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Raj Kapoor birth anniversary: A look at posters, booklet art from RK Films

On the legendary filmmaker’s 92nd birth anniversary today (14 December), a look back at 18 glorious posters from the famous banner launched by Raj Kapoor.

Sonal Pandya

1. Aag (1948)

RK Films' debut film brought Raj Kapoor and Nargis together on the screen for the first time. Raj Kapoor turned producer and director with this film written by Inder Raj Anand. However, the film failed to create a stir at the box-office.

2. Barsaat (1949)

Nargis and Raj Kapoor returned as an onscreen couple in this hit film which also introduced Nimmi, as well as music composers Shankar-Jaikishen. A scene from the film, in which Kapoor holds Nargis in his arm while holding a guitar in the other, became the logo the nascent banner.

3. Awara (1951)

The film was a truly family affair as Prithviraj Kapoor played his father Judge Raghunath, younger brother Shashi played the young Raj and his grandfather Dewan Bashwanath Kapoor had a small role too. Awara competed at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival where it was up for the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (the highest honour at the festival).  

4. Aah (1953)

The plot of this 1953 drama was loosely inspired by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's Devdas, albeit with a happier ending. Aah was directed by Raja Nawathe, who formerly assisted Raj Kapoor on RK Films’ previous three features.

5. Boot Polish (1954)

This internationally-acclaimed RK production, directed by Prakash Arora, was in competition at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival and child artiste Baby Naaz got a special mention for her performance. Producer Raj Kapoor made a cameo in the film as a sleeping passenger on the train.

6. Shree 420 (1955)

This National Award-winning RK production is beloved all over the world with its catchy and timeless songs like 'Mera Joota Hai Japani' and 'Ichak Dana Beechak Dana'. It was also Nargis’s last full-fledged role under the RK banner; she made a special appearance in Jagte Raho (1956).

7. Jagte Raho (1956)

This adaptation of the Bengali play Ek Din Ratrey had Raj Kapoor enacting a nameless villager who goes through great travails just to quench his thirst. The film ranks as one of Kapoor’s best performances; with minimal dialogue, he conveys the anguish of a homeless man who trying his best to survive, daily.

8. Ab Dilli Dur Nahin (1957)

This lesser-known production from the RK banner featured Yakub, Motilal and a young Jagdeep in a story of young Rattan's quest to get justice for his father from the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The film also features the classic song, ‘Chun Chun Karati Aai Chidiyaa’, sung by Mohammed Rafi.

9. Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960)

Raj Kapoor won his second Filmfare Award for best actor in this tale of a simpleton who has to re-evaluate his beliefs when he comes across a dacoit gang. Nearly four decades later, Raj’s middle son, Rishi Kapoor, directed his first film, Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999), taken from one of the hit duets composed by Shankar-Jaikishan in Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai.

10. Sangam (1964)

The first RK production in colour; it was also one of the earliest Hindi films to shoot its song sequences abroad in Switzerland. Sangam, directed by Raj Kapoor after a gap of nine years, set the standard for romantic love triangles amongst friends and was often referenced in later films.

 11. Mera Naam Joker (1970)

Raj Kapoor's deeply personal film was both long in the making and its storytelling as it had two intervals during its 255 minutes running time. The artistic film, now considered a masterpiece, was Kapoor’s most ambitious (he invested his personal money in it) and borrowed heavily from certain events from his own life.

12. Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971)

Featuring three generations of Kapoors — Prithviraj, Raj and his eldest son, Randhir, the family drama passed the mantle over from Raj to Randhir. He made his acting and directing debut with the film, directing not only his father and grandfather but also Babita, who he went on to marry.

13. Bobby (1973) 

After the debacle of Mera Naam Joker, Raj Kapoor introduced two newcomers, his son Rishi and Dimple Kapadia, in this iconic narrative on teenage love. The youngster made quite the impact on the Hindi film industry — winning Best Actor and Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards the next year.

 14. Dharam Karam (1975) 

Once again, Randhir Kapoor directed and acted along with his father Raj as father and son in this under-performing feature. The film is remembered more for its music by RD Burman and lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri, especially the song ‘Ek Din Bik Jayega’ sung by Mukesh.

15. Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978)

Raj Kapoor directed his younger brother Shashi and Zeenat Aman in this social drama, dominated by Lata Mangeshkar's voice on the soundtrack, that implores viewers to look beyond the surface. Hema Malini and Dimple Kapadia were both considered for the lead role before Aman stepped in.

16. Biwi-O-Biwi (1981) 

Sanjeev Kumar, Randhir Kapoor and Poonam Dhillon star in this comedy of a young man looking for a suitable girl for marriage. Directed by Rahul Rawail, the slapstick comedy’s dialogues were written by Abrar Alvi.

17. Prem Rog (1982)

Raj Kapoor won his third Filmfare Award for Best Director with this social drama that brought to the forefront issues of widow remarriage and the status of women in a male-dominated society. Kapoor also won the Filmfare trophy for best editing while a teenage Padmini Kohlapure won the best actress award for her strong performance.

18. Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985)

In Raj Kapoor's last film as director, his youngest son Rajiv and newcomer Mandakini were introduced. Ravindra Jain won his only Filmfare award for best music director for his compositions and Ram Teri Ganga Maili also ended up winning Best Film at the Filmfare Awards that year.