Jaagte Raho (1956)

As I’d mentioned in my last post, I’m not much of a Raj Kapoor fan. I have seen most of his films, but I like very few of them. Jaagte Raho, a flop when it was first released (even though it won an award at Karlovy Vary) is one of the exceptions: an RK film that I found engrossing and worth the watch. Part of it probably is the fact that it features a veritable who’s who of 50’s Hindi cinema character actors. Part of it is due to Salil Choudhary’s superb music. And more than that, it’s because this is a well-scripted story, socially relevant in a tongue-in-cheek way.

The film starts off on a night in Calcutta, where nightwatchmen roam the streets periodically calling out to each other: “Jaagte raho!” (“Keep awake!”). One of these diligent men, in his perambulations, comes across a filthy and bearded man (Raj Kapoor), who’s poking at a hydrant, trying to get some water. It turns out that this man—I’ll call him the Villager, since he’s never given a name—has arrived in Calcutta from the village, has no place to go to, and is very thirsty.

The nightwatchman isn’t a sympathetic man, and shoos the Villager away. Disheartened, the Villager’s still plodding through the streets, when he encounters a Drunk (Motilal), singing Zindagi khwaab hai, waking up pavement-dwellers, and generally having a whale of a time. When the Drunk accidentally drops his wallet, the Villager returns it to him, and is the recipient of much gratitude—so much, in fact, that the Drunk insists the Villager come home with him.

It doesn’t happen, after all, since taxi driver shoos the Villager away and drives off with the Drunk. The Villager sets off again in search of water, and sees a dripping tap through the half-broken gate leading to an apartment block. He squeezes in through the gate, gets to the tap, and is about to finally quench his thirst when he’s spotted by a watchman, who raises the alarm, thinking the dim figure is a thief.

The Villager panics and runs—straight into the heart of the apartment block, where he ends up taking refuge in the kitchen of a small household. Kailash Babu (Rashid Khan), the householder, is sleeping the sleep of the just when the watchman’s cries awaken the neighbourhood. Within a matter of minutes, the hot-headed young men of the neighbourhood, headed by two enterprising fellows (Iftekhar and Krishan Dhawan) have armed themselves with clubs, tennis racquets and curtain rods, and are combing the area for the thief they believe has entered the apartment block.

In all the turmoil, the Villager manages to lie low (by hiding in an empty oil drum), though Kailash Babu’s daughter Sati (Smriti Biswas), who’s been canoodling with her lover (Pradeep Kumar) on the sly, nearly gets caught.

Once the thief-hunters have satisfied themselves that the thief isn’t hiding in Kailash Babu’s flat, they move off—and the Villager embarks on a night of high adventure, as fate sends him from the apartment of one wealthy and supposedly ‘respectable’ man to another. He meets, once again, the cheery Drunk, and discovers that the Drunk has a self-sacrificing, all-enduring wife (Sumitra Devi) at home: a woman who, in an attempt to keep her husband at home, consents to sing and dance for him, even though she finds the very idea repulsive (shades of Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam, anyone?)

Then there is Shashank Babu (Pahadi Sanyal), whose best friend is his neighbour, a staunch Brahmin who is a dab hand at predicting which horses will win at the races…

Shashank Babu himself is perennially short of cash, so has to resort to stealing his wife’s jewellery off her while she’s sleeping. His wife, Meenu (Sulochana Chatterjee) has gotten so fed up by now that their home’s a veritable battleground.

And there is the wealthy philanthropist Ram Narayan Mullick (Nemo), who has offered a gold medal as prize to the man who catches the thief who’s got into the apartment block. Mullick is well-respected and much admired, a man who seemingly spends all his wealth on the welfare of the poor and needy. He has, for instance, made a small charitable hospital within the apartment block:

…which only a few insiders realise is the main conduit for Mullick to distribute the currency he forges.

A criminal philanthropist. A priest who gambles. A man who steals from his own wife. A daughter who carries on an affair under her father’s nose. A man who has no qualms about making his wife sing and dance for his pleasure. All of these, and more, join the hunt to find the so-called ‘thief’ they’re sure is hiding in the block of flats.

