Today (Dec 14th, 2020) lakhs of ardent fans will celebrate the 96th birth anniversary of ‘showman’ music-savvy director-actor Raj Kapoor. by Chaitanya Padukone
During my film-journalistic career I had the privilege to meet the unassuming Raj Kapoor-saab both at RK Studios ( Chembur) and at various film-parties. Today, the iconic RK Studios no longer exist, as the estate were sold to Godrej Properties. The realty major in turn has newly constructed a super-luxurious residential complex called ‘Godrej RKStudios’ on the same prestigious plot of heritage-sentiment land. Thankfully, the huge iconic RK gates facing the main road have been ‘retained’ and given a classy, glossy exterior finished look.
I had my photo-images clicked with Randhir-saab inside his amazing cabin
A few weeks before, before the RK Studios were sold off, the affable Randhir Kapoor (the eldest actor-director son of Raj Kapoor) who shares a warm personal rapport with me, invited me. It was an honour for me that I had my photo-images clicked with Randhir-saab (aka Dabboo-saab) inside his amazing cabin within the RK studios across their office corridor. An awesome nostalgic montage of photographs of all the celeb-Kapoors adorned the wall in his cabin.. The new ‘R K Films’ office has now been re-located on an entire floor in a new spacious commercial premises in Chembur area itself. The original ‘R.K.’ studios have witnessed glorious cinematic history in terms of the shooting of iconic scenes and songs and even the famous ‘R.K.’ Holi celebrations, where every celeb-star would let their hair down and indulge in crazy, colourful bonhomie.
He declined ‘VIP treatment’ and refused to circumvent the row and step up directly on the stage
‘The show must go on’ was the inspiring mantra given by the ‘late’ showman Raj Kapoor to the film fraternity. A diehard optimist, outspoken by nature, Raj Kapoor never let a flop or personal crisis deter him from going ahead with his next movie ventures. His unassuming nature was exemplary. I remember at filmmaker Sooraj Barjatya’s wedding reception, Rajsaab preferred to stand patiently in the rather long queue of guests, waiting for his turn to wish the bridal couple on the stage. He declined ‘VIP treatment’ and refused to circumvent the row and step up directly on the stage. This modest quality of ‘connecting with the common man’ always endeared him to the audiences.
Raj Kapoor created Indian version of Charlie Chaplin
With his legendary movie Awara, the charismatic Raj Kapoor created the bumbling naive tramp screen character, which is hailed as the Indian version of Charlie Chaplin. That’s because Kapoor’s vagabond characters indulged in subtle Chaplinesque tragic-comedy, which beautifully blended laughter with tears.
Another incident revealed that Raj-saab never forgot when someone did a good deed. In the early eighties, when he had almost-finalised newcomer actress Yasmin (Mandakini) to play the title role in his movie Ram Teri Ganga Maili, I happened to be on the sets of that movie at Shivaji Park. That’s because I was interviewing the other heroine Divya Rana from the same film.
Beta, I request you not to announce my new discovery Mandakini in the newspapers at this stage
Later, when Raj-saab saw me conversing with Mandakini, he took me aside and said: “Beta, I request you not to announce my new discovery Mandakini in the newspapers at this stage. I wish to reveal it at a later stage.”
It was actually a major scoop-breaking-news for me, as those days I was associated with Mid-Day the leading Mumbai tabloid newspaper. But I respected Raj-saab’s sentiments and instantly assured him that I would refrain from doing so. Many weeks later when I happened to meet him at a film party, Raj-saab waved out and said: “love you, son”. He remembered, that I had kept my promise and it was humble of him to acknowledge it publicly. Blessed with a fabulous music sense and knowledge of rhythm, Raj Kapoor was known to finally approve the right tunes to match the song situation.
Raj-saab has crazy fans who love to sing his songs who seem to be humming ‘Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge’!
Although he loved swaying to waltz and jazzy songs, Raj-saab preferred hardcore folk music, when it came to connecting with the masses. All these qualities certainly make him a legend. Awaara hoon, Mera joota hai Japaani, Par hum tumhaare rahenge sadaaa, are all haunting retro-song refrains from the treasure-repertoire of the legendary R.K.films banner — initiated by ‘showman’ actor-film-maker. Not just in India, all across Eastern Europe, Turkey, Russia and China, revered Raj-saab has crazy fans who love to sing his songs who seem to be humming ‘Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge’!