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Raj Kapoor: The face behind the star

Ritu Nanda's book on her father Raj Kapoor brings out some of the intriguing facets of the yesteryear superstar.
PTI | By Bedika, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 30, 2007 12:55 PM IST

Book: Raj Kapoor
Author: Ritu Nanda
Publisher: R K Studios and Films
Page: 221
Price: 95

Lata Mangeshkar was the inspiration behind Raj Kapoor's Satyam Shivam Sundaram and he wanted to cast her in the 1978 R K Banner film, reveals Raj Kapoor's daughter Ritu Nanda in her latest book.

"I visualised the story of a man falling for a woman with an ordinary countenance but a golden voice and wanted to cast Lata Mangeshkar in the role," the book quotes Raj Kapoor as saying.

He believed that love and faith were contingent on purity of any relationship not on beauty. The book Raj Kapoor further says that Lata who had initially agreed to act in the film later declined the offer.

The book, which is a Hindi version of 2002 published book Raj Kapoor Speaks, released recently at a function held in the capital.

The book talks at length about Raj Kapoor's relationships with his female co-stars particularly his bonding and later estrangement with Nargis. "Raj Kapoor's egoistic tendencies and the futility of the future of their relationship made the ending of the relationship inevitable," believes the author.

Raj Kapoor later recalled, accepting Mother India was probably the toughest decision for Nargis. She had to decide whether to continue a relationship with Raj Kapoor without any future or to create a new life for her by leaving R K Studio, Ritu says.

Although Raj Kapoor never defined their relationship, he once said, "We understood each other. I cannot express my feelings towards her. No, it was not love, although I liked her very much. Probably it was a great emotional bonding of two great artists."

Nargis inspired Raj Kapoor in many ways. He met her when he was working on his first movie Aag. Describing his reaction, Raj Kapoor said that Nargis was a 'fairy' and later used this very scene in his movie Bobby.

It is quite clear that despite all the hardships that they faced, their respect for each other was mutual. Even the RK logo is somehow inspired by the legendary actress. Inspired by a still from his second movie


in this famous scene Raj Kapoor is holding Nargis in his one hand and a violin in the second.

This exalted image of love, beauty and music became the logo and identity of RK Studio. Perhaps the greatest irony of the showman's life was that his best movies flopped badly on box office and pushed him into great financial troubles.

He could never get over with the failure of

Mera Naam Joker


Jagte Raho

,(his last movie with Nargis). These movies remained very dear to him. Raj Kapoor felt that these movies were ahead of their times and could not appeal to the public at that time.

Raj Kapoor's love for the common public was represented in his movies. He said, "From my very first movie, I have played ordinary characters. I never tried to play the role of a blue eyed handsome young man in my movies."

Raj Kapoor believed that the audience had to identify with whatever was happening on the screen. It was his measure of making the right movie. "Never make anything in which you have no faith... I had the offer of some great movies which had all the material to be successful but I did not make them because they failed to inspire me."

Raj Kapoor, who has often been criticised for exploiting the nubile charms of his leading ladies had a very liberal view on presenting women, the book says.

Questioning this criticism he once said, "We are shocked to see nudity, we need to get mature. I have always respected women but don't understand why I am accused of exploiting them. Fellini's nude woman is considered Art but when I show a woman's beauty on screen, then it is called exploitation."

Commenting upon his "miraculous popularity" in Soviet Union, the showman believes that the Russians fresh from a mass revolution identified with his ordinary hopeful heros.

"My miraculous popularity in Russia has often left me wondering...Probably it had to do with the fact that Awara and Shree 420 were released there at a time when they were going through a great cultural revolution. My heroes became a symbol of their own struggles and aspirations," the book says.

Cinema was Raj Kapoor's life, his soul and the reason of his very existence. They signified the struggle and dreams of a nascent nation in search of a new identity.

His movies represent eternal hope. In his own words, "When I die bring my body to my studio. It is quite possible that I may wake up amid their lights shouting Action...Action".

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