Indian cinema@100: 35 fun facts about the Kapoors of Bollywood

  | April 29, 2013 14:00 IST (New Delhi)

Family portrait of the Kapoors

We visit the legacy of the unstoppable Kapoors, the only real dynasty in Indian cinema.

The first family of Bollywood - eight decades , four generations - have played starring roles in the history of Indian cinema and continue to do so. Prithviraj Kapoor laid the foundation of the dynasty; his sons were Raj, Shammi and Shashi; Raj's sons Randhir and Rishi continued the family business; and the fourth generation consists of Randhir's daughters Karisma and Kareena, and Rishi's son Ranbir. Shashi's daughter Sanjana runs Prthivi Theatre, and acting genes were imported into the family by way of Shammi's first wife Geeta Bali, Shashi's wife Jennifer Kendal, Randhir's wife Babita and Rishi's wife Neetu Singh. Today, we visit the legacy of the unstoppable Kapoors, the only real dynasty in Indian cinema.
1.Starting off as an extra, the Kapoor patriarch appeared in a supporting role in the first Indian talkie Alam Ara (1931). His first lead role was in Sohrab Modi's Sikander in 1944.
2.He laid the foundations of Prithvi, a travelling theatre troupe which staged memorable productions across the country. Today, Prithvi is still run by the Kapoors today.
3.Prithviraj's son Raj began as a clapper-boy. When Kidar Sharma was filming Vishkanya (1943), Raj would always comb his hair and pose in front of the camera before giving the clap. When Kidar Sharma was shooting a close-up as the sun was going down, Raj caught the hero's beard in the clapperboard and it came off. Sharma lost his temper and reportedly slapped young Raj in front of the whole unit.
4.Raj's real name was Ranbir, shared by his grandson. Raj was the middle name of all the Kapoor brothers. Shammi's real name was Shamsher Raj and Shashi was really Balbir Raj.
5.Raj Kapoor first wanted to become a music director before making it big as an actor. He became the youngest film director at 24.
6.He set up R K Films in 1948. The first film from the banner was Aag, directed by Raj Kapoor, the first movie starring himself and Nargis. But Barsaat brought the studio success, and a scene featuring Nargis, Raj and a violin became the RK Films' logo.
7.The success of Barsaat allowed Raj Kapoor to buy R K Studio in Chembur. The first scene shot in the studio was the dream sequence from Awaara.
8. At Dilip Kumar's wedding, one of the most glamorous of it's time, the baraat was led by Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand.
9.Hrishikesh Mukherjee was inspired to make Anand after he became haunted by the thoughts of close friend Raj Kapoor's death after the actor-director fell ill.
10.The scene where Rishi meets Dimple in her house in Bobby was inspired by the real life meeting between Raj Kapoor and Nargis.
11.Awaara (1951) was the first movie to feature three generations of Kapoors in its cast - Diwan Basheshwarnath (Raj Kapoor's grandfather), Prithviraj and Raj. In 1971, Randhir Kapoor repeated the formula with Kal Aaj Aur Kal starring himself, dad Raj and grandfather Prithviraj.
12.Shammi Kapoor, Prithviraj's second son, wanted to be an aeronautical engineer before he joined the theatre and then films. Legend has it, he hit big time as an actor after shaving off his moustache.
13.The song Tum ne mujhe dekha from Teesri Manzil was shot soon after the death of Shammi Kapooor's wife Geeta Bali. Director Nasir Hussain kept the set ready for three months so that Shammi could shoot whenever he was ready.
14.Shammi Kapoor could sing very well. He is also credited as the first dancing hero of Bollywood.
15.Shammi was the lucky mascot for many new actresses. Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore and Saira Banu made their debuts opposite him in Dil Deke Dekho, Kashmir Ki Kali and Junglee.
16.Shammi Kapoor was the first net-savvy Bollywood star and founded the Internet Users Community Of India. He was commonly thought to have also owned Yahoo mail, which he didn't because of the famous song from Junglee called Yahoo.
17. Shashi Kapoor, Prithviraj's third son, started out as a child actor in his father's famous travelling theatre. He made his film debut as a child star in brother Raj's hits like Aag and Aawaara.
18.Shashi Kapoor played Amitabh Bachchan's younger brother in Deewar, Trishul, Shaan and only played his older brother once, in Silsila.
19.Shashi Kapoor and Utpal Dutt acted in theatre together as part of Shakespeareana, the theatre group run by Shashi's future father-in-law Geoffrey Kendal.
20.In the mid '70s, Shashi Kapoor signed almost every film that came his way, in order to raise money for Prithvi's theatre shows. He had so many films at one point of time that he was constantly shuttle between film sets for shoots, and was nicknamed Taxi by elder brother Raj.
21.Shashi Kapoor was almost cast as Bhootnath in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam and lost the role after he showed up 2.5 hours late for a meeting with director Abrar Alvi and producer Guru Dutt.
22.Rishi Kapoor, Raj Kapoor's second son, made his debut as a toddler in the hit song Pyaar hua ikraar hua from Shree 420. Brother Randhir and sister Ritu also appear in the song. Nargis had to bribe little Rishi with chocolates so he would shoot the sequence.
23.The 21 year old Rishi finally made his debut as a leading man in Bobby, directed by his father, for which he was picked without much enthusiasm, since Raj Kapoor was broke after the debacle of Mera Naam Joker.
24. 20 new actresses, from Dimple Kapadia to Divya Bharti, made their debuts opposite Rishi Kapoor.
25.In a goof-up that was never corrected in Amar Akbar Anthony, Rishi Kapoor's character Akbar Illahabadi calls Neetu Singh's character Dr Salma by her real name instead of her screen name in their first scene together, with him being given a health check by her.
26.Neetu Singh started out by hating Rishi Kapoor because he used to constantly play pranks on her. On the sets of Amar Akbar Anthony, he smeared kajal on her face forcing her to redo her make-up.
27.Karisma, Randhir and Babita's elder daughter, was actually the second Kapoor girl in Bollywood. The first was Shashi's daughter Sanjana who made a non-starter debut in Hero Hiralal (1988), opposite Naseeruddin Shah.
28.Karisma's nickname Lolo is a shortened version of Italian star Gina Lollobrigida's last name.
29.Karisma was to be launched opposite Bobby Deol in Barsaat but a delay in production led to her being cast in 1991's Prem Qaidi.
30.Karisma almost didn't get the Raja Hindustani role. It was meant to be Aishwarya Rai's debut, and Karisma only got the role after Ash dropped out for her Miss World commitments. The film became one of the biggest hits of Karisma's career.
31.Kareena, Randhir and Babita's younger daughter, was named after Leo Tolstoy's book 'Anna Karenina' which her mother Babita was reading while pregnant with her.
32.10-year-old Kareena would visit her sister on film sets and meet all her co-stars, with almost every one of whom she later co-starred herself - Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and even Saif Ali Khan, now her husband.
33.Ranbir Kapoor is a mama's boy. He has Neetu Kapoor on speed dial and she still gives him pocket money - Rs 1500 a week. She calls him Raymond because she thinks he's the perfect man.
34.Ranbir Kapoor chose to study at the Lee Strasberg Institute because it was the alma mater of his favourite actor Al Pacino.
35.Ranbir, who shares his grandfather's real name, has a montage of Raj Kapoor's photos in his room.

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