Jaagte Raho is really not so much a story, more a loosely knitted together set of vignettes, little episodes from the lives of people who sometimes have only the most passing of relationships with the others in the film. In a matter of one night, the camera follows the Villager as he looks for a little water with which to quench his thirst. The resultant story is socialist, sarcastic in its ridicule of the superficially ‘respectable’, and overall pretty entertaining. Recommended.

What I liked about this film:

Very much: Jaagte Raho is one of the few Raj Kapoor films that I really like. It’s well-scripted, taut and efficient, with almost no superfluous plot elements. The acting is by and large good (Daisy Irani, S N Bannerjee and Nargis are among the others who appear in the film). And, Salil Choudhary’s music is excellent. Zindagi khwaab hai is probably the best-known of the songs, but other favourites of mine include Jaago Mohan pyaare and Ainvei duniya deve duhaayi.

What I didn’t like:

Raj Kapoor as the Villager. Jaagte Raho, like Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, is a tale shown from the point of view of a minor character. In The Hidden Fortress, two bumbling peasants, fleeing from a countryside ravaged by war, become unwitting witnesses to the saga of a princess and her general, as they try to escape with a valuable treasure in tow. In Jaagte Raho, too, a bumbling peasant—the grubby and nameless Villager who searches for water in the big, bad city—is the focal point, the man through whose eyes we get to see so many stories unfold. The Villager is, for me, a character both sympathetic and irritating. It’s easy to feel sorry for this man, who’s being labelled a thief for no fault of his own. On the other hand, there are moments when I felt like hitting him on the head. Firstly, when someone is that thirsty, he wouldn’t waste a single opportunity to drink some water. Which is exactly what this man does; he’s carrying a jug of water to splash on an unconscious woman’s face, but he never even takes a swallow from it. (Yes, it could be a way of showing how selfless he is; but how normal is that?) And when he sees running water, he gapes at it instead of drinking it. Please!

And then there’s the general demeanour of the Villager. He is, of course, nervous (even downright scared), resorting to lame disguises and subterfuge to escape notice. But, every now and then, he seems to get possessed by some wandering imp. Then, instead of trying to blend into the background, he indulges in pranks that blow his cover sky-high. I’d expect a timid creature like this to stick to the shadows instead of deliberately putting himself at risk of discovery.

Worst of all, Raj Kapoor’s acting in places is completely over the top. There’s one scene towards the end where the Villager fears that he’s finally going to be caught, and the minute-long ‘panorama of expressions’ that follows is theatrical in the extreme.

The protagonist in Jaagte Raho is, at first glance, a far cry from the hero of films like Anari, Awara, or Shree 420. These had Raj Kapoor in a more readily recognisable ‘lovable tramp’ role: educated young man, highly principled and good, tries to stay afloat against the combined forces of wealth and organised crime. In the process, Chaplin-like, the protagonist gets up to harmless tricks (some slapstick here) that help move the story forward. In Jaagte Raho, Raj Kapoor’s character is, on the surface, different: rural, illiterate, simple—but, like the others, singularly upright, honest, and not above the occasional prank to help him accomplish something.

If you are fond of Raj Kapoor and his trademark style, you’ll see glimpses of it here. If you don’t much care for it, I’d still recommend watching Jaagte Raho: it’s a good film, well-made and entertaining.

45 thoughts on “Jaagte Raho (1956)

  1. whatever may one talk of Raj Kapoor, though I too coveniently liked him and his films at my choosing.
    But a great Bollywood Indian Ambassador whose legacy yet to be matched leave alone surpassed.

    Aawaara the film and the song Aawaara hun.. and Mera Jhoota hai Japani songs in the black & white era without the idiot box swept the erstwhile Soviet Union and Afghanistan like a plague unlike its effects when every Indian was welcomed as ‘Raj Kapoor’. Every radio in Kabul, Tashkent and Moscow played these two songs with Aawaara hun the most popular.
    With, television, big budgets, extravagant shootings and big stars they still have not managed to achieve an iota of Raj Kapoor’s in-measurable & invaluable contribution as an Indian Ambassador.


  2. I was just wondering why you had to put up a post. I was missing them actually :)
    Jaagte Raho is one film that has never interested me. Because raj Kapoor does not look good in it. But, Yves told me review it once because he said it was kind of a social comment (like all Raj Kapoor’s films). You post eggs me on to watch it simply because I am always game for well-told narratives and entertainment and good stories. Great post Madhulika and awesome analysis. I have to watch this soon and let’s see what I have to say about it. But I’m sure I won’t be able to sum it as well as you have done!!


