“For me, this book has been my homage to my Guru.” – Rahul Rawail

During the “Symbiosis Lit Fest” that took place on 20th November 2021, the students of SCMC had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Rahul Rawail speak on his upcoming book: “Raj Kapoor- The Master at Work.”

Renowned filmmaker, Rahul Rawail, director of films such as Love Story (1981), Betaab (1983), and Arjun (1985), has a family legacy in the Bollywood industry. His father, HS Rawail, has created legendary films such as Mehboob Ki Mehendi (1971) and Laila Majnu (1976). Although Mr. Rawail aspired to be a physicist, he was inspired to pursue filmmaking while visiting Raj Kapoor’s film set., He assisted Raj Kapoor in films like Mera Naam Joker (1970) and Bobby (1973). Mr. Rawail’s films launched the careers of Bollywood big-wigs such as Sunny Deol and Aishwarya Rai. He has also represented India on the jury of Berlin Film Festival, BRICS film festival, and Cannes Film Festival.

Talking about his book, Mr. Rawail said that the book is a creation of his memories of Raj Kapoor. It narrates his behaviour on sets, what went on in his mind, how he decided the scripts and worked with other actors. He also mentions Raj Kapoor’s fascinating sense of humour and his obsession with food. The book is a masterclass for students ambitious about filmmaking and cinema, with nearly 8-10 chapters dedicated to Raj Kapoor’s acting technique.

Dr. Sushobhan Patankar, a faculty member of the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC), spoke to Mr. Rawail about his upcoming book:

Q: Beyond the tribute, what was the reason to write the book after three decades of Raj Kapoor’s demise?

Mr. Rawail replied  that he would often talk about Raj Kapoor’s work with people. His much-acclaimed films such as Love Story, Betaab, Arjun, and Dacait (1987) were influenced by his working style. Talking about his inspiration, he said that it was Apurva Asrani, a filmmaker based in Goa, who first suggested Mr. Rawail write a book on Raj Kapoor’s work. He then consulted Rishi Kapoor, whom he fondly called “Chintu,” who immediately told him to take on this project. At last, it was Krishna Kapoor, the wife of Raj Kapoor, who entrusted him with the job of capturing the true essence of her husband’s legendary work.

Yet, it was only when Pranika Sharma, co-founder of Saga Fiction, expressed her desire to pen it down that the work started to come around. Mr. Rawail narrated Raj Kapoor’s story, and Pranika Sharma formulated it into chapters.

Q; Raj Kapoor was a great storyteller. Be it scripting, screenwriting, music, or direction; he was phenomenal at everything. What impresses you the most among all his qualities?

According to Mr. Rawail, Raj Kapoor was a master of visual narration, which helped him translate his creativity to the screen. He changed the impact of a scene by his edits of capturing closer shots. Raj Kapoor often said that if the narration is strong, nobody is going to notice the costume. The dialogues will carry them away. 

Q: Another thing about Raj Kapoor films was his music. Can you share any memory related to his sense of harmony and how he worked with music directors and lyricists? 

Music to him was like the light of a film, said Mr. Rawail. Raj Kapoor would count the beats of music before the shot, so that it comes at the right moment when it is recorded. He also had a repository of music in his mind, which he used when he found the ideal situation. Elaborating on Raj Kapoor’s creativity, Mr. Rawail spoke about the incident when he had heard the song Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate four years before it was used in the film “Bobby.” Thus, he speculates that the song was in Raj Kapoor’s mind even before that.

Q: Raj Kapoor introduced many new actors in cinema. Did introducing new faces in his films make a difference in popularizing them? 

Mr. Rawail said that Raj Kapoor did not think of it as popularizing; he looked at it as a script requirement. He believed that this created more relatability with the audience. Apart from storytelling, the people are also looking at new actors, and he was careful with that. It was this approach that inspired Rahul Rawail to cast new actors in his film, Love Story

Q: The dance sequence in Aawara (1951) is so different from what we see now. Can you touch light upon the importance of dance in his films?

The dream sequence in Aawara was unique, something not seen during that time, said Mr. Rawail. When he talked about it to Raj Kapoor, Mr. Kapoor replied that said that the character he was playing was thinking about his ambition to become the most powerful entity in the world. The whole dance sequence was massive, so the dance movements were also choreographed according to that theme.

Q: Can you throw some light on the legendary singer, Mukesh Ji’s close association with Raj Kapoor? 

Mr. Rawail recalled that Raj Kapoor felt Mukesh Ji’s voice closely resembled his own voice on screen. He firmly believed that when one attaches an artist’s voice to an actor, people over time start believing that this is the man’s voice, which is an achievement for both.

He then shared a few anecdotes and funny memories he shared with Raj Kapoor. Mr. Rawail also expressed his sadness on the demise of his childhood friend, Rishi Kapoor, to whom the book is also dedicated.

The book launches on 14th December 2021, which will be the 97th birthday of the legend, Raj Kapoor.

By Kashish Nagwani

(Batch 2024)

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