The Hypocrisy Of Bollywood’s Biggest Showman

Raj Kapoor, considered Bollywood's most influential filmmaker, made relatively progressive movies. But how were his values in real life?

These days, Bollywood is not as charismatic as it portrays itself to be. While the boycott trend seems to be over the top and a little exaggerated, it is clear that the audience has evolved. They have stopped buying into the age-old Bollywood approach that has worked for several years.

Any experienced person would know that this was bound to happen.  Bollywood has been criminally non-inclusive and biased all these years. Let’s dive deep into it and just 1 example will be enough to showcase the point of this article.

Raj Kapoor – The ultimate showman of Bollywood

There might only be a handful of people who might have not heard about Raj Kapoor. He was widely regarded as one of the best filmmakers of his time and founded the now-shelved R.K. FILMS.

He is the father of Rishi Kapoor and grandfather of Karishma, Kareena, and Ranbir Kapoor, if our younger readers need more context. Now let’s see the difference between the storylines of movies made by R.K. FILMS and the real lives of the Kapoor family.

The themes of his movies painted a reformist image

If one does a quick search of movies under the R.K. FILMS banner in the later part of Raj Kapoor’s career, some of these masterpieces will show up –

1. MERA NAAM JOKER (1970) – This is quite a bold film, probably the first Bollywood movie depicting attraction between a student and a teacher. The theme deals with heartbreaks in the characters’ lives.

2. BOBBY (1973) – This is a teenage love story, after which Dimple Kapadia became an instant star, and the mini skirts that she wore in the movie became famous.

3. SATYAM SHIVAM SUNDARAM (1978) – A movie that carries the message that the inner beauty of an individual matter more than physical appearance. The female lead is shown to have a partially burnt face, but her soulful voice depicts her inner beauty.

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4. PREM ROG (1982) – This film tackles social issues, primarily the remarriage of widows, while also telling stories of religious and caste-related atrocities.

5. RAM TERI GANGA MAILI (1985) – The storyline deals with the exploitation of small-town girls by tourists. Such girls are later deserted to face their own fate. It leads to disturbing sequences of events like a single mother having to resort to prostitution.

Female leads were over-sexualized to sell these movies

While these movies give the impression that the people behind were progressive. It seems like they dared to raise social and cultural issues on the big screen for the betterment of society. But when we see the flip side of the coin, we realize this isn’t true.

Here are some scenes from the movies mentioned above:

Simi Garewal in the movie Mera Naam Joker

Zeenat Aman in Sathyam Shivam Sundaram

Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili

One might argue that these scenes are entirely normal and nothing to be fussed about. But if we consider the real life of Raj Kapoor, he is not the same as the director Raj Kapoor. This is an important consideration and hence this sexualization should not be brushed aside.

These scenes brought immense popularity to his films. The trend of sexualizing female bodies gained more impetus in Bollywood, courtesy of Mr. Raj Kapoor.

Women in the Kapoor family did not seem to elicit the same progressive treatment

The Kapoor family’s ideologies are nowhere near what they portray on the big screen. Raj Kapoor has been involved with multiple actresses, as mentioned by Rishi Kapoor himself in his Autobiography Khullam Khulla, with Nargis and Vyajantimala being the prime examples.

Rishi and his mother even lived separately in a flat when Sangam was filmed. This is when the news of an affair between the two lead actors broke out. Both his sons Randhir and Rishi have also not had a cordial relationship with their partners.

Neetu Singh retired from acting at a very young age in 1981 after being engaged to Rishi. The Kapoor family probably did not want the women of their household being objectified as they did to other actresses!

Recently, Ranbir Kapoor also made a remark about Alia gaining weight during her pregnancy. This is all part of a systemic chain.

What next for Bollywood?

Bollywood needs to move on from these toxic biases and be more inclusive to remain relevant. Heroines dancing in sarees amid heavy snowfall, 50-year-old male leads being paired opposite 20-year-old female leads, and objectifying women won’t help their cause.

Image sources: Inline images provided by the author. Featured image is a screengrab from youtube video.


About the Author

Sagar Dalwani

1st Year MBBS student

7 Posts | 4,653 Views

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