  3. Awesome, simply awesome DO, this movie when it was released was not understood by the Public, kinda surprise bcos me thinks it was very well made, very well acted, g8 songs.

    I have never missed RK movies, being a movie buff I have to see everything and never make exceptions, it makes no difference who acted in it, so kudos Do for bringing RK on your Blog.

    Motilal, ace actor.

    Cheers .)


  4. A big LOL at this ‘when he sees running water, he gapes at it instead of drinking it. Please!’

    Point taken about his acting styles sometimes but I’m a fan of the man come what may. I like films that happen in one day, apart from Ittefaq what other ones can you think of and happens in a day


  5. Mr Neelakantan: True, RK did a lot for popularising India and Hindi films abroad – but by that yardstick, I prefer the films of Indian cinema’s other two major stalwarts – Satyajit Ray and Guru Dutt – to Raj Kapoor’s. Not that I hate all of RK’s films, but there’s just something about most of his films that I don’t particularly care for. Maybe the somewhat sexist approach towards women, as in viewing women as merely sex objects. Also, I think RK’s films tend to go overboard when depicting misery and suffering. A Pather Panchali can be more effective than an Aah or Aag, mainly because it isn’t quite so melodramatic.

    Sharmi: Do watch! It is an interesting comment on the double standards of society. The series of vignettes is a very effective way of putting the message across, I think. This goes on my list, along with Chori Chori, as a favourite RK film!

    ash: Yes, I just realised that I’ve actually never reviewed an RK film on my blog before. And even though I don’t care for RK, I definitely watch his films. Chalo, must rewatch and review Andaz someday, that’s in my pile of films too.

    You are so right about Motilal! He’s enough reason by himself to watch any film.


  6. bollywoodeewana: I was thinking just the other day about films that are squeezed into a few hours. Couldn’t think of those many, but here are some: Jaagte Raho and Ittefaq, of course; Anokhi Raat, and (among later films) Ek Ruka Hua Faisla and Kaun. Among English-language films, an excellent one I can remember is the Hitchcock-James Stewart film, Rope.


  7. Hi Madhulika,
    Thanks for this very nice review of a much loved movie. You know I for one am a Raj Kapoor lover, so even from a non-lover, such bonanzas are a pleasure!
    You write: “there are moments when I felt like hitting him on the head. Firstly, when someone is that thirsty, he wouldn’t waste a single opportunity to drink some water. Which is exactly what this man does”: I wonder whether you might like considering that the movie is a sort of dream, or a nightmare, and that in that case, the rationality of normal behaviour sometimes disappears to the benefit of another logic, that of dreams.
    Well at least, that’s how I saw the movie, and it worked very well for me!


  8. I was surprised to see RK film here and that too Jaagte Raho of all his films. Somehow this is one film that never interested me. I actually wanted to see it for Motilal and Zindagi khwaab hai . It was coming on tv one day and I sat down to see but there was a power-cut and I missed a part of it. I tried watching the rest of it..but everything appeared so disjoint (maybe that’s coz I missed the flow) that I got bored and changed the channel. But if you count it among your favourite RK films then I would definitely want to give it another try.


  9. Raj Kapoor always strikes me as one of those wind-up toys with a key at the back – wind up the toy, and out comes Raju-the-tramp, complete with Chaplin-walk and nasal whine! It’s the kind of thing I found rather cute as a kid (at least in Shree 420), but outgrew very fast. And “the Villager” seems to be giving full rein to all those annoying mannerisms. It’s very rare for RK to forget his one-trick-acting, and Chori Chori and Do Ustad are the only two exceptions to that rule, that I’ve seen. So, even for Motilal and Pahadi Sanyal (did he do any other Hindi film?) this is highly unlikely to go on my to-watch list anytime soon, which is a pity, since it seems like a very interesting film.


