Raj Kapoor

Best films:
7.0 Awaara (1951)
6.5 Shree 420 (1955)
6.5 Mera Naam Joker/ My Name is Joker (1970)
6.5 Bobby (1973)

One of the stars of Indian cinema of the 1950s was Raj Kapoor (India, 1924), who often indulged in an imitation of Charlie Chaplin's nomadic "Tramp", and was definitely a lot more than just an actor. His breakthrough was Kidar Sharma's Neel Kamal/ Blue Lotus (1947), that also starred Madhubala. Andaz (1949), directed by Mehboob Khan and written by Ali Raza, the only film he shared with rival actor Dilip Kumar, began his collaboration with actress Nargis Dutt (born Fatima Rashid). Kapoor directed the blockbuster Barsaat/ Rain (1949), written by Ramanand Sagar and again featuring Nargis Dutt, and the first one (of 20) with music by the duo Shankar & Jaikishan.

Inspired by Hollywood's super-productions, he personally directed himself and Nargis Dutt in Awaara/ The Vagabond (1951), a three-hour feast of lavish choreography and glowing ballets, a Chaplin-esque fable about a destitute man compelled by social injustice to become a thief. He again directed himself and Nargis Dutt in Shree 420 (1955), again written by Khwaja Abbas, a comic movie that inaugurated his Indian version of Chaplin's tramp.

He acted in Aah/ Fire (1953), directed by Raja Nawath, the allegorical and satirical Jagte Raho/ Stay Awake (1956), directed by Amit Maitra and Sombhu Mitra, written again by Abbas, about the many disgusting deeds witnessed by a tramp who is simply looking for a glass of water in a residential building, Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960), directed by Radhu Karmakar, Kapoor's longtime cinematographer, Dastan (1950), directed by Abdul Rashid Kardar, Anari (1959), directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Do Ustad (1959), directed by Tara Harish, Chhalia (1960), directed by Manmohan Desai, and the musical Sangam (1964), directed again by himself. It took him six years to make the four-hour Mera Naam Joker/ My Name is Joker (1970), written by Abbas with music by Shankar & Jaikishan, and then he also produced and directed the three-hour Bobby (1973), again written by Abbas and scored by the duo of Laxmikant Kudalkar and Pyarelal Sharma, while the three-hour Henna (1991) was completed by his son Randhir Kapoor three years after his death.

Kapoor represented the spectacular side of Indian neorealism. A typical cosmopolitan director of Mumbai, he was not afraid to staged inner-city prostitution and crime, retaining the traditional melodramatic framework but substituting everyday people for heroes.

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