Top 10 Movies of Raj Kapoor

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The original Showman of Hindi film industry, Raj Kapoor was a brilliant actor, director and producer.  A man who endeared himself to both the masses and classes, Raj Kapoor could portray the common man like no one before or after him.  The Charlie Chaplinesque style he adapted on-screen endeared him to national as well as international audiences.  The doyen of Hindi cinema, it is indeed a tough task to select just 10 of his best movies.  However, here’s a list of the top 10 movies of Raj Kapoor, the actor.  Enjoy the journey…!

10. Andaz

With the stalwarts of Hindi Cinema sharing screen-space, Andaz had Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor together for the first and only time. Directed by another legend, Mehboob Khan, Andaz, is still an inspiration to many of the Bollywood movies today.  Two guys, one serious and somber, Dilip (Dilip Kumar) and the flamboyant and flashy Rajan (Raj Kapoor) are in love with the same girl, Nina (Nargis).  The movie revolves around their lives and the turns and twists in their story.  Raj Kapoor’s performance remains unmatched and we see Dilip Kumar left behind in every scene!  His acting skills in this movie are seen as a textbook study for new actor! The way he is able to convincingly portray a gamut of emotions through the movie is indeed brilliant.  A must watch movie, to see Raj Kapoor at his best!

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9. Teesri Kasam

This Basu Bhattacharya movie won the National Award in the Best Film category. Raj Kapoor plays a naïve, village simpleton, Hiraman, a bullock cart puller.  As he carries the load from place to place, his experiences make him take two vows, the third one or Teesri Kasam is what moulds his life.  Waheeda Rehman playing the nautanki dancer Hira bai leads a life in contrast to his own.  This engrossing film also has some very memorable songs like, “Sajan re jhoot mat bolo”, “Chalat musafir” and “Duniya banana wale” along with the peppy “Paan khayo sayyan hamaro”.  Simplistic yet philosophical in its approach, Raj Kapoor the actor delivers some of his best performances under other directors…this movie is another testimony to that fact!

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8. Jagte Raho

This 1956 classic directed by Shombu Mitra and Amit Maitra had Raj Kapoor playing a common man. Based on the action of one night, the movie is a study in symbolism, and the realistic depiction of the characters is what makes it a classic to this day.  Raj Kapoor sharing his food with a stray dog under the street light captures the pathos of the character like nothing before.  With those hauntingly expressive eyes, Raj Kapoor’s realistic portrayal of a poor peasant who has come to the city in search of a better life is beyond words.  His search to quench his thirst shows him the true colors of the so-called respectable people which is in stark contrast to the naïve and innocence that he personifies.  The movie is a serious watch, but unbeatable in its portrayal of real life.  The memorable “Jago mohan pyaare” and “Zindagi Khwab hai” continue to be popular to this day!

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7. Sangam

A classic love triangle, Sangam had Raj Kapoor along with Vyjayantimala and Rajendra Kumar in the lead. The highly successful film was directed and produced by Raj Kapoor himself.  Though very lengthy even by the standards of the day, the movie continues to enthrall the audiences to this day.  Revolving around childhood friends, Sunder, Gopal and Radha the movie is their journey of friendship, love and male-bonding…of jealousy and obsession…of self-pity and loathing!  A study in human emotions, Raj Kapoor is at his best and the songs continue to be popular to this day.  With Mukesh’s playback and Raj Kapoor’s incredible expressions, “Dost dost na raha” can make you teary-eyed, while the playful “Bol Radha bol” and “Mujhe Budha mil gaya” can make you smile! Shot in foreign locales too, a rarity those days, the movie showcases the immense talent of Raj Kapoor as an all-rounder!

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6. Anari

This 1959 timeless classic directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, got Raj Kapoor the Filmfare Best Actor Award. Paired with Nutan, in this movie, Raj Kapoor as Raj Kumar plays a simple, honest, hard-working poor guy.  The movie enjoyed great commercial success and got rave reviews from critics.  Though an unparalleled director himself, the modesty of the great actor was such that he never interfered when being directed by others.  Infact, some of his best performances as an actor have been directed by others.  As Mukesh playbacks for him, the audience can only empathize with the vulnerability of Raj’s character, as he sings “ Sab kuch seekha hamne”.  The playful romance of Nutan and Raj Kapoor comes alive in “Woh chand khila woh tare hanse”…a song, that still sounds fresh and young today.  Watch the simplistic vulnerability of Raj Kapoor in this movie to get a taste of his ability.

