Raj Kapoor was the son of well-known Indian actor Prithviraj Kapoor, who acted both in film and on stage. After apprenticing in the Bollywood production studios of the 1940's, at 24 years of age Raj Kapoor produced, directed and acted in Aag (1948), with his new company, RK Films. His next production, Barsaat (1949), was a smash hit. In 1951, he also produced, directed and starred in Awaara (1951), which was another megahit, and costarred Nargis , who had appeared in Aag and Barsaat. Awaara also gained popular acclaim in Russia, where the movie and songs were dubbed into Russian. The theme song, Awaara Hoon, was popular in the East for many years. Kapoor has been dubbed "a great showman," and a filmmaker in the purest Romantic tradition, as he strove to entertain as well as address social themes close to his heart. Awaara dealt with the question of what forms an individual's moral grounding, ("nurture or nature") while incorporating comedy and stirring love scenes; in Shree 420 (1955) he addressed issues of poverty, unemployment and national pride in the new Indian state at the same time maintaining the audience's interest in the romantic plot. While never revolutionary in tone, many of his films explore the ability of the individual to overcome economic and environmental injustice while maintaining his/her innocence and integrity. He is quoted as believing that the individual's struggles ultimately lead to the desire for love, to care and be cared for. This is consistent with his admiration of Charles Chaplin, and Kapoor's own "tramp" (Awaara, Shree 420, Mera Naam Joker (1972) is modeled somewhat on his mentor, though with a definite individual flair. His films demonstrate an understanding of music and direction that continue to influence Bollywood filmmaking today. Also a musician, his understanding of the musical feel of his movies gives them a storytelling fluidity equal to that of the best American movie musicals. He surrounded himself with the foremost talents in filmmaking, acting, writing (Kwaja Ahmad Abbas'), music composition ( Jaikishan Dayabhai Pankal , 'Shankarsinh Raguwanshi'), and playback singers, including Mukesh , 'Mohamed Rafi', and Lata Mangeshkar . Kapoor continued to make films of varying critical and popular success up until his death in 1988, and apparently considered Mera Naam Joker his personal favorite. He is still a well-known name not only in India, but in the Middle East, SE Asia, and Eastern Europe. His descendants have attempted to continue the RK Films banner.
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