges Flows), to patriotic sentiment, nowhere better commemmorated than in the famous lines from a song in Shri 420:

Mera joota hai Japani
Ye pataloon hai inglistani
Sar pe lal topi roosi
Pir bhi dil hai hindustani
My shoes are Japanese
And the trousers are English
The cap on my head is Russian
But my heart is Hindustani (Indian)

The songs of his films endeared Raj Kapoor not only to the masses in India, but to audiences in large parts of Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union, where his films were to become enormous commercial successes. Many of his films were to be characterized not only by lively music, but by the extensive use of elaborate sets. The angst of the common man is portrayed through heavy brooding landscapes and sets with sharply contrasted light. Visual imagery would always be an important part of his films.

However, after the box office failure of his ambitious Mera Naam Joker (My name is Joker), which took six years to complete, his movies took a more sensual turn. The film Bobby (1973) introduced Dimple Kapadia, who would go on to become one of India's superstars, and established itself as the fore-runner of a new generation of romances targeted for adolescents. But the film owed its phenomenal success to other considerations as well. By the restrictive if not puritan standards of commercial Hindi cinema, Kapadia appeared in suggestive, some would say rather sexually explicit, poses and scenes. Raj Kapoor kept up with this trend of titilating sexuality in later films like Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) and Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985).

Raj Kapoor married his aunt (his father's second cousin) Krishna in 1946 when he was 22 years old. His first son Randhir was born the following year in 1947. His first daughter Ritu was born the year following that in 1948. His second son Rishi was born in 1952 and second daughter Rima in 1956. Youngest son Rajiv was born in 1962. Randhir, Rishi and Rajeev have also acted in films. In spite of being a married man, Kapoor also had a longtime romantic relationship with actress Nargis during the Fifties. The couple starred together in several of Kapoor's films including Awaara and Shri 420.

Some of the people introduced by Raj Kapoor to films include his sons Rishi and Rajiv, Nimmi, Dimple Kapadia, Zeenat Aman and Mandakini. Also music directors Shankar-Jaikishan, lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri started off working in Raj Kapoor films.

Raj Kapoor was given the Dadasaheb Phalke Award 1987, for lifetime commitment to Indian cinema.

Raj Kapoor who had been suffering from asthma, passed away in 1988 at age 60. At the time of his death he had been working on Henna a film on an Indo-Pakistani love story. The film was completed by his son Randhir Kapoor.

Though Raj Kapoor was described by one critic as exhibiting "the carnality of a schoolboy" in his films, it remains indubitably the case that he was among the most successful film-makers for nearly four decades. Thus his sensitivity to the requirements of film audiences should not be dismissed. The present generation of films from Bollywood still borrows several themes that had been perfected in his films, and some believe that it is still a compliment for a commercial film to be compared to one of his works.

References

  • Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul. Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. London: British Film Institute; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994
  • Kishore, Valicha. The Moving Image. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1988

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The present generation of films from Bollywood still borrows several themes that had been perfected in his films, and some believe that it is still a compliment for a commercial film to be compared to one of his works. Many actors and filmmakers were influenced by Keaton, including Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Blake Edwards, and Jackie Chan. Thus his sensitivity to the requirements of film audiences should not be dismissed. Buster Keaton has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 1994, he was honored with his image on a United States postage stamp designed by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. Though Raj Kapoor was described by one critic as exhibiting "the carnality of a schoolboy" in his films, it remains indubitably the case that he was among the most successful film-makers for nearly four decades. (Why exactly they did this is uncertain, but it is clear that Keaton required others to manage his daily living; since his condition was already terminal and uncurable when it was diagnosed, perhaps they were concerned that if he had been told, he would have stopped working. Performing before a camera or a live-audience was what Buster enjoyed most, apart from model trains; perhaps he would have died sooner and with less quality of life had he been told the truth.) Buster Keaton is interred in the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. The film was completed by his son Randhir Kapoor. His wife and doctors let him believe that he had contracted chronic bronchitis, and he was never told that he was dying.

At the time of his death he had been working on Henna a film on an Indo-Pakistani love story. Buster contracted lung cancer after years of smoking. Raj Kapoor who had been suffering from asthma, passed away in 1988 at age 60. He also played the central role in Samuel Beckett's only film project, Film, in 1965. Raj Kapoor was given the Dadasaheb Phalke Award 1987, for lifetime commitment to Indian cinema. Shortly before he died, Keaton starred in one final short film called The Railrodder for the National Film Board of Canada, which saw him returning to the classic "stone face" role he had known during his heyday in the 1920s. Also music directors Shankar-Jaikishan, lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri started off working in Raj Kapoor films. His classic silent films did see a revival in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Some of the people introduced by Raj Kapoor to films include his sons Rishi and Rajiv, Nimmi, Dimple Kapadia, Zeenat Aman and Mandakini. But he largely believed, perhaps, that he had been forgotten. The couple starred together in several of Kapoor's films including Awaara and Shri 420. He also found steady work as an actor for TV commercials. In spite of being a married man, Kapoor also had a longtime romantic relationship with actress Nargis during the Fifties. Despite its popularity, he cancelled the program because he had been unable to accumulate the amount of material to produce a new show each week. Randhir, Rishi and Rajeev have also acted in films. He starred in "The Buster Keaton Comedy Show" for two seasons.