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5. Aag

The movie has many firsts to it…the first movie to star the celebrated pairing of Raj Kapoor and Nargis, the first movie to be produced and directed by the man himself, the first movie under the R.K Banner! The movie showcases the absolute brilliance of Raj Kapoor as actor-director-producer. Though the movie didn’t taste commercial success, one gets a glimpse of the master-craftsman as he begins his career with a test of fire, literally! The chemistry between Raj Kapoor and Nargis is ignited in this one and continued to light up the silver screen in many more successful movies later on.  Raj Kapoor plays an idealistic, pining Kewal Khanna to Nargis’ Nimmi.  The film has underlying metaphors at every twist and turn and can seem heavy for a light-watch, but gives the audience an undeniable glimpse into the depth of the iconic Raj Kapoor!

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4. Chori Chori

This 1956 movie inspired by the Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert 1934, starrer “It Happened One Night” is among Raj Kapoor’s top movies. The legend pairs with Nargis in this highly successful movie.   Raj Kapoor plays a very convincing struggling journalist, Sagar, who is chivalrous and honest…trying to retain his morality, this knight in shining armor tries to help Kammo (Nargis), a rich spoilt brat, who runs away from home for her love, Suman(Pran).  The film had some very memorable romantic songs like, “Ye Raat Bheegi bheegi”, “Aaja Sanam madhur chandini mein” and “Rasik balma” among others.  Of course, the most popular song to this day is the puppet song enacted flawlessly by the lead pair, “Jahan mein jaati hoon”!  This ever green number is admired to this day.  The movie has been remade by Mahesh Bhatt, with his daughter Pooja Bhat and Aamir Khan in the lead, as “Dil Hain Ke Manta Nahin”, but the Raj Kapoor-Nargis magic couldn’t be touched!

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3. Barsaat

The first of the many box-office successes that Raj Kapoor tasted, Barsaat, is indeed counted among the best of Raj Kapoor movies. The success of the movie afforded him the chance to buy and establish R.K Studios.  The iconic poster of the film with Raj Kapoor holding an arched Nargis, in fact, became the signature of the RK banner…and continues to remain so.  The film saw the magical chemistry of Raj Kapoor and Nargis yet again.  Raj Kapoor the actor-director was just twenty-five years old, while filming this movie, which shows us why he became a legend in his lifetime!  With memorable songs like “Barsaat mein tum se mile hum”, “Chod Gaya Balam mujhe”, the movie traverses the tough journey that the onscreen lovers Pran and Reshma face.  The intense love scenes between Raj Kapoor and Nargis are a study in sensuality…with none of the skin-show or vulgarity that has become the mark of love in recent times; the lead pair is able to convey their love and the anguish of the separation and longing with eyes alone.  To experience poetry on celluloid, this movie is a must-watch for everyone!

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2. Shree 420

A Charlie Chaplin inspired Raj (Raj Kapoor) comes to the big bad city of Bombay, wearing honesty on his sleeve while jauntily singing, “Mera joota hain Japani”!  Instantly the movie became a hit and the song captured the essence of patriotism of nascent India, like nothing before.  Still echoing and playing in a billion hearts, the song became extremely popular in places like the then USSR, some African countries and Middle Eastern nations.   A whole nation watched mesmerized the ease and intensity with which Raj Kapoor played the role of an honest man lured by the dazzling city lights…the turmoil to choose between the honest and the glitzy.  With Nargis playing his lady love, the two ignited the screen with the immortal number “Pyaar hua iqraar hua” as they get drenched hopelessly under one big black umbrella in the lashing Bombay rains!  The poignant number “Ramayya Vastavayya” will tug at your heart-strings and the bubbly “Ichak dan, beechak dana” will make you smile.  A movie that will draw you back again and again, Shree 420 has Raj Kapoor at his best!

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1. Awaara

This iconic 1951 movie endeared Raj Kapoor not only to the Indian audiences but won him a huge fan following in erstwhile USSR, South East Asia, and other African countries as well. In a nature vs nurture debate that is the theme of the movie, Raj Kapoor plays Raj Raghunath who turns a petty criminal.  The movie was one of the biggest hits of its time and is still considered one of the All Time 100 Greatest Films by Time magazine.  The ever popular “Awaara hoon”, the title track of the movie became an anthem of sorts not only in India, but many other countries as well.  With Nargis playing Rita, his love interest in the movie there was no looking back for Raj Kapoor.    His famous emulation of Charlie Chaplin took seed in this movie and he continued to copy the legendary “Tramp” in many of his forthcoming movies.  His performance in the movie is acknowledged among the Top 10 Best Performances of all times…Raj Kapoor as actor-producer-director is at his best in this top of the chart movie.  You sure don’t want to miss this milestone in Hindi cinema.

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CONCLUSION

An iconic legend whose movies continue to inspire and enthrall the audiences, Raj Kapoor was indeed the first brand ambassador of Indian cinema.  His acting, his direction and his passion for movies, continue to be the benchmark that others in the film industry strive to achieve.

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