The most illustrious Bollywood identity, Raj Kapoor gave the world of cinema several successful movies. When anyone remembers Raj Kapoor, the first thing that comes to the mind is ‘The showman’. But, as they say, there is always a dark story in the most dazzling of careers and Mr. Raj Kapoor was not an exception.
Biggest setback for Raj Kapoor
The story starts with Raj Kapoor’s most famous movie “Mera Naam Joker”. Undoubtedly, the movie was a good piece of art and can be coined as movie ahead of its time. But it failed to achieve success at box-office post release and went on to become disastrous for Raj Kapoor’s fabulous film career. The audience and critics panned the film for its length and plot. If you have watched the movie you too will agree about the two intervals and the lengthy storyline followed by too much flashbacks. The movie managing to attain ‘cult status’ with the passage of time is a different story altogether.
The horrible performance of the movie led Raj Kapoor to financial crisis and debts. As the movie involved a huge cast and making expenses, Raj kapoor assets were mortgaged for the project. The cost of the movie can be calculated with the fact that it had included prominent actors of those times like Rajrendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Manoj Kumar, Paadmini and Simmi Gerewal along with Raj Kapoor himself. It took 6 years and a foreign shoot in Moscow to complete the movie. The failure of such a huge budgeted film boomeranged Raj Kapoor’s financial stability.
Pran helped Raj Kapoor
Even with those financial problems, Raj Kapoor wanted to create magic on silver screen with his projects. But as you know, every project needs finance and financial support. Raj Kapoor was very fragile to afford that finance post Mera naam Joker release. Determined in his thoughts, he still launched another project named Bobby. Raj Kapoor projected his own son Rishi Kapoor in lead role for the first time opposite to new comer Dimple Kapadia. The star cast was selected by considering the limited financial budget of the movie. According to reports, to raise the small budget required to make ends meet, Raj Kapoor put all of his wife’s jewellery and property on lease for the project.
Along with Rishi Kapoor, most of the actors in the movie were relatives of Raj Kapoor. Prem Nath playing the role of Jack Braganza was Raj Kapoor’s brother-in-law. Prem Chopra was Raj Kapoor’s cousin-in-law. The only character that whom Raj Kapoor was in search was that of protagonist’s father as he needed someone with very strong screen presence to do justice with the role. Pran upon being consulted by Raj Kapoor offered him to play any character for his up coming project. It was then that Pran was decided for the role.
It’s a famous story of B-town that Raj Kapoor and Pran were good friends. But, Ironically, the biggest hit of Raj Kapoor that has an unforgettable contribution of Pran ended their long friendship. 1970s was Pran’s era in a way. Pran’s fee used to be more than that of Amitabh Bachchan, the biggest superstar Bollywood had then. Producers often hesitated to cast both of them together to avoid hike in the cost of production.
When Raj Kapoor approached him and showed his inability to pay his fee, Pran just took Re.1 to sign the movie. This was the love and passion Pran had for acting. It was decided that if the movie comes out to be a hit, Kapoor can pay him his fees otherwise he can forget the payment.
Raj Kapoor failed to return the favour
Fortunately, the movie turned out to be one of the biggest successes of Raj Kapoor. It became the second-top-grossing hit of 1970s and one of the 20 highest-grossing Indian film of all times. The movie earned Rs. 11 crores which can be equated to Rs. 398 crores in 2016 (inflation adjusted). The music of the movie received overwhelming applause.
After the humongous success of the film, Pran received a cheque of Rs. 1 lakh from Raj Kapoor studio. Pran felt cheated because the money paid to him was very less as compared to what it should have been. He felt outright betrayed and that was the moment when their long friendship met its bad fate.
Despite Pran helping Raj Kapoor when he was broke, Raj Kapoor failed to recognise his efforts and denied Pran of the payment he deserved. Since then, Pran never again worked with RK films.
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