Happy Birthday Raj Kapoor! 63 Reasons I Love You

You’re dead, but that’s no reason to stop celebrating.  Your legacy lives on in many ways.  So I am going to count down 63 reasons I love you, one for every year you lived (until you died). (obviously this is a reposted post from last year, I don’t have time to come up with 63 new reasons every year, not even for Raj)

1.1.  I love you because your father Prithviraj Kapoor was a dedicated stage actor who brought you up backstage.

2. I love you because you were the oldest son of your family, the only one to remember the years living in Peshawar with your grandparents, and the years to struggle before success in Bombay.

3. I love you because you survived a level of tragedy at age 7 that most people would never be able to recover from (both your younger brothers dying within a week of each other).

4. I love you because, while your father was on set and on stage, you essentially raised your two much younger siblings.

5. I love you because at the same time, you also put in more than a full days work every day at your father’s theater company, going from stage hand to stage manager by the time you were a teenager.

6. I love you because you rebelled and joined films, rather than stage theater as your father wished.

7. I love you because you were already acting by 19, and you were a star by 23.

8. I love you because you turned producer and director at only 24, and your first film was a hit.

9. I love you because your lifetime of training in theater stood you in good stead, letting you design everything from costumes to sets in a way no other director could.

10.  I love you because despite your obvious brilliance, your father never quite understood or appreciated what you were doing.

11. I love you because your first movie, Aag, was a lovely and lonely cry for love.

12. I love you because in your next film as a producer, Barsaat, you became one half of the greatest Jodi Indian film would see until SRKajol.

(Yes, Nargis was in Aag too, but that was more of a glorified cameo, here she was one half of the lead pair)

13. I love you because in your 3rd movie, you revolutionized film forever.  Creating the kind of transgressive natural passion that India had never seen, and which Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe and Asia fell in love with.

14.  Giving us the modern dream sequence, with elaborate sets and visual metaphors.

15.  And at the same time, a sweet and natural (and sexy!) love song.

16.  Also a lengthy opening childhood flashback to explain motivation and insecurities in the adult characters.

(Baby Shashi!)

17. And a modern young woman with a traditional faithful Indian heart.

18.  Not to mention the social message, the tragedy of the patriarchy doubting and punishing innocent women.

20.  And of course the ultimate Indian hero, charming, wandering, homeless and loveless but with great heart.

21.  I love you because while you produced hit after hit after Awara, you get working as an actor as well, funding your own films.

22.  I love you because eventually you were able to build a grand studio space, the rental of which is still keeping your family supported today.

23.  I love you because you refused to rest on your laurels, constantly driving Indian film into new directions, not just making socially relevant urban romances, but a children’s movie (Boot Polish) and a peasant film (Jagte Raho).

24. I love you because you did right by your long time collaborator Nargis, at least professionally, always giving her great characters with screen time equal to your own.

25. I love you because you did the same for your co-stars like Pran and Premnath, making sure they each had a chance to shine, which also meant the films were stronger as a whole with the performances balanced.

26. I love you because you discovered and encouraged other talents like Lata Mangashkar and Shankar-Jaikishen.

27.  I love you because you worked day and night to build your career, so much so that you barely saw your own 5 children during their childhood, but brought joy to generations of other children not your own through the industry you helped build up.

28. I love you because at the same time you took the time to mentor your two younger brothers, making sure they received a higher pay than you did while working for your father, coordinating their film launches, and easing their way in a hundred little ways they never even knew about.

29.  I love you because unlike most producer/directors you didn’t just produce your own movies, you supported other talent as well.

30.  I love you because you were still stylish and dashing and well able to play the hero all the way into your 40s.

31.  I love you because, after inventing Indian film with Awara, you came back and perfected it (at least, your brand of it) in Shree 420.

32.  I love you because you also had time to give us a children’s song!

33.  Speaking of kids, you were also one of the first to insert an animated sequence!

34.  I already talked about how brilliant Sangam was.  But let’s take a moment to watch it again!  And appreciate not just his directing, but his acting.

35. Speaking of his acting, check out how amazing he is in this song in someone else’s movie, Teesri Kasam with a luminous Waheeda Rahman.

36.  But of course your Magnum Opus, greatest performance and greatest film, is Mere Naam Joker.

37. Another one!  This is the song that Asha Bhosle broke down in tears during the time I saw her (which I think was mostly because she was old and tired, but also a little the song).

38.  Mere Naam Joker broke your heart, but it also convinced you to make way for a new generation, and thus your next production was Kal Aaj Aur Kal, featuring all 3 of the Kapoor men with your oldest son Randhir taking the lead.

