Raj Kapoor Marriage: The Showman, His Loyal Wife, And Unrequited Love

The legendary Raj Kapoor goes by many names, including: ’Charlie Chaplin of Indian Cinema’, ‘The Greatest Showman of Indian Cinema’, or just ‘The Showman’. No matter what the moniker, the fact is that he was a pioneering Indian filmmaker, is often touted as the original trend-breaker of Bollywood.

Kapoor’s films have always been a reflection of society at given points of time, but have always retained a ‘showcase’ element, which challenged the set norms of the era. It is then no wonder that Raj Kapoor broke new grounds in his films, providing opportunities to some of the most popular faces in Indian cinema in the process. He gave major breaks to many actresses in Bollywood, and was linked with a few as well – despite being a married man himself. So who were these women in his life? Let’s take a look.

Raj Kapoor – A Filmmaker With A Difference

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Raj Kapoor, born 14th December 1924, was the blue-eyed boy of the Kapoor Khandaan, considering he was the son of legendary stage and film actor Prithviraj Kapoor. Although Raj was born in Peshawar, (now in Pakistan, then a part of undivided India), he received most of his education all across different parts of the country since his father was a touring stage actor. Kapoor was always inclined towards filmmaking, and thus quit his studies during his teenage years to work as an assistant in film studios.

In 1944, he joined his father’s company, Prithvi theatre, where he worked as an actor and also as the backstage manager. Although he was working in films simultaneously, his big break came with the film Neel Kamal (1947) in which he shared screen space with Madhubala. The film was a massive hit, and in 1948 he started his own film company called RK Films, and became the youngest director and producer of that era with his company’s first film Aag (1948). The year 1949 saw the release of the love triangle potboiler Andaz in which he starred with Nargis and Dilip Kumar. The film was a success, and it sealed his image as a successful actor and filmmaker. After Andaz came a slew of films from his production company, notable among them were Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Chori Chori (1956), Jagte Raho (1956) and Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960). He continued making films through the 1970s and 1980s, with most of his films challenging existing norms and notions of society, sometimes even making them too advanced for their time.

Raj Kapoor suffered from Asthma from the early 1980s onwards, and by the later half of the decade, his condition worsened. He collapsed on stage while receiving the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1988, and had to be rushed to the hospital where he spent the next month recovering. Sadly, his condition barely improved, and Raj Kapoor breathed his last on 2 June 1988 at the age of 63.

The Arranged Marriage

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Raj Kapoor had an arranged marriage at the age of 22 with a 16-year old girl named Krishna Malhotra in 1946. Krishna was the cousin of Prithviraj Kapoor, and she was the senior Kapoor’s maternal uncle’s daughter, the sister of actors Rajendranath and Premnath. Incidentally, the aforementioned duo starred in many of Raj Kapoor’s films.

The match was an arranged one, and Krishna was everything that the Kapoor family sought – namely, she was traditional and conservative. For this reason, she stayed in the shadows for the most part, and was the inconspicuous supporter of her husband in all his quests and aspirations. Raj Kapoor and Krishna Kapoor were blessed with five children: three sons Randhir, Rishi and Rajiv; and two daughters Ritu Nanda and Rima Jain.

His Affair With Nargis

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Raj Kapoor and Nargis met for the first time during the making of the film Andaz in the year 1949. It is said that Kapoor fell for Nargis the moment he saw her, and that marked the beginning of a partnership that spanned 16 films. Nargis became a common fixture in almost all of Kapoor’s films in the 1950s, since she was equally smitten by Kapoor and thus would give a nod right away to any of his films.

In fact she was so infatuated with Kapoor that she did not mind marrying him and playing second fiddle in his life. She even consulted several leading legal experts of that era to find some means to tie the knot to a married man. But all her efforts were in vain because in spite of all the fondness the couple shared, Raj Kapoor was not willing to leave his wife and five children to tie the knot with Nargis. By the mid-1950s, Kapoor had made this point to Nargis, and the film Chori Chori in 1956 was the last one they did together.

Nargis is said to have slipped into depression after this revelation, and it is then that she happened to meet actor Sunil Dutt with whom she tied the knot in 1958. It is said that Raj Kapoor was so dejected on hearing the news of Sunil and Nargis’ marriage that he locked himself in his room, and cried for hours together.

Other Link-ups And Life Thereafter

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After Nargis, Kapoor was linked with the actress Padmini who appeared in Kapoor’s Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960) and Mera Naam Joker (1970), but it turned out to be the grapevine at work, and the matter fizzled out. Later in 1964, Kapoor was said to be seeing the actress Vyjayanthimala who had appeared in his film Sangam in 1964. It is said that Kapoor secretly married Vyjayanthimala during the making of the film, which left Krishna Kapoor so disturbed that she left their house, taking the children with her, and lived in a hotel for many a day. Later though, Vyjayanthimala denied the news as hearsay, and in fact shared that the affair was a fabricated by Kapoor himself for the publicity of the film.

She made her expositions in her autobiography in the year 2007, which left the Kapoor clan fuming, despite which Vyjayanthimala stood her ground. It is interesting to note though that Vyjayanthimala last worked with Kapoor in Sangam, and refused to work with him again – a fact which brought support to her ‘publicity stunt’ revelations. Either way Raj Kapoor never had any other liaison like he did with Nargis, and perhaps she was the only woman after his wife he loved the most.

In the later years of his life, Raj Kapoor got into semi-retirement mode to spend some quality time with his wife Krishna. It is said that he was working for redemption for all the wrong he had unknowingly meted out to his true soulmate. In fact, when Kapoor was being led to the hospital after collapsing on stage, he slipped into a coma before uttering the words, “Krishna, I’m going, goodbye, goodbye!” It was even in his final moments that he could not forsake his wife, which testified his intense respect and affection towards her. Kapoor left quite a legacy, and it is no wonder when his son, actor and filmmaker, Rajiv Kapoor was compared to his father, he humbly said, “Nobody can be compared to Raj Kapoor. There will never be a legend like him again.” We tend to agree.

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