  10. Yves: I think you have a point: treating the entire episode as a sort of nightmare is probably the only way to get past those seeming lapses in logic. I suppose I was being a bit too literal…

    sunheriyaadein: Jaagte Raho can be a bit confusing if you haven’t watched it all through. Also, because of the somewhat unusual structure: the story isn’t one story, but a series of vignettes, so if you miss even one of them, it affects your viewing of the film. I’d say give it another shot sometime!

    bollyviewer: I’ve actually seen Pahadi Sanyal only in one other film, and that’s The Householder. But I think he’s much better in Jaagte Raho.
    I can’t bear that wind-up toy act of RK’s, either. Puts me off every time. Jaagte Raho is a little better in that respect, because the villager isn’t really a tramp, and since he has almost no dialogues, that nasal twang is mercifully missing. No, don’t go out of your way to look for this, but if you do come across it somewhere, give it a try. It’s certainly one of the better RK films.


  11. DO our man the big guy Pahadida aka Narendranath Sanyal has done a good job in the all the 5 musicals I have seen namely-

    Dharti (1970)

    Aradhana (1969)

    Saathi (1968)

    Mamta (1966)

    Nai Roshni (1967)

    One era of his films I am dying to see are from the 30’s and the 40’s, he did many Hindi movies and he did quite a few playback singing also around that time, truly a man of all seasons and a chip of da ol block .)

    After 1945s we see mostly Bengali Bhasha movies.



  12. Oh dear, I’m feeling rather embarrassed – except for Dharti, I’ve seen all the films you’ve listed, but I don’t remember Pahadi Sanyal in any of them!

    I believe he also acted in the Bangla versions of Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam and Devdas.


  13. I think Raj Kapoor was a brilliant filmmaker, and his films contained scathing criticisms of the capitalist system (with a lot to say about its inherent corruption) that are still very pertinent today (and pertinent not just in India, either). But at the same time, those RK films never lost their entertainment value (with great song and dance, etc.). It was brilliant that his films could be so scathing and at the same time so entertaining. (Certainly, he was not the only classic Bollywood director/producer/actor to do this at the time – one thing I love about the Golden Age. But sometimes he did it better than anyone else.)

    Shree 420 was probably the film that put me to the point of no return in my obsession with classic Indian films. (Though Jis Desh… took me even further in that direction.) It’s also the one film that I’ve shown to people who were not Hindi film fans (in fact, who didn’t even know anything about Hindi films) that genuinely impressed them and made them want to see more classic Bollywood.

    I’ve never seen Jaagte Raho, but I would like to, and it does seem very interesting. (I knew all about the plot before, but you described it well, and that helps me to want to see it even more.)

    And, by the way, I think Yves’ comment is interesting… Personally, I just don’t demand that characters or actors always behave according to the most traditionally realistic standards or expectations… “Realism” on the surface isn’t always that essential, especially if a work conveys a greater reality underneath.


  14. Oh hota hai DO esp the Golden Era where we had so many artists and most of them came in quite a lot of movies that we tend to forget their names and faces, but am sure if yu see any of the movies I mentioned yu will spot hi… that’s our man ! .)

    In all movies he had a prominent role.

    Btw pls refresh the Bengali name for Devdas, was it Dui Nari?, Sahib Bibi version I am aware of but the other does not ring a bell.

    And see here, I do not re call him in The Householder 1963, I watched this a year ago, so I will also have to reboot my memory also .)
    Ta Ta


  15. So you finally did Jaagte Raho…. :) This one is a special, though I also liked Aawara etc. (the earlier movies with a chonchlist theme…) and I think the little cameo by Moti Lal was also one of the USPs of the movie…

    I think RK overdid at times, but still he did look a bechara simpleton and the expressions of his eyes were commendable… (I believe RK was better than DK, and Save Anand was the best of the trio as far as I am concerned :) )

    There were some movies (all 50s I guess) where RK underplayed, and he was fabulous… Chori-Chori, for example… something happened to him later I guess…. :)


  16. Same here. Am not a RK fan. It’s too obvious he thinks he is a good actor. I liked him better as a director. Over the top, but with a fantastic sense of story-telling and music and spectacle. Haven’t seen ‘Jaagte Raho’. Interesting concept. I always thought that the Motilal song was part of a story, didn’t realize that the story goes on in the same vein.


  17. Richard: Shree 420 happens to be one of the other Raj Kapoor films that I like, along with Chori Chori (which I must admit to not generally thinking of as a Raj Kapoor film – the entire feel of that film is much more mainstream, the sort of film Shammi Kapoor or Dev Anand would have done, not Raj Kapoor). But even in Shree 420, Raj Kapoor’s Chaplinesque tramp gets on my nerves!

