When a person like the Chief Justice of India mentions a personality in such glorious terms one needs to take notice.
Two days ago the new CJI, T S Thakur, who has already become the toast of the nation for some of his statements, recalled how he felt he was playing the role of Raj Kapoor when on a visit to Russia he was playing some of the Indian songs on his mobile on demand from the public in a market place.
The original showman of Bollywood, Raj Kapoor, producer, director and actor who was born on December 14, 1924, was immensely popular not only in Russia but in several countries like Africa but of course his ‘ Sarpe Lal Topi Rusi phir Bhi dil hai Hindustani’ explains why he remains the most popular ambassador of India in Russia.
Most of his films with social themes, where the rich, the embodiment of everything that is wrong with society, always lose out in the end to the hero with the ‘Heart of Gold’ accounts for his appeal to the masses who felt their dreams within their grip when they watched him carry away the heroine.
But Raj Kapoor was only a socialist in theory. Even though the legendary hero popularised songs like ‘Dil pe Marne wale Marenge Bhikhari’ he made sure that his films did not leave him, his family or his RK Studio, which he had set up at the age of 24, in penury.
The eldest of the three sons of Prithviraj Kapoor, (the others being Shammi and Shashi Kapoor) understood the pulse of the people and rarely failed to dish out cinema that would pull them to the theatre.
For this if he had to use the bodies of his heroines (and he was very choosy in this) he had no qualms in showing them in clinging or even semi-nude postures. It was part of his marketing strategy to rope in the moolah.
His famed romantic links with heroines like Nargis,Vyjayanthimala and Padmini were never denied by him even though some heroines did go public denying them.
Raj Kapoor loved the medium of cinema and used it to satisfy his fancies. He did make a disastrous decision in producing ‘Mera Naam Joker’a film much before the Indian audience was ready for it but made up for it later by producing a box office hit like ‘Bobby’ formally introducing his son Rishi Kapoor romancing a bikini-clad Dimple Kapadia, in a bold sensational avatar.
The film was not only high on content and songs but was marketed very shrewdly ensuring that the Kapoor family was back into profit making business. Similarly ‘Sangam’ starring him, Rajendra Kumar and Vyjayanthimala which was the first Indian film in colour remains a masterpiece of what drama a love triangle shot on beautiful international locales could create for audiences.
The last agonized call by the heroine of the film where she forcefully presents the dilemma of the Indian woman tossed between two friends ready to ‘ sacrifice’ their love for each other, remains unanswered because the man she loves shoots himself in the head leaving her no choice.
But all said and done, one must admit that Raj Kapoor has left behind a legacy of work rich not only in terms of cinema but some fantastic music composed by his favorite musicians Shankar and Jaikishan which have been trending on Facebook since morning.
And of course, how can one talk of Raj Kapoor without mentioning Mukesh whose voice had become synonymous with that of Raj Kapoor. He had no hesitation in acknowledging this when he said at the demise of Mukesh that he had lost his voice.
Acknowledging the role of someone else in one’s success can only be possible for a man with a large Heart and Raj Kapoor represented that class boldly.
By Amitabh Srivastava