is no place in the films for uncouth brawny Pathans who think they
can make it as actors".
This is an observation made by Baburao Patel,
Editor and Publisher of the top Cinema magazine of the 30's, 40's and
50's, Film India, about Prithviraj Kapoor. Prithviraj in his reply to
Film India, said "Baburao, do not provoke this Pathan. If there is no
place for me in the Indian films I shall swim across the seven seas
to Hollywood and make it there as an actor". Prithviraj did not need
to go to Hollywood. That is History.
Conservative is not the ideal term for the environment in which
Prithviraj sprouted. In the early part of this century, Peshawar
city, in the northern Frontier Province of India, was a cantonment
area which housed the British army. It abounded with a happy mixture
of Hindu and Muslim Pathans who had migrated from Kabul, Capitol of
the neighborly State of Afghanistan. From this soil to emerge into
the field of fine arts was an act of heroic imagination.
Born in a middle class Landlord family in Samundri, a district of
the industrial township of Lyallpur, Punjab, now in Pakistan,
Prithviraj got most of his grounding from his Grandfather, Dewan
Keshavmal (seen alonside with him when he was in school in 1916). His
father was a Sub Inspector of Police at Peshawar so that Prithviraj
after finishing his schooling at Lyllapur and Lahore got admitted in
Edward College, Peshawar. Here he came face to face with the reality
he dreamt of.
Strange are the ways of those who leave their footprints in the
sands of time. Professor Jai Dayal, in charge of Literature and
Drama, was in love with an English lady Norah Richard, who was in
love with Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw, Elliot, Ibsen, Dresden,
Dostoviesky etc., etc., etc.(et al). The clay at their disposal in
the form and zeal of Prithviraj was shaped into the finest piece of
sculpture. It was destined to be so.
spirit of pioneering manifests in the urge, the obsession and overall
aim to shape your own destiny and what could only be termed as
deranged thinking, as many then thought.
Prithviraj was married at 18. He graduated and did one year of
Law. He wanted to be an actor. He took a loan from his Aunt and left
Peshawar. He had three children at that time. He told my
mother he would send for her and the children. It was the winter
of 1928. His destination was Bombay, the Hollywood of India.
This was his tryst with Destiny.
Basheswarnath Kapoor, Prithviraj's father, a retired Sub Inspector in
Peshawar, was also to make his mark in films. Not to be left out, he
did a cameo role in his grandson, Raj Kapoor's film, "Awara" and thus
the Kapoors have to date 5 generations involved in the Cinema
My father and us, Raj, Shammi, Umi and