    I have to get around to seeing Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, someday soon…

    ash: Sorry, my bad. Pahari Sanyal acted in the 1936 Devdas, which starred K L Saigal in the title role. Now that I’ve had a look at Pahari Sanyal’s imdb profile, I see that he acted in a number of hit Bangla films (including Deep Jwele Jai, Saptapadi, Harano Sur and Pathey Holo Deri), all of them on my wishlist. Must see much more of him, I liked him so much in both Jaagte Raho and The Householder!

    Hero Heera Lal: I like that ‘bechara simpleton’ appellation! ;-) I think he’s a little subdued in Jaagte Raho, which was why I found him bearable. A film like Chhalia or Dulha-Dulhan, in both of which he plays the tramp to the hilt, isn’t quite my cup of tea.

    Banno: I agree with you completely re: RK the actor versus RK the director. He’s definitely better behind the camera than in front of it. Interestingly, the director of Jaagte Raho isn’t RK – the film was directed by Shombhu Mitra and Amit Maitra.


  18. Most of us seem to have the same problem with Raj Kapoor. I couldn’t watch shri 420 till the end.

    But lately I have seen some of his films and have begun to not mind his irritating msnnerisms.

    Jagte Raho is a film I had heard so much of from my older brother. And I could never bring myself to watch it.

    Thanks DO for the review. With this and my changed feelings for him I think I will watch it,definitely.

    Some of the films which made me not mind him are;
    Teesri Kasam
    Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai – like in Jagte Raho, he’s good but not throughout, occasionaly he falls back into those irritating mannerisms. But yes, his eyes sho a kind ofinnocence here which is sweet.

    chori chori


  19. pacifist, thank you for those recommendations! Others have recommended Teesri Kasam and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai to me too, so will probably make it a point to see those sometime. Chori Chori is anyway one of my favourites, and Andaaz I think of more as a Dilip Kumar film than an RK film! Depressing, but memorable.


  20. Ha ha! A “wind-up toy” actor perfectly describes RK. But this one contains so many other actors that I have GOT TO SEE IT. They will more than make up for him, methinks. I love Andaz, but despite RK (it’s Dilip’s and Nargis’ film all the way).


  21. Yes, it’s Iftekhar, Pahari Sanyal, Nemo, Motilal, et al who are really more the stars of the film – RK, even though he is the protagonist, is rather more subdued. Actually, come to think of it, this isn’t a film where there’s any single hero or heroine. A lot of people share equal screen time. Do see; it’s very good.


  22. Rk, RK, RK!!!!!!!!!
    He has so many facets! But he never appealed me as a leading man in the films.
    Somehow I never managed to get a dekho at this film, though it was aired quite often on DD in the 80s. After reading yours and Phillips reveiws I must say I’m not really tempted to watch this one. The theme though sounds good, I’m sure RK would get on my nerves.
    As to his expressions, it is so hard to watch the 50s films with todays eyes. In the 50s the directors did lay stress on the rainbow of emotions and expressions,w hich has to waft over the face. And most of the actors and actresses were quite adept at it. Take Nalini Jaywant for e.g., Some of her facial expressions would make a modern viewer laugh!

    BTW you can put up Jaago Mohan pyaare to your ‘sparse’ bhajan list.


  23. Hi everyone,
    Just one thing about RK as a “wind-up toy”, as Bollyviewer nastily says – This persona was something which he used only for a time. Before we categorise him too quickly, like I see it done here, check out Aag, where this persona is not yet played out, and then for example Sangam, where he has abandoned it. Okay, RK sometimes overused his Chaplinesque trick, but he could have chosen a worse model! And who in those days was as much as he was a genuine creator?
    Jagte Raho is an allegory, a parable if you want. It’s like a chased man’s nightmare, who cannot reach what he would like to reach, freedom, love and balance. The title’s meaning “Stay awake!” should jolt us in realizing the necessity of looking further than appearances!
    (For those who care to go a bit further: http://www.letstalkaboutbollywood.com/article-16229870.html)

    Oh, and I too warmly recommend Teesri Kasam! No trace of Chaplin there either.


