An actor, a father and a man who gave the Indian cinema a bountiful of legacy to hold on to. Yes, the eminent personality we’re addressing today is Prithviraj Kapoor. This magnificent personality has ruled the film industry for nearly 40 years. May 29, 1972, Hindi cinema mourned the loss of this star. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and reminisce the journey Kapoor had in his glorious days.
Born on November 3, 1906 Prithviraj was the son of a landlord from Peshawar in Pakistan. His father Dewan Basheswarnath Kapoor was a police officer. After his marriage to Rama Kapoor, he had three sons Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor, who are well known names in the Indian film fraternity.
His prime legacy today is theatre. Considered as a lost art form by many, theatre still breathes thanks to the Kapoor clan who have maintained it even today.
In his earlier days, prior to films, Kapoor became a part of the Grant Anderson Theatre Company and performed in Shakespeare’s plays in English. He won accolades for his role of Laertes in Hamlet. Later, he also joined New Theatres in Calcutta, which was a turning point of his career. He performed in some of the glorious films of New Theatres like Manzil (1936), President (1937), and Vidyapathi (1937). He played the title role in Sohrab Modi`s Sikander in 1941. One cannot ignore his charismatic performance in this epic film, based on the life of Alexander the Great. In 1960, he acted in another historical movie Mughal-e-Azam and played the role of the Mughal ruler Akbar, which has been flagged as one of the best products of Hindi cinema.
In 1944, Prithviraj Kapoor established Prithvi Theatres, the first professional theatre. Within just 16 years, Prithvi Theatre did some 2,662 shows. In every show of the theatre, Prithviraj Kapoor played the lead role. Many aspiring talents like Ramanand Sagar, Shankar-Jaikishen and Ram Ganguly were introduced by Prithvi Theatre. Sadly, Kapoor lost his voice while directing a film entitled Paisa, as a result Prithvi Theatre was closed and he even gave up films.
Among several accolades, Prithviraj Kapoor had been honoured by the government of India with the Padma Bhushan in 1969 and also the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1971 for his immense hard work and contribution in Indian Cinema. Prithvi Theatre was later revived in his honour by his son, Shashi Kapoor.
The Kapoors have been ruling the film industry till date with fresh faces like Ranbir Kapoor coming as the face of the continuing legacy. We take a moment to recall the memories of an endearing personality. May his soul rest in peace.