Raj Kapoor That eye for Talent

Raj Kapoor That eye for Talent

The late lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri, as one of the multiple discoveries of the original Showman who passed away on June 2, 1988, had once said, "Raj Kapoor could take out a great performance from even a statue!" Twenty-five years after Raj Kapoor achieved immortality, we focus on a rather lesser-known facet of this all-rounder actor-filmmaker: his unerring eye for new talent across all disciplines of cinema. And if some were his family members, rest assured that they too were eminently deserving of the breaks! We begin the list with a surprising inclusion: Raj Kapoor himself!

1. Raj Kapoor: Raj Kapoor started his production house with Aag (1947) in which he introduced himself as a director. Little did anyone know then that he was about to give Hindi cinema its biggest Showman and one of its finest directors who resonated with five generations of audiences and gave at least one super-hit for each decade – Barsaat (1949), Awara and Shree 420 ('50s), Sangam ('60s), Bobby ('70s) and Ram Teri Ganga Maili, his swan song and biggest-ever hit, in 1985. And yet with Raj Kapoor, it was not about just global success (beginning with Awara in 1951) as about cinematic excellence in a spectrum of cinema, which included producing the offbeat Boot Polish and Jaagte Raho. Unofficially, also the co-writer and co-composer in many of his films, Kapoor also introduced himself as an editor with Sangam and went on to deftly use the scissors in films like Mera Naam Joker, Bobby, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Prem Rog and Ram Teri Ganga Maili.

2. Allaudin: His work was no less magical than the famed genie of the lamp that shared his name. Beginning with Aag, the sound recordist- audiographer rose above the technologically-challenged eras to helm most RK banner films as well as some great movies outside, including Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Aashiq, Shailendra's acclaimed but ill-fated Teesri Kasam, Raj Khosla's Do Badan and M.S. Sathyu's Partition classic Garm Hawa.

3. Jal Mistry: Considered as one of the finest names in black-and-white as well as color, cinematographer Jal Mistry began with Barsaat (1949). His forte was giving moods and shades to his frames, at which he excelled in classics like Chetan Anand's Haqeeqat, Aakhri Khat, Heer Ranjha and Hanste Zakhm and Nasir Husain's Baharon Ke Sapne and even fun films like Mehmood's Bombay To Goa and Manmohan Desai's Naseeb.

4. Ramanand Sagar: The man behind the '80s TV epic Ramayana was introduced as writer in the game-changer super-hit Barsaat. A future filmmaker who made movies that he wrote himself like Ghunghat, Arzoo, Ankhen and Geet, Sagar also scripted blockbusters like Insaniyat, Paigham and Rajkumar.

5. Nimmi: The will-o'-the-wisp Nimmi made her mark as actress despite the presence of Nargis in Barsaat. She was the star of Sazaa, Daag (Dilip Kumar), Aan and Mere Mehboob.

6. Shankar-Jaikishan: To call the duo Raj Kapoor's foremost discoveries of all time, would be no exaggeration. Hindi cinema's greatest and most pioneering composers spearheaded the multi-billion music industry with Barsaat and also broke the existing musical grammar to set one that is followed even by today's tunesmiths. These erstwhile musicians with Prithvi Theaters and assistants in Aag ruled the industry for two decades.

7. Hasrat Jaipuri: The born romantic was a bus conductor when Kapoor heard him at a mushaira, and signed him on for a salary. So confident was he of the lyricist that he urged him to quit his job, though the lyricist hung on till his debut film Barsaat released!

8. Shailendra: Considered Hindi cinema's finest songwriter, this lyricist completes the musical quartet of Barsaat that became the pillars of RK Films (as well as most of Kapoor's outside films) till Mera Naam Joker.

9. Radhu Karmakar: Raj Kapoor began an unbroken association with this ace cinematographer with Awara that lasted till the end, including RK's Sangam, their first color film processed abroad in Technicolor. He even gave Karmakar the responsibility of directing Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai. The DoP also worked outside on Aman, Beimaan, Sanyasi and Love Story and even Kimi Katkar's debut Tarzan.

10. Taru Dutt: Introduced in Boot Polish, cinematographer Taru Dutt went on to make a mark not only in RK films like Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai and Kal Aaj Aur Kal but also in milestones like Janwar, Jab Jab Phool Khile and Brahmachari.