  24. Yves, I do apologise for calling RK a “wind-up toy” (and incidently, making other commenters agree to my nomenclature). But then I wasn’t to know that it would be taken so personally! As far as “nasty” goes, if I ever elaborate on my thoughts about Raj Kapoor’s “artistic” films, his depictions of “female beauty”, and his much vaunted “socialism”, then you’d really have cause to call me nasty!


  25. Hmm, looking back at this post, and I found it interesting to see this hostile comment about Raj Kapoor’s “socialism” (quote from original comment :) )… Bollyviewer, did you put that in quotes because you think of his socialism as having been fake? Or is it his social attitudes in general, characterized often as being socialistic (a characterization that I would go along with, based on several films that I saw and loved), that you find so disagreeable? I’m curious about this… Though I am not interested in getting into any dragged out debate on political philosophies, please. :)

    And to be clearer about this, let me add that when I think about the Raj Kapoor socialism that I love, I think most about Shree 420. That movie’s depiction of corrupt capitalism is incredibly pertinent to the present day – even or especially here in the west – considering the social/economic tendencies that led to the current Great Recession. I cannot imagine people disagreeing with that film’s critique of capitalism, but people do have different perspectives, of course. :)

    It is true that I do not always find his social philosophy to be as clear or consistent. It might have been a litttle shakier in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (gorgeous film though it was). And sometimes I find it a bit difficult to relate to the heavy emphasis on nationalism, but that becomes more OK when I mentally put it in the context of the relatively newly independent India. Besides, in general, I would consider these minor quibbles, considering how much I admire the ambitiousness with which he always attempted to combine serious social criticism with delightful entertainment (at least during the Golden Age). I am especially appreciative of that combination when I consider so many films of more recent times – everywhere!


  26. His socialism is in quotes because I always thought his films never went against the prevailing current. He was “socialist” only when the country was, and when socialism would sell! (One might as well acclaim a Soviet film maker for extolling the virtues of communism!) Had he retained his socialism – or even any political sentiment – in the 70s, for example (when the government was cracking down on socialists while introducing the word in the constitution) I would buy it as genuine. As far as mixing socialism and entertainment goes, he wasn’t the only one. I prefer B. R. Chopra’s films since he lays off the sexism (and soft porn) which makes me see red in RK films.


  27. bollyviewer: You needn’t apologise for going off on a tangent (or for anyone-bashing!) – not on my blog. As long as we can sort out our differences without flying into a tizzy (and you, Richard and Yves are certainly not trolls), I see nothing wrong in some healthy debate.

    Incidentally, the sexism that you talk about in RK’s films is among the main irritants as far as I’m concerned. His showing up of corruption and hypocrisy in urban capitalism, at least, is something I agree with. I do not, though, think of RK as being the most appropriate poster boy for Indian Socialism in Cinema. As Yves mentions, the Chaplinesque persona is restricted only to some of RK’s films, and I think the same can be said of his socialism: a Shree 420 or Jaagte Raho or even an Anari or Awara is socialist, but an Anhonee, Aah or Sangam isn’t. I would’ve thought directors like Bimal Roy or Guru Dutt would’ve been better suited to being considered the ‘socialist’ filmmakers of Hindi cinema.


  28. Dustedoff, since you don’t mind the tangent, let me take up a little more space with it :) …

    I have to admit that I couldn’t get through Sangam and one of the reasons is that it was a rather different kind of film from my favorite Raj Kapoor movies, and much of the time, relatively speaking, I felt as though I was watching some playground for the rich (much like watching Hollywood or latter-day Bollywood). But RK brings back the socialist message somewhat in Mera Naam Joker, made in 1971.

    RK’s socialism in the films where it exists does seem heartfelt. Whatever his true motives might have been (certainly a matter of subjective speculation?), I think that in his best films, he conveys that message very effectively.

    I guess we all might have our different opinions regarding whom to consider the socialist “poster boys” of Hindi cinema. It’s true, RK was not the only one. (Let’s not forget the guy with the hammer and sickle in his logo – even if he did go a bit astray in movies like Aan. :) )


  29. As mentioned earlier I have started appreciating (or tolerating) Raj Kapoor lately.
    The reason I didn’t before this was exactly because of his Chaplinesqueness, and sexism.
    He isn’t the former in many films I have realised, and the latter was in his later films like Satyam Shivum Sundaram etc.
    He didn’t act in these films.


