There was nothing subtle or silent about their romance. From the moment Raj Kapoor and Nargis met, in 1947, they were destined to create history.
A first meeting that was cherished by Raj and immortalised many years later in his bubblegum love tale Bobby (1972). It was the scene in which Dimple Kapadia and Rishi Kapoor meet the first time and she accidentally smears flour across her forehead.
She was 18, he was 23. Nargis with hits like Taqdeer (1943) and Mela (1948) was well on her way to stardom. After acting for more than 12 years, Raj was on the verge of establishing his own studio and banner R.K. Films. He was at the door requesting her presence in his first production. She said yes.
Though their first venture Aag (1948) flopped, their professional association turned personal within a matter of time. They fell madly in love. Ironically, Raj had married Krishna just one year before he met Nargis.
Their next movie together was the Mehboob Khan blockbuster Andaz (1949), along with Dilip Kumar. Nargis had recommended Raj. It was their watershed movie and established the trio as stars.
R.K. Films’ Barsaat released later the same year breaking all previous records. The production house and the pair’s success was now in motion. A poster of theirs from the film was sealed for the famous R.K. Films’ emblem – Nargis hanging back from Raj’s right arm while he held a guitar in his left.
Their personal and professional relationship lasted through nine years and 16 films. Nargis starred in four more RK productions: Awaara (1951), Aah (1953), Shree 420 (1955) and Jagte Raho (1956). The others were outside productions: Anhonee (1952), Bewafa (1952) and Chori Chori (1956).
It is true that Nargis inspired Raj and the director acknowledged the fact. The actress played an integral role in his success, the couple traveled the world to promote his films.
They were open about their love in those times. Raj went on to have children with wife Krishna even as his association with Nargis continued.
However, professionally, the partnership didn’t do as much for her. Nargis found better roles in other productions. His love held her back.
Many stories abound about Raj’s genuine intentions for Nargis, he had promised her marriage but was unable to defy the elders in his family.
Finally, in 1956, after years of waiting Nargis gave up. She ended their relationship, Jagte Raho was their last movie together.
The actress moved on to pour all of her heart into a historic performance for Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), met Sunil Dutt and gave up films in 1958.
Raj found solace in acting for the next few years. He did not direct another film until Sangam (1964) which was seven years later. R.K. Films’ next Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960) was directed by loyal cinematographer Radhu Karmarkar.
And that’s how the long chapter of love concluded.
The lyrics in Dum Bhar Jo Udhar Mooh Phere Chanda from Awaara fittingly captures their love, I think. He plays defiant with Main Chor Hoon, Kaam Hai Chori as she implores him with Dil Ko Churake, Kho Mat Jaana. Reel meets real as they look heartwarmingly smitten, playing coy, daring the moon to look away.
Song: Dum Bhar Jo Udhar
Singer: Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar
Cinematography: Radhu Karmarkar