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Prithviraj Kapoor

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Prithviraj Kapoor


Kapoor in 1929

Born 3 November 1906

Samundri, Samundri Tehsil, Lyallpur District, Punjab, British

India (present-day Faisalabad District, Punjab, Pakistan)[1][2]

Died 29 May 1972 (aged 68)

Bombay, Maharashtra, India(present-day Mumbai)

Occupation Actor, director, producer, writer

Years active 1927–1971

Spouse(s) Ramsarni Mehra (1923–1972)

Children 6 (Raj, Shammi, Shashi, Nandi, Devi, and Urmila Sial)

Relatives See Kapoor family

Awards Padma Bhushan (1969)

Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1972)

Prithviraj Kapoor (3 November 1903;– 29 May 1972) was a pioneer of Indian theatre and of the
Hindi film industry, who started his career as an actor in the silentera of Hindi cinema, associated
with IPTA as one of its founding members and who founded the Prithvi Theatres, a travelling
theatre company based in Mumbai, in 1944.
Born in Samundri, Samundri Tehsil, Lyallpur District, Punjab, British India (present-
day Samundri, Samundri Tehsil, Faisalabad District, Punjab, Pakistan), and lived in the village
Lasara, Punjab (India) he was also the patriarch of the Kapoor family of Hindi films, four
generations of which, beginning with him, have played active roles in the Hindi film industry.
However, his father, Basheshwarnath Nath Kapoor, also played a short role in his movie Awaara.
The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1969 and the Dadasaheb
Phalke Award in 1971 for his contributions towards Indian cinema. [3]


 1Early life and education

 2Career
o 2.1Prithvi Theatres
 2.1.1Postage stamp
o 2.2Later years
 3Awards and honours
o 3.1Awards
 4Personal life
 5Selected filmography
 6References
 7Further reading
 8External links

Early life and education[edit]

Kapoor was born on 3 November 1903, in a Punjabi Hindu family, in Samundri, Punjab

Province in British India, in what today is the Punjab province of Pakistan. His father,

Basheshwarnath Kapoor, served as a police officer in the Indian Imperial Police in the city
of Peshawar; while his grandfather, Keshavmal Kapoor, was

a Tehsildar in Samundri, Punjab, British India. Surinder Kapoor, the famous Bollywood producer

and father of actor Anil Kapoor was a first cousin of Prithviraj Kapoor. [10]

Kapoor began his acting career in the theatres of Lyallpur and Peshawar. In 1928, he moved
to Bombay with a loan from an aunt. There he joined the Imperial Films Company. He acted as [11]

an extra in his first film, Do Dhari Talwar, though he went on to earn a lead role for his third film,
titled Cinema Girl, in 1929. [12]

After featuring in nine silent films, including Do Dhari Talwar, Cinema Girl,Sher-e-
Arab and Prince Vijaykumar, Kapoor did a supporting role in India's first film talkie, Alam

Ara (1931). His performance in Vidyapati (1937) was much appreciated.

His best-known [by whom?]

performance is perhaps as Alexander the Great in Sohrab Modi's Sikandar (1941). He also
joined the Grant Anderson Theater Company, an English theatrical company that remained in
Bombay for a year. Through all these years, Kapoor remained devoted to the theatre and
performed on stage regularly. He developed a reputation as a very fine and versatile actor on
both stage and screen.
Prithvi Theatres[edit]
Main article: Prithvi Theatre
By 1944, Kapoor had the wherewithal and standing to found his own theatre group, Prithvi
Theatres, whose première performance was Kalidasa's Abhijñānaśākuntalam in 1942. His eldest
son, Raj Kapoor, by 1946, had struck out on his own; the films he produced had been successful
and this was also an enabling factor. Prithviraj invested in Prithvi Theatres, which staged
memorable productions across India. The plays were highly influential and inspired young people
to participate in the Indian independence movement and the Quit India Movement. In over 16
years of existence, the theatre staged some 2,662 performances. Prithviraj starred as the lead
actor in every single show. One of his popular plays was called Pathan (1947), which was
[citation needed]

performed on stage nearly 600 times in Mumbai. It opened on 13 April 1947, and is a story of a
Muslim and his Hindu friend. [15]

By the late 1950s, it was clear that the era of the travelling theatre had been irreversibly
supplanted by the cinema and it was no longer financially feasible for a troupe of up to 80 people
to travel the country for four to six months at a time along with their props and equipment and
living in hotels and campsites. The financial returns, through ticket sales and the rapidly
diminishing largesse of patrons from the erstwhile princely class of India, was not enough to
support such an effort. Many of the fine actors and technicians that Prithvi Theatres nurtured had
found their way to the movies. Indeed, this was the case with all of Prithviraj's own sons. As
Kapoor progressed into his 50s, he gradually ceased theatre activities and accepted occasional
offers from film-makers, including his own sons. He appeared with his son Raj in the 1951
film Awara as a stern judge who had thrown his own wife out of his house. Later, under his
son, Shashi Kapoor, and his wife Jennifer Kendal, Prithvi Theatre merged with the Indian
Shakespeare theatre company, "Shakespeareana", and the company got a permanent home,
with the inauguration of the Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai on 5 November 1978. [16]

Postage stamp[edit]

In 1996, the Golden Jubilee year of the founding of Prithvi Theatre, India Post, issued a special
two Rupee commemorative postage stamp. It featured the logo of the theatre, the dates 1945–

1995, and an image of Kapoor. The first day cover, (stamped 15-1-95), showed an illustration of

a performance of a travelling theatre in progress, on a stage that seems fit for a travelling theatre,
as Prithvi theatre was for sixteen years, till 1960. On the occasion of 100 years of the Indian

cinema, another postage stamp, bearing his likeness, was released by India Post on 3 May
Later years[edit]
His filmography of this period includes Mughal E Azam (1960), where he gave his most
memorable performance as the Mughal emperor Akbar, Harishchandra Taramati (1963) in which
he played the lead role, an unforgettable performance as Porus in Sikandar-e-Azam (1965), and
the stentorian grandfather in Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971), in which he appeared with his son Raj
Kapoor and grandson Randhir Kapoor. [citation needed]

Kapoor starred in the legendary religious Punjabi film Nanak Nam Jahaz Hai (1969), a film so
revered in Punjab that there were lines many kilometres long to purchase tickets. [citation needed]

He also starred in the Punjabi films Nanak Dukhiya Sub Sansar (1970) and Mele Mittran
De (1972).
He also acted in the Kannada movie Sakshatkara (1971), directed by Kannada director Puttanna
Kanagal. He acted as Rajkumar's father in that movie.