Prithviraj Kapoor


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Papaji"There 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.Mummiji

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.

Prithviraj KapoorThe 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.


Shammi Kapoor's GrandfatherDewan 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 world.

My father and us, Raj, Shammi, Umi and Shashi

Papaji


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