11. Jaywant Pathare: This long-term cinematographer of Hrishikesh Mukherjee (Anari, Asli Naqli, Anupama, Satyakam, Anand, Guddi, Abhimaan, Chupke Chupke, Golmaal) made his debut in the Raj Kapoor production Aah.

12. Raja Nawathe: He got a break as director in Aah after assisting Kapoor in earlier films. Though he made very few films, most of them (Basant Bahar, Gumnaam, Patthar Ke Sanam, Manchali) were landmarks.

13. Dattaram: This genius in percussion was Shankar-Jaikishan's assistant for a long while. Kapoor gave him a break as composer in the modest-budget Ab Dilli Door Nahin and he went on to compose hits in Parvarish, Zindagi Aur Khawb, Qaidi No. 911 and Balak.

14. Rishi Kapoor: After playing Raj Kapoor's teenage avatar in Mera Naam Joker, he became the national sensation with Bobby and stayed the romantic course for 20 years. Today, this world-class actor-son of Raj Kapoor is into a great new innings with varied roles worthy of his caliber.

15. Randhir Kapoor: Elder son Randhir Kapoor made a unique simultaneous debut as actor-director with Kal Aaj Aur Kal. Initially a successful star (Jawani Diwani, Haath Ki Safai, Chacha Bhatija), he proved his mettle as a director with Henna (1991) and also produced his father's last film.

16. Dimple Kapadia: She was, is and will always remain Bobby for most Hindi cinema buffs, never mind if she has evolved into a powerhouse actress since with turns as varied as Saagar, Rudaali and Dabangg.

17. Jainendra Jain: For Bobby, Kapoor also handpicked the famous Hindi film journalist and critic as writer. Jain went on to pen more triumphs – Sargam, Prem Rog, Woh 7 Din, Sanjog, Henna and Tere Naam.

18. Shailendra Singh: He was training to be an actor when he was discovered as playback singer in Bobby. Shailendra Singh became Rishi Kapoor's voice for a while, and got hits with and without Rishi Kapoor in films like Rafoo Chakkar, Khel Khel Mein, Tarana and more.

19. Narendra Chanchal: The Punjabi folk singer belted out Beshak mandir masjid todo in Bobby and even won an award. In his limited innings as a playback singer in Hindi cinema, Chanchal had chartbusters in Roti Kapada Aur Makaan, Benaam, Aasha and Avtaar.

20. Vitthalbhai Patel: Industrialist, politician and friend to Kapoor, this man with a liking for poetry turned lyricist with Na mangoon sona chandi and Jhoot bole kauwa kaate in Bobby and, though he never did a solo film, wrote standout lyrics in many movies like Sanyasi, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Biwi O Biwi and Dariya Dil.

Raj Kapoor That eye for Talent

21. Padmini Kolhapure: She was doing random films as a child singer and artiste till her impact-laden role as Zeenat Aman's childhood in Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Four years later, after some average runners and performances, Kapoor made her a big star with her award-winning portrayal in Prem Rog.

22. Suresh Wadkar: Despite hits in Gaman, Paheli (1978), Krodhi and more films, this fine playback singer was languishing till he became Rishi Kapoor's voice and sang four of the six hits of Prem Rog. After the giants, he is considered one of our finest male singers.

23. Mandakini: Despite her dare-all skin show in Ram Teri Ganga Maili as the allegory for the river Ganga, Mandakini remains a successful discovery of Raj Kapoor for the way the actress was lapped up by the industry and acted in over 40 films in less than 12 years!

24. K.K. Singh: The powerhouse writer was chosen by Kapoor for the pithy and incisive script and dialogues of Ram Teri Ganga Maili. He later went on to do equally intense writing in films like Sansar (1987), Tridev, Tirangaa and Krantiveer.

25. So many other names in the industry owe some or all of their success to the grooming they had under RK Films and Raj Kapoor personally as well. Directors R.K. Nayyar, Rahul Rawail, Anees Bazmee and Kuku Kohli, topnotch art directors Shanti Das, T.K. Desai and many other technicians, including art director Suresh Sawant who went on to films abroad, all began under that giant filmmaker and his banner.

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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