By Anindita Mukherjee Last Updated:
“Pyar hua ikrar huya hain, pyar se phir kyu darta hain dil? Kehta hain dil rasta mushkil, maloom nahi hain kahan manzil….”
Just imagine: You and your loved one alone on a semi-deserted road. It’s almost dusk and it starts drizzling. Only by chance, you have one umbrella with you (that too, a polka-dotted or a completely black one). Now re-imagine the entire scenario and play the aforementioned song on your mind. Felt butterflies inside your stomach? Yes? Good…This is what Raj Kapoor did to us!
Right from the beginning of his career, Raj Kapoor didn’t fail to mesmerise his audience with his skills and acting. As his son Rishi Kapoor put in his autobiography Khullam Khulla:
“My father, Raj Kapoor, was 28 years old and had already been hailed as the ‘showman of Hindi cinema’ four years before.”
While Raj Kapoor was widely appreciated for his honour and skills, he had no escape from his link-ups with different actresses of his times, despite being a married man with 5 children. Here, the most prominent one being with the beautiful Nargis. For the next few minutes, let me take you on a journey of the man with a happy life but a ‘broken heart’.
Raj Kapoor was born to legendary stage and film actor, Prithviraj Kapoor on December 14, 1924. From an early age, Raj travelled with his father and received education from various parts of the country. He was associated with theatre and stage from a very early stage in his life and developed a keen interest to pursue the same.
Raj quit his studies during his teenage and started to work as an assistant in film studios. He joined his father’s company in 1944 and worked as an actor and backstage manager. His first big break came with the movie Neel Kamal in 1947 where he shared screen space with superstar Madhubala. Post that, there was no looking back for Raj Kapoor.
After the humongous success of Neel Kamal, he started his own film company ‘RK Films’ whose emblem is still the most-talked about and relevant to his ‘love-life’ until this day. Raj went on to become the youngest director and producer of that era with the first film produced by his company Aag (1948). In the next year, his company released another story Andaz which starred Nargis and Dilip Kumar. The film was a massive hit and thus it reserved his seat in the industry as a successful actor and filmmaker. After Andaz, he produced, directed, acted in a series of films under his company’s banner. Some of the films which marked the beginning of the legend were Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Chori Chori (1956), Jagte Raho (1956) and Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960). Raj Kapoor’s vision of films was a whole different world altogether. At times, he was also shunned for making films ahead of his times.
Raj Kapoor married Krishna Malhotra at the age of 22 in 1946. Krishna Kapoor, as she was later called, was a quiet and conservative person. This is the reason she remained behind-the-scenes all the time. Krishna was Raj Kapoor’s father, the late Prithviraj Kapoor’s maternal uncle’s daughter. They had an arranged marriage and selflessly supported Raj Kapoor throughout his career. Together they have 5 children- Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Rajiv Kapoor and two daughters Ritu Nanda and Rima Jain.
Speaking about her parent’s relationship, Rima Jain once shared in an interview with Filmfare:
“No matter what was said and written, Papa loved mother deeply. The truth is that all life he remained obsessed with her. He may not have expressed it to her the way she’d have liked him to. She may not have been a big part of his life. But whatever Raj Kapoor did, he came back home. His love for her was immense. He’d even press her legs and joke, ‘Raj Kapoor ka kya haal bana diya! Meri biwi mujhe pair dabane lagaa rahi hai. Ghar ki murgi dal barabar!’ He loved celebrating New Years because it also happened to be mom’s birthday.”
“He was also a man in love – at the time, unfortunately, with someone other than my mother. His girlfriend was the leading lady of some of his biggest hits of the time, including Aag (1948), Barsaat (1949) and Awara (1951).”
These lines were written by Raj Kapoor’s son Rishi Kapoor in his autobiography. Love happened at first sight for Raj Kapoor and Nargis on the sets of Andaz. Nargis was already a superstar back then and had 8 superhit films in her bag. Smitten by her beauty, Raj immediately fell for Nargis and she too, reciprocated. Rest is all history.