Youngest son Rajiv was born in 1962. Keaton and Chaplin share the screen for the only ten minutes in their lives, playing two aging former vaudeville stars trying to recapture a bit of glory, decades after both Chaplin's and Keaton's fame had peaked — though Keaton remarks, "If one more person tells me this is just like old times, I swear I'll jump out the window.". His second son Rishi was born in 1952 and second daughter Rima in 1956. Among the best is a brief cameo in Charlie Chaplin's late film Limelight. His first daughter Ritu was born the year following that in 1948. He often made guest-appearences in films, including Billy Wilder's 1950 film Sunset Boulevard, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. His first son Randhir was born the following year in 1947. His career declined within a few years, and he spent most of the 1930s in obscurity, working as a gag writer for various MGM films particularly those of the Marx Brothers,(including the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera and At the Circus ) and various films of Red Skelton.

Raj Kapoor married his aunt (his father's second cousin) Krishna in 1946 when he was 22 years old. He had difficulty adapting to the studio system, and he lapsed into alcoholism. Raj Kapoor kept up with this trend of titilating sexuality in later films like Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) and Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985). He was forced to enter the ranks of the studio system, working at the MGM studios in a more restrictive environment that he had ever worked in previously (including vaudeville). By the restrictive if not puritan standards of commercial Hindi cinema, Kapadia appeared in suggestive, some would say rather sexually explicit, poses and scenes. Keaton's filmmaking unit was acquired by MGM in 1928, a business decision that Keaton regretted ever afterwards. But the film owed its phenomenal success to other considerations as well. Between 1947 and 1954, Buster and Eleanor appeared regularly in the Cirque Medrano in Paris, where they were highly regarded as a double act.

The film Bobby (1973) introduced Dimple Kapadia, who would go on to become one of India's superstars, and established itself as the fore-runner of a new generation of romances targeted for adolescents. All their friends advised them against it, but the marriage lasted until Buster's death. However, after the box office failure of his ambitious Mera Naam Joker (My name is Joker), which took six years to complete, his movies took a more sensual turn. In 1940, Buster married the woman who not only saved his life but also helped to salvage his career — Eleanor Norris. She was 23, and he was 44. Visual imagery would always be an important part of his films. Bernard, Elmer. The angst of the common man is portrayed through heavy brooding landscapes and sets with sharply contrasted light. She later divorced Buster and took half of everything they owned — half of each dining set, half of each table and chair set, half of the books, and even Buster's favorite St.

The songs of his films endeared Raj Kapoor not only to the masses in India, but to audiences in large parts of Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union, where his films were to become enormous commercial successes. Many of his films were to be characterized not only by lively music, but by the extensive use of elaborate sets. Buster re-married in the late 1930s to his nurse during an alcoholic binge that he remembered nothing about afterward. He appealed also, as in his films Aag and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hein (The Country in which the Ganges Flows), to patriotic sentiment, nowhere better commemmorated than in the famous lines from a song in Shri 420:. (Keaton was reunited with them about a decade later.). Film historians and buffs have spoken of him as the "Charlie Chaplin of India," since he often himself played a tramp-like figure who, despite adversity, could still be cheerful and honest, a gem of a man. By the time Keaton's began work in sound pictures, Natalie had divorced him, taken his entire fortune, and refused to allow any contact between Keaton and his sons. Raj Kapoor whole-heartedly embraced the Indian popular cinema from the very beginning. He made every effort to ensure that his movies appealed to every section of society, in particular the common man. According to Keaton's autobiography, Natalie turned him out of the bedroom and then sent detectives to follow him to see who he was dating behind her back.

(See also: The Number 420.). In 1921, he married Natalie Talmadge, sister-in-law of his boss, Joe Schenck, and sister of the famous actress Norma Talmadge. After the birth of their second son, their marriage began to suffer. 420), a reference to someone who has a reputation for theft and deception, (since apprehensions for such crimes are usually section 420 of the Indian Penal Code) in 1955. The fact that he had a good voice and years of stage experience promised an easier adjustment than Chaplin's silent Tramp character, whom Chaplin thought could not survive sound. Films) and made his first feature film, Aag (Fire), which would become the first of his many early successes, including Barsaat (Rain) in 1949 and Shri 420 (Mr. In addition, the technical side of filmmaking fascinated him and he was forward thinking enough to want to produce sound films when they began to become technically practical and popular. In 1948, at the age of 24, he became the youngest film director of his time when he set up his own studio (R.K. Unfortunately, many of his most acclaimed films performed poorly in the box office due to their sophistication -- the audience had a difficult time seeing Buster as a cinematic artist of considerable ambition.