(Also, hey, check out Kareena and Karisma’s future mother dancing with her future husband!)

39. And you acted your best for your son!

40.  Besides working on our son’s film, and you kept working on films for other people, using your own labor to support the life of the studio.

41.  But what’s really impressive is how you gracefully you stepped aside, launching the next generation, not just of your family but of the whole Indian film style with Bobby.  You were 2 years younger than the Khan’s are now, but you knew your time was over.

42.  I love you because Bobby was brilliant, teaching a new kind of love story with teenage rebels who didn’t need society.

43.  I love you because the social issues you address, and your attitude towards them, was not just advanced for your era but even for India today.

44.  I love you because you managed to give a career to both your brothers, and launched all 3 of your sons before you were done.

45.  I love you because you also mentored and launched a series of young actress, from your future daughter-in-law Babita to Zeenat Aman to Meenakshi.

46.  I love you because you kept up the international profile you had gained from Awara, judging a Moscow film festival and making a cameo appearance in a BBC production of Kim.

47.  I love you because Google commemorated your 90th birthday in 2014!

Image result for raj kapoor google doodle

48. I love you because your widow, and grandson Ranbir, still live in the house you built for your wife and parents with your film earnings.

49.  I love you because your name is still so powerful that your grandsons can only get a launch by invoking it.

50.  I love you because you used to take your daughter’s son with you on location during his school vacations, an experience which gave him the confidence and comfort in the film industry to make him the only man not afraid of Amitabh Bachchan, and therefore the only man capable of marrying his daughter.

Image result for shweta bachchan and wedding

(Look how cute Navya Nanda was when she was tiny!)

51. I love you because you nailed young innocent love when you yourself were pushing 50.

52.  And you did it while acknowledging their sexuality and hormones.  And with a tiger!

53.  And creating songs so timeless that they were just referenced in your grandson’s film earlier this year.

54. Speaking of sexuality, you also gave the world Satyam Shivam Sundaram.  Which gave us some lovely songs, and also of course Zeenat Aman without a blouse.

55.  And also the groundbreaking first white sari-water fall scene.

56.  Groundbreaking in a different way was your film with Rishi in which you let him romance and bring back to happiness an abused widow and rape victim.

57.  And it wasn’t just that he romanced her, he was willing to confront all of society and argue for her freedom and happiness.

58. Of course, all that social statement won’t pay the bills.  He still had to launch his last son, in a film that was scandalous enough to catch society’s attention (the breast-feeding scene!)

59. I love you because by the time you had seen both younger brothers and all 3 sons launched, and both daughters and sisters married, you had worked yourself to sickness.  Well, hard work plus the congenital Kapoor issues with food and drink.

60.  I love you because you were offered one last honor, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest film honor, right before your death.

61.  I love you because your death was as magnificent as everything else in your life, you collapsed live on television as the Prime Minister of India was about to give you your award.

62.  I love you because your legacy lives on in your family, not just in film, but in the parties and the responsibility to the rest of the film community, and everything else about how they live their lives.

63.  And finally, I love you forever and ever for creating the ultimate film sequence of Indian film, the one that tells you everything you need to know about why these films are special, and like and unlike every other industry at the same time.

 

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28 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Raj Kapoor! 63 Reasons I Love You

  1. I’m reading this in the middle of a Raj Kapoor film marathon on tv. Managed to watch the very last bit of Mera Naam Joker. I’ve watched it quite a few times before too. But now that I watched that as an adult who knows the story, I could really focus on the imagery. Was it meant to feel stifling? Or I felt that way just because I was watching that after a physically exhausting 2 days?

    Btw, mom and beau kept talking over the film. Reminiscing about the film but talking loud enough for me to miss the dialogue!

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    • I wouldn’t be surprised if it was intended to feel stifling. If I am remembering the plot correctly, our hero keeps reliving the same experience of falling in love and being rejected.

      On the other hand, it’s also an old-fashioned film, rather than today’s digital films made with lighter cameras where there is more movement.

      On Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 5:30 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh and on an unrelated topic-

    I’ve been meaning to set up a Don’t Call It Bollywood facebook group. As a place to promote DCIB blog posts as well as to give members a place to share film news from the pages that they may be following. Or simply pictures of stars that they may like or want to share. Like a companion group to the blog and the FB page. I send you things on messenger for the page. Something like that for all members.

    I want the blog and the fun we have here to be more easily available to the people in my list. Most of them read a post I’ve shared knowing that’s what they like but I can’t make them keep coming back if it isn’t exactly what they already like. I want my FB peeps to know more about the south industries etc. And I need to SHOW this place to them.

