6 comments on “Five for Raj’s Birthday

  1. I’d put Aaja sanam madhur chaandni mein hum as one of my favourite Raj Kapoor songs (which is saying a lot, since I typically don’t much care for RK – not his acting, not his songs, not his face)! But some of the other songs of his that I happen to like include Woh subaah kabhi toh aayegi and Aasmaan pe hai khuda, both from Phir subah hogi and Mud-mud ke na dekh from Shree 420.

  2. Hi, Dustedoff. I originally had “Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh” on this list, but I decided that was in the “posted too much” category. Or, if I didn’t post it many more times than some of the others (I’m not sure right now), I’ve certainly watched it too much!

    Shree 420 is one of my two favorite Raj Kapoor films of all time. The other is Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai. I also would put them in my top five Hindi films of all time. (I have that list I put together on another page, and they are in the top five, sometimes the top two. I vary the ranks and order, but that’s not important; let’s just say I love these films.)

    I guess Awara would be up there too if I ever saw it fully. (I have yet to see Awara with subtitles and everything. But I’ve seen some of it online without subs and I’ve seen the songs so often… I guess I never felt that much of an urgency to see it, maybe because I think of it as being so similar to Shree 420, which I’ve watched a couple of times.)

    Chori Chori certainly is up there too…

    I’m not even familiar with Phir Subah Hogi. But I’m starting to check out the songs, and they are very nice.

    I do like Raj Kapoor just fine. I know there are a couple of bloggers out there who disagree. :) Oh, well… I don’t think everything he did was perfect (you know I didn’t care for Barsaat – except for Lata’s voice!), but he did some great things as a director and sometimes as an actor. And I am very fond of some of his social messages. (At least the socialist aspect, sticking up for the poor and downtrodden – I think Raj was very genuine about that. There was maybe a bit too much nationalism in some of his work for my tastes, but of course, that was important for the time and place.)

    He also found some of the best leading ladies… I guess it’s clear why I picked the second song on this list… I think Padmini’s dancing was just fantastic in Mera Naam Joker. But Raj also did very nicely in songs like this one. (I like the fact that they both were a bit older, yet they still gave a performance in this number that was as great as most of what they did when they starred together 8 or 10 years earlier.)

  3. Even though I don’t much care for RK, I agree with you re: some of the great things he did as an actor and a director – sticking up for the downtrodden, for instance (which, to be fair to other film-makers of the period, was I think a much more common theme in Hindi cinema during the 50’s than it is now). My favourite RK films are Chori Chori (I love the music, and RK’s character is more likeable – I can’t bear his Chaplinesque imitations!) and Shree 420. Shree 420 also has one particular scene which I noticed the last time I watched the film, and which became an ‘A-ha!’ moment for me, a sudden revelation of just how good an actor this man could be. He’s at the party, tux and all, and is talking to Maya (Nadira) when he shows her how he can change personas. He puts his palm in front of his eyes and sweeps it down his face, his expression changing brilliantly as his hand travels swiftly down. Wow.

    Phir subah hogi is another of the socialist-themed films, rather depressing from what I remember of it. But the songs are fabulous!

  4. Dustedoff,

    Yes it’s true that ’50s Hindi films in general paid much more attention to the poor and downtrodden…and criticized the system and had more social relevance than much of what comes out today. That’s one of the many reasons I became most interested in the films from that era (along with all the other reasons that it was the Golden Age). The socialist aspect also is an attraction for me in some of the even older films from the ’40s. I know that some very old films in the U.S.had more of this focus too (you might know more about that than I do :) , but most of the stuff coming out of Hollywood for so long has been so individualistic (in the worst sense of the word) and/or so void of intelligent social consciousness, that I find the old Hindi films provide a welcome contrast (once again, for that and many other reasons).

    I think at times, though, Raj Kapoor’s films provided sharper social satire and more universally applicable critiques than most. I said a lot about Shree 420 in this blog earlier in its history :), back in the spring of 2008. I might go back to those posts and talk about that some more in another comment…

    Anyway, I’m glad you admit that Raj Kapoor was a fine actor sometimes. :)

    And your two favorite RK films could be two of my three favorite RK films. (I do love Mera Naam Joker too, but of course, the Padmini segment had a lot to do with that. Needless to say, she was a big factor in making Jis Desh… my number one or two RK film too.) Anyway, if Chori Chori isn’t one of my top two, it could be one of my top three…

    I agree, the music was great. So was the dancing! Well, there were actually only two great dance scenes in that which I can remember, but they were among the best in any Hindi movie that I’ve seen. One was the scene of Kamala Lakshman doing the bharatanatyam. It has nothing to do with the central plot; I recall that it’s just a performance that Pran is watching as part of his affluent lifestyle. So, it comes out of nowhere and you don’t expect it, but it really is one of the finest bharatanatyam dances that I’ve seen in any film. Then there’s the dance by Sai-Subbulaxmi at the Nargis character’s unwanted wedding, which was also great and equally unexpected… People complain about item numbers not having any real connection to the plot, but the flip side of this is that it can be a very nice surprise to have a great performance in a film that’s unexpected, coming out of nowhere.

    Of course, the puppet scene is so much fun too! I mean, Raj Kapoor and Nargis were not like Vyjayanthimala in Kath Putli so there’s no reason even to expect great dancing here, but they played that scene really well; it certainly was a classic!

  5. Phil, you’re welcome! I admit it’s been a while since I spent time at your Eastern Eye sight – I mean site – so I’ll have to catch up on the good music sometime soon.

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