Nargis and Raj Kapoor had been in constant companionship both professionally and personally for 16 years. As per records, Nargis was hell-bent on marrying Raj even after knowing that this was legally impossible as Raj was already married. Reportedly, she had consulted the finest of lawyers to seek legal guidance if it was by any means possible to marry an already married man. However, this didn’t work out and the two parted ways. Chori Chori (1956) is the last film that they did together.
Post his separation from Nargis, Raj Kapoor was paired with many other actresses of that era. Padmini from Mera Naam Joker was one of the first link-ups he had after parting ways with Nargis. He was also linked with Vyjantimala and Zeenat Aman. If rumours were to be believed, Raj Kapoor had married Vyjantimala secretly. When Vyjantimala was asked about it, she said that it was a ‘mere publicity stunt for the promotion of their upcoming movie’. This led to a huge tiff with his wife Krishna Kapoor who had left Raj along with her children and started staying in a hotel and later shifted to another home which Raj had built for his family. Rishi Kapoor opened up on his father’s link-up with Vyjantimala and wrote:
“I remember moving into the Natraj Hotel on Marine Drive with my mom during the time Papa was involved with Vyjayanthimala. From the hotel, we shifted for two months into an apartment in Chitrakoot. My father had bought the apartment for Mom and us. He did all he could to woo her back, but my mother wouldn’t give in until he had ended that chapter of his life.”
He further wrote:
“She had no right to distort facts just because he was no longer around to defend the truth. But I can say with absolute certainty that if Papa had been alive, she wouldn’t have denied the affair so blatantly or called him publicity hungry.”
In spite of so many link-ups and quite a serious relationship with Nargis, Krishna became an exemplary of perseverance. She didn’t leave her husband and remained stoic to all challenges. Once, when Raj, Nargis and Krishna met at a party, Nargis confessed to Krishna that she was the sole reason for bringing all the storms in her life and apologised for the same. To which the wonder-woman forgave Nargis and replied,
“If I will not be there, then someone else will be”.
Raj Kapoor was head-in-heels love with Nargis and vice-versa. Nargis agreed to marry Raj even after knowing the fact that he was a happily married man. But, he was not ready to leave his wife and children to go on and marry Nargis. He made it clear to Nargis in mid-1950’s post which they parted ways and the duo never worked together.
Nargis slipped into depression after her split with Raj Kapoor. It was only on the sets of Mother India, when Nargis met Sunil Dutt who played her on-screen son and later became her husband in real life. She found solace with Sunil Dutt and she would share her feelings with him without feeling scared of being judged. It was also said that Raj Kapoor was very upset to hear about her relationship with Sunil Dutt and was disturbed by the fact that Nargis did not consult him before taking up the Mother India but, they had already broken up by then.
In one of her works, Indian author and columnist, Kishwar Desai quoted a line from Nargis’s personal diary in her book Darlingji - 'the true love story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt’ where Nargis had written:
"If it were not for him [Sunil,Dutt], perhaps I would have ended my life before the 8th of March. For I alone know the turmoil that was going through me. 'I want you to live,' he said and I felt I had to live. Begin all over again".
Raj was left in a state of shock, despair and was heart-broken when she heard of Nargis getting married to Sunil Dutt. He took it as a stage of betrayal from Nargis when she was only moving on in her life. Krishna Kapoor once shared in an interview:
“Night after night he would come home drunk and collapse in the bathtub weeping”.
The legendary Raj Kapoor breathed his last on June 2, 1980. He collapsed on the stage while receiving the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and was immediately rushed to the hospital. He fought with life and death for the next month but soon passed away at the age of 63. He would say that he wanted his epitaph to read:
‘Here's a man who only wished to love'.
Watch this heart-warming video where Raj Kapoor is singing Awaara Hoon to his adorable grandchildren Ranbir Kapoor and Riddhima Kapoor Sahni:
We can probably imagine to whom this epitaph was indicated. While Raj Kapoor and Nargis’s love story is a tragic one which didn’t materialise into something fruitful, what is commendable was the way Raj Kapoor, Krishna Kapoor and Nargis handled it and went on with their own lives. True, it is rightly said, “Love sees no boundaries and circumstances, if it has to happen, it happens”.