The Eternal Poet: Raj Kapoor & the Golden Age of Indian Cinema

7/19/12 to 8/11/12

One of the most influential figures in Indian film history, the actor/director/producer Raj Kapoor helped popularize many of the tropes that make up commercial Indian cinema, or “Bollywood,” today. His series of box-office hits from the late 1940s and early 1950s are at once glossy and realist, slapstick and sorrowful, and include epic musical numbers, noirish deep-focus cinematography, and insanely elaborate sets, along with pleas for social mobility.

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Past Films

  • Bobby

    • Saturday, August 11 8 pm

    Raj Kapoor (India, 1973). New 35mm print! Raj Kapoor hit the seventies swinging with this candy-colored tribute to the bell-bottomed new generation, which became one of India's biggest hits and launched not only the careers of his baby-faced son, Rishi, and the lovely Dimple Kapadia as two star-crossed young lovers, but also an entirely new genre of teen-focused films. (168 mins)

  • Shree 420

    • Saturday, August 4 8 pm

    Raj Kapoor (India, 1955). New 35mm print! A country hick finds honesty won't get him far in the city in Kapoor's delirious underdog tale, informed in equal parts by India's post-Partition urban realities and Frank Capra's joyful thirties comedies, and boasting more Kapoor/Nargis charisma. Shankar-Jaikeshen's soundtrack includes several immortal songs. (169 mins)

  • Awaara

    • Saturday, July 28 7:45 pm

    Raj Kapoor (India, 1951). New 35mm print! Kapoor and Nargis affirmed their status as one of Indian cinema's greatest couples in this evergreen classic of Chaplinesque comedy and tragedy, social commentary, swooning romance, and timeless musical sequences and set pieces. (193 mins)

  • Boot Polish

    • Thursday, July 26 7 pm

    Prakash Arora, Raj Kapoor (India, 1954). New 35mm print! One of Indian cinema's first Western successes and a major influence on films like Salaam, Bombay and Slumdog Millionaire, Boot Polish combines Italian neorealism with Victor Hugo-like flourishes and pointed social (and socialist) commentary in its tale of two orphans on the streets. (149 mins)

  • Aag

    • Saturday, July 21 8:15 pm

    Raj Kapoor (India, 1948). New 35mm print! Few Hollywood melodramas are as perversely aflame with thwarted love as Kapoor's intense directorial debut, which adds a surprising dose of noir to its tale of youthful idealists fighting the bleakness of the modern world. (138 mins)

  • Barsaat

    • Thursday, July 19 7 pm

    Raj Kapoor (India, 1949). New 35mm print! Two city friends (Raj Kapoor, Premnath) find country lovers in Kapoor's first megahit, whose almost physically sensual cinematography echoes the deep-focus splendor of Citizen Kane and the iconic portraitures of silent-era Murnau. (171 mins)