He got his first break as a hero in Neel Kamal, a 1947 film by Kidar Sharma. This is another fine introduction for new Keaton fans. The son of actor Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor started his career as a clapper boy assisiting for Kidar Sharma but bagged his first film role at the age of eleven. One of his last silent films, The Cameraman was released on DVD format in December, 2004. His family left Peshawar and came to Bombay in 1929. It is seen by many as a good choice for viewers who are becoming newly acquainted with silent films. He was born Ranbir Raj Kapoor in a town called Samandru in Peshawar (now in Pakistan). The last film, a Civil War adventure, is considered his masterpiece, combining physical comedy with Keaton's love for trains.

He permanently carved for himself a special niche in commercial Hindi cinema. His most famous and popular feature-length films included Our Hospitality, The Navigator, Steamboat Bill Jr., and The General. Raj Kapoor (December 14, 1924 - June 3, 1988) was a megastar, producer, director, actor and all-round showman. Likewise, his comedy, style, and humor has been called timeless, while other silent stars are said to have comedy that was of their era. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1988. His filmmaking style employs editing and framing techniques that are more closely aligned with today's sensibilities than the melodrama of other films of the day. The Moving Image. He enjoyed Lloyd's films highly and often praised Chaplin for his genius.).

Kishore, Valicha. (It should be said that Keaton never indulged in such comparisons. London: British Film Institute; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994. Today, Lloyd is remembered as a distant third to Keaton and Chaplin, and there are some who argue that Keaton was a superior filmmaker to Chaplin. Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. At the time, he was perhaps the third most popular comedian in America behind Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd. Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul. The initial success of his movies made Keaton one of the most famous comedians in the world.

He reached the peak of his creativity during the early 1920s, and he graduated from short films to full-length features. Keaton's success encouraged the studio to give him his own production unit, and Buster Keaton began starring in a series of two-reel comedies that rocketed him to fame, including One Week, Cops, The Electric House, and The Playhouse. Keaton later recalled that he soon became Arbuckle's second director and his entire gag department! Keaton and Arbuckle became close friends, a bond that would never break — even after Arbuckle was embroiled in the "Fatty Arbuckle scandal" that cost him his career and his personal life. He was quickly hired as a co-star and gag-man.

Arbuckle invited him to the studio, where Arbuckle was under contract to Joe Schenck. It was there in February 1917 that he ran into Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. Myra returned to their summer home in Michigan, while Buster travelled to New York, where he easily found work. By the time Buster was 21, Joe's alcoholism threatened the reputation of the family act, so Buster and Myra left Joe in LA.

"I don't know," he said, "ask his wife!" Despite entaglement with the law and a disastrous tour of the English Music Halls, Buster was a rising star in the theater, so much so that even when Myra and Joe tried to introduce Buster's siblings into the act, Buster remained the central attraction. The stage-hand, who was no fool, shrugged and pointed to Buster's mother. When one official saw Buster in full costume and make-up, he asked a stage-hand how old that performer was. However, this did not stop members of the public from passing a law banning child performers in vaudeville.

This would diminish the laughs from the audience, so Buster learned how to keep his famous dead-pan expression whenever he was working. In fact, Buster would have so much fun, he would begin laughing as his father threw him across the stage. Decades later, Keaton would state that he was never abused by his father, and that the falls and physical comedy was a matter of proper technical execution. So while Buster and Joe were knocked around, they were rarely injured or even bruised.

Of course, Buster deliberately goaded his dad by disobeying, for which Joe would throw Buster into scenery, the orchestra pit, or occasionally into the audience! This on-stage lead to accusations of child abuse; however, Joe had only started the act when little Buster (about four years old) showed his father that he could imitate his on-stage trick falls perfectly. The act consisted of a saxophone performance by Myra and an act between Joe and Buster where Joe tried to show the audience how to raise a small child. Keaton grew up in the world of vaudeville, performing with his parents (as "The Three Keatons") from the age of three. (To this day, Piqua is so small that the Annual Buster Keaton Celebration must be held in nearby Iola, KS.).

Currently on this site is a memorial plaque, and nearby is a small power plant than maintains a one-room Keaton museum. Buster was born in a boarding house that was later destroyed by a tornado. His mother and father, Myra and Joe Keaton, were paid performers of a travelling medicine show, and Myra happened to go into labor in Pique. Keaton was born in the town of Piqua (peek-WAY), Kansas.

It was only after Keaton was nicknamed the word became a name — one example of this early use is the comic strip character Buster Brown.). (At the time, the word "buster" either meant "bronco-buster" or a fall. His godfather was Harry Houdini, and Keaton himself credited Houdini with dubbing him "Buster" after seeing him, aged three, tumble down a flight of stairs without injury. Like his contemporaries, he came from vaudeville.

His trademark was physical comedy while keeping a deadpan expression on his face at all times, which earned him the nickname of "The Great Stone Face". Joseph Francis "Buster" Keaton (October 4, 1895 - February 1, 1966) was a popular and influential American silent-film comic actor and filmmaker. Meade Buster Keaton: cut to the chase. ISBN 0-306-80178-7.

New York: Da Capo Press. My Wonderful World of Slapstick. Keaton, Buster; Samuels, Charles (1982).

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