December 14 marks the 91st birth anniversary of Raj Kapoor. A producer, director and actor with more than 70 films to his credit, Bollywood’s Show Man has an equally enviable list of recognitions to his name, including nine Filmfare Awards, the Padma Bhushan in 1971 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1987. Kapoor was even twice nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Awaara (1951) and Boot Polish (1954). Time magazine ranked his performance in Awaara as one of the top 10 greatest performances of all time.
Versatile and a maverick, Raj Kapoor is known as much for his own prowess as an actor and director as he is for getting the best of his colleagues. He went on to become the first in Indian cinema to have his heroines showcase their bodies in sensuous frames. From Vyjanthimala (Sangam) to Zeenat Aman (Satyam Shivam Sundaram) and Simi Garewal (Mera Naam Joker), Kapoor not only managed to convince everyone for some skin show, but was also appreciated for the aesthetic portrayal his leading women.
On his birth anniversary, we take a look Raj Kapoor’s heroines who were Bollywood’s sirens of their time:
1. Dimple Kapadia
Be it the red bikini or the polka-dotted knotted tops, Dimple sported the boldest of clothes in her debut film opposite Rishi Kapoor, Bobby (1973). The film established her as the icon of sensuality in the industry. It also won five Filmfare Awards, including the award for Best Actress.
When Raj Kapoor cast Vyajantimala in his love triangle Sangam (1964), where he also played one of the leads, fans saw the sexiest avatar of Vyajantimala yet - the song Bol Radha Bol showed her bathing in a river when Raj Kapoor steals her clothes and teases her. The film won three Filmfare Awards, including the awards for Best Actress and Best Director.
Raj Kapoor starred opposite Madhubala in Neel Kamal (1947) when she was a mere 14-year-old. In the movie, Madhubala’s beauty and sensuality was portrayed not with skin show but aesthetics and camera angles. The duo also worked in Dil Ki Rani (1947), Amar Prem (1948) and Do Ustad (1959).
4. Simi Grewal
Simi Garewal flaunted her oomph quotient like never before in the cult classic Mera Naam Joker (1970). The clothes, make up and Simi’s well directed expressions only added to the allure. The film earned six Filmfare Awards, including the Best Director for Raj Kapoor.
5. Zeenat Aman
Raj Kapoor explored the best of Zeenat’s stardom in Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), often focusing his camera on her cleavage. Though the film proved to be a dud at the box office, it established Zeenat as one of the hottest heroines of her era.
Raj Kapoor’s first heroine and arguably his favourite, Nargis set the screen on fire whenever she was teamed with the Show Man. There was little skin show in the case of Nargis but temperatures rose nonetheless in every single romantic frame of the duo.
Kapoor launched Nimmi in his film Barsaat (1949) that had songs like Patli Kamar Hai and Barsaat Hum Mile picturised on her. Kapoor had picturised three of the films’ popular songs entirely on Nimmi.
Though Kapoor faced criticism for his portrayal of Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985), his love for women with waterfalls in the backdrop was a saving grace. The movie was ultimately a hit and established Mandakini as a star.
9. Padmini Kolhapure
As the young widow in Raj Kapoor’s Prem Rog (1982), Padmini Kolhapure was widely appreciated for her innocence and beauty. The film earned several awards, including the Filmfare Award for Best Movie, Best Director and Best Actress.