  30. Richard: I’m so glad you took up my offer of stretching the tangent as far as it’ll go! :-)

    I agree re: Sangam: it really strikes me more as a film that a Shammi Kapoor or a Shashi Kapoor would’ve done. But then RK does have other films of a similar kind. Around the World, for example, is also pretty much a ‘playground of the rich’ film…

    Oh, but the guy with the hammer and sickle logo didn’t go totally astray in Aan!!: even though much of the film seems to focus on a sort of Indianised taming of the shrew, there’s more than a passing nod to the Indian people’s movement. Might’ve been a more effective creative take on the movement if they’d been able to resist all that jazz…

    pacifist: And Ram Teri Ganga Maili! I actually have never been able to summon up the willpower to see that film through. Maybe a song here or a song there, but never all of it.


  31. To Bollyviewer (and the others),

    OK, no hard feelings of course concerning what you said. Perhaps “nasty” was too harsh.
    Concerning what you say about RK’s political opportunism, I don’t know, but it seems that indeed an Indian actor (who remains an actor whatever his political involvement) would find it easier to lift up the banner of the prevailing political party than risk opposing it. And that RK probably did that doesn’t necessarily reduce his socialist commitment to zero.
    The question of the political role of artists has been a continuous one ever since antiquity, anyway. And naturally in the perspective of the XXth century ideologies, it has attracted a lot of attention.
    I remember having discussed these ideas when reviewing Tin deewarein by Nagesh Kukunoor. And one can also think of Mani Ratnam or Shyam Benegal in that respect too!


  32. When Raj Kapoor was on his death bed, a cobbler travelled all the way from (if I remember correctly) Gujarat to Delhi in order to pay his last respect. When asked why he had spent his earnings on such a journey, the man -referring to RK’s movie, Bootpolish – replied: “He (RK) gave dignity to our profession.”

    That to me is the greatest tribute anyone could have paid to the filmamker who despite all the flaws made some really great movies and songs that haunt us till date.


  33. RK just didn’t act in the film but probably co-directed it. The evidences are at the links
    http://tiff.net/filmsandschedules/tiffbelllightbox/2011/201104260056702 &
    i don’t say that RK ghost directed the movie, bu we can’t deny RK’s involvement in the making of this classic film. Though sombhu and amit mitra are in the tradition of bengali art films, RK teamed with them. RK’s involvement in the insertion of songs in the film can’t be denied. It was the “producer raj kapoor” who insisted serious film-makers to mix emotion & sentimentality along with REALISM.


    • Sombhu Mitra is India’s only Magsaysay winner from the field of theatre and is one of the biggest , if not the biggest name in Indian theatre. To put it simply, in the field of theatre, he is no less than what Raj Kapoor is in the field of cinema. Raj Kapoor, himself coming from a strong theatre background was aware of all this and that’s why you see he didn’t interfere with most of the unusual choices that Mitra and Moitra made in the film. Otherwise the likes of Motilal, Pahadi Sanyal, Sumitra Debi, Salil Choudhury, Sandhya Mukherjee etc; great as they were, were never taken by Raj Kapoor in any of his other productions; simply because they weren’t part of his ‘team’. But Here RK didn’t question the choices the duo made. And Thank God for that.

      Unfortunately, In India, everything works on hype, marketing and propaganda. The higher pedestal given to Hindi cinema and its stars from 50’s onwards and the incessant marketing of the same has ensured that , for most Indians, it is these stars that hog away all the limelight and the credit, reducing a truly global talent like Shambu Mitra to remain as an unrecognised and unsung genius in his own country. That uiowa article written by our ‘ Videshi Bandhu’ is but an outcome of the same hype and propaganda.

      As far as the mixing of emotion & sentimentality with realism goes, this was being done by the filmmakers of New Theatres Calcutta ( whom Raj Kapoor admired) long before the advent of RK films. Even among his contemporaries, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Tapan Sinha and co did it and more often than not did it better than RK. Don’t get me wrong, I am a RK fan and place him among the top 10 greatest film personalities India ever produced. But fandom doesn’t give a license or a leeway to sacrifice truth, and hence I choose to spoke.


  34. madhu, I have a question, I wanna know that amongst all the stalwarts of the golden era, you’ve reviewd eveyone’s films but the frquency with raj kapoor’s films is quite low as expected from his fame. Reason behind this?? and what’s the prime reason for your not liking of his films


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