    What say? How many readers think that’d be a good idea? I’d set the group up if 10 of us agree to join it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Speaking as the blog owner, this makes me very very nervous. There is no way to maintain a profit on Facebook, or to prove that the people there are “my” audience, so it would essentially be taking the community that I have sweated blood to build from the ground up here, and moving it to somewhere else. Let’s just go ahead and say “stealing” it.

      I want your conversations to be HERE, I want new readers to come HERE. If they go anywhere else on the internet, it is taking money and influence and everything else that I have been trying to build away from me. I understand it is easier to stay on Facebook for everything, but that’s kind of what’s killing the small websites like mine, because we have to fight that inertia.

      I will put up any post you want to make discussion easier here, the Wednesday Watching is already where you can share news stories. Tell me something else you want to make conversation easier, and I will try to build it. Just please don’t leave!

      That said, I can’t really stop you, but I would appreciate it if, after a group is set up, it turns out that I start losing views/readers rather than gaining them, you’d be willing to at least consider shutting it down?

      On Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 5:53 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Oh that’s not what I’m aiming for at all. Come on, you know that right?!!!

        The goal is to make the blog easier to find or for the blog’s FB page to appear more prominently in group suggestions and page suggestions for people that haven’t liked your FB page already. I’m absolutely not, not even one bit, suggesting taking audience away from your blog. You know I wouldn’t want that at all, right?

        What I’m hoping for is – you put up a post on the blog and it goes up on your FB page and it gets shared on the group. Your core audience would always come to the blog to read the content of the blog. The new guys, who don’t know your blog exists, find members commenting on, reading, sharing your blog posts on their own FB feed. Which gets more people to the blog. The comment action here is amazing. Who’d want to miss that? Plus, group members can share items, pictures, film news, thoughts, etc from their own feeds to the group. that’s the multiplier effect that is completely gone without a FB community interacting with and thus promoting the blog there. Also, at some point, if it works for you, the blog comments sections gets FB integration so comments on FB and here are visible on both platforms.

        You can set the group up, own it, and appoint admins to manage it because I know you don’t have the kind of time to run an extra promotional group. Your blog has close to a thousand followers here and unsubscribed viewers in five digits at least, right? So if out of the thousand, for starters, 30-40 people join the group (group because FB makes sharing to pages difficult and group sounds more like a club) and those initial 30-40 members have 3-4 people in their friends lists who may like/know about indian films or a particular star, they maybe join the group or at least know their friend is interested in indian films and stars. More page interaction boosts group visibility on FB AND Google. The Google part is important. I found the blog on second or third page of a Google search for Bahubali analysis! With an active FB page, a Google search for “bollywood” gets the blog bumped up in search results. Plus, with an active FB presence, people who don’t read your blog already get an advert/group suggestion saying their friends are in this group. You can put up old posts to make them better visible to existing members who will of course come to the blog to read it.

        If you find it affecting your blog views and comments, you can just delete the group. Simple. A couple of months or weeks and if it doesn’t work for you, it’s gone!! I definitely never ever would want a fangroup for the blog to take readers away.

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        • Baradwaj Rangan’s blog always has a lot of visitors and a lot of comments on his reviews, and he provides a link on Facebook and Twitter. You could just provide a link to your blog, which might help bringing in more traffic.

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          • So I’m a social media manager and this is a complicated subject but basically Facebook is now pay to play. If you want to drive traffic from FB to your blog you will need to pay for ads. The ads are extremely cheap, like you can put down $10 and get a decent return on your money. But simply putting up a page and waiting for organic engagement won’t get you anything. It’s also good to have a strategy to collect people’s email addresses so you can message them directly and not depend on FB to communicate with your audience and so on. I’m happy to talk about it but I’ve held back because Margaret has indicated pretty strongly she’s not interested which I can understand. FB is both useful and a giant pain in the ass to deal with.

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          • Ewww, paying for ads just seems like cheating. I’ve gotten this far on pure quality. But then, I am also slipping fast right now (mostly because of Christmas/Padmavati not coming out), so it might be time to try cheating.

            If we start with a Facebook group (I don’t even understand what that is, but I will trust you to organize it) just so that it can be helpful in the word-of-mouth realm for people who just will not get off Facebook and check out something beyond it, I can try that. It is hard, because of course I would be using Facebook to support a call to action of “get the heck off Facebook and go somewhere else and don’t come back”, which seems very counter-intuitive. It’s not like I want you to click over and sign a petition or buy something or something like that, you know? I want you to click the link, and then save it as a bookmark and just go to DCIB directly from now on.

            On Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 9:32 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • So here’s what I would do if I were Margaret: set up a Facebook page (NOT a group because you have more tools and control with a page) and then aim to post 3 times a day (should be easy since Margaret regularly posts on her blog that often plus she has a huge archive that she can post from as well).

            In addition, Margaret can regularly plug her book and have a pinned post at the top of her page promoting the book.

            When she sees one of her posts performing well, she can throw a little money behind it so it reaches a bigger audience (targeting people who are interested in Bollywood, which is something you can set in the Facebook ad tools).

            This will serve to drive more traffic to Margaret’s blog. It’s not realistic to expect people to go to the blog and never go back to Facebook, but traffic on individual posts should go up. She will also become a “thought leader” in this space, which means your cultural influence will spread as more people read your blog posts.

            Margaret, let me know if any of this sounds appealing to you. Happy to help you get this launched if you’re interested.

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          • Well, I already have the page and it already gets posts, if I am understanding this correctly, because I’ve hooked it into my WordPress account so WordPress cross-posts (like they do on my twitter account too).

            https://www.facebook.com/dontcallitbollywood/

            At least, I think I have the page and I think I am cross-posting. I have no idea what it looks like to a regular person, because I only see the Admin side, and I have no idea what a Facebook page is supposed to look like, because I hate Facebook and have never used it.

            Facebook is also CONSTANTLY sending me little alerts saying “did you know, people have boosted posts like your [blank blank] post for only $–?”, so I assume all I have to do is click on one of those suckers to actually boost a post.

            I think I also have the ability to add a “group” to the page, if I wanted to. No idea how that differs from just commenting on posts, but I won’t worry about it if you tell me it is a good idea (clearly illness has weakened me and I am just doing whatever you suggest today).

            On Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 11:24 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I took a look at your page and you have a great start! Don’t bother to set up a group for your page***. I would just start putting money to promote your website link and boost your posts. Your follows should start to jump pretty quickly and your page traffic should follow.

            *** Brief primer on pages vs. groups: https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook/facebook-tips-whats-the-difference-between-a-facebook-page-and-group/324706977130/

            Most importantly for you, when you have a page, posts to the main feed are done solely by the administrators. Groups allow all members to post to the main feed. Pages give you more control over content.

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          • Thanks! I’ll keep up what I am doing and figure out a post that it would make sense to “boost” and if I can afford/want to do that.

            On Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 12:32 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Raj slaps the hell out of Nargis in that beach scene, YIKES. I know, old movie, old values, and there are old Hollywood films with similar scenes (Redheaded Woman comes to mind) but that still freaked me out.

    On a positive note, Raj had a brilliant eye for outdoor composition, the way the camera frames the landscape and where he places the actors, it’s so well done.

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    • Yep! That slap was shocking! And her swimsuit was shocking too. It was a potent combination of sex and violence and all of that in one scene. Definitely breaks through the idea of the old classics as a more innocent time.

      On Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 9:26 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I bet you would have found some additional reasons if he had lived a bit longer 😉 I think, I can relate to every reason 🙂
    He never wrote an autobiography, right? And except Rishi are there other people who wrote about him in their own autobiographies?
    Two such prominent personalities of Hindi Cinema, Dilip Saab and Raj Kapoor. When I look at ShahRukh’s professional personality how it is described when doing a movie, he seems to be rather close to Dilip Saab’s behaviour.

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    • He had such an wide ranging influence, I am sure any autobiography of a major figure would include stories about him. Rishi is, I think, the only close member of his family to have written something thought. Although, Dilip seems to have essentially been his brother, and I felt like I got to know a lot more about him from Dilip’s memories too.

      I agree, I think Shahrukh is closer to Dilip than Raj. But not exactly like either. Raj liked to be the center of the film set, to throw his personality around. And then on social occasions, he was the happiest friendliest most outgoing person there. Dilip was more warm and encouraging on film sets, and tended to build deep connections with people. So, more like Shahrukh. Only, he built more deep connections than I think Shahrukh has built. And he was a little less interested in building up a brand and a fame than Shahrukh is. In terms of Red Chillies and the ads and that side of thing, that reminds me more of Dev.

      Really it’s just a tribute to how important all 3 of them were, that future stars are able to pick and choose from aspects of their legacies.

      Like

    • Sheer 420 would be perfect. Awara is almost too intense, it’s when they were in the first flush of love.

      And coincidentally, I had a post scheduled in this very topic! One sec, I’ll post it now.

      Like

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