Awaara, also written Awāra and known overseas as The Vagabond, is a 1951 Indian crime drama film, produced and directed by Raj Kapoor, and written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. It stars Raj Kapoor along with his real-life father Prithviraj Kapoor, as well as Nargis, Leela Chitnis and K. N. Singh. Other members of the Kapoor family make an appearance, including Raj's youngest real-life brother Shashi Kapoor, who plays the younger version of his character, and Prithiviraj's father Dewan Basheshwarnath Kapoor, playing a cameo role in his only film appearance. The film's music was composed by Shankar Jaikishan.
|Directed by||Raj Kapoor|
|Produced by||Raj Kapoor|
|Written by||Khwaja Ahmad Abbas|
|Screenplay by||Khwaja Ahmad Abbas|
|Story by||Khwaja Ahmad Abbas |
K. N. Singh
|Edited by||G.G. Mayekar|
All India Film Corporation,
|Distributed by||R.K. Films|
|14 December 1951|
|Box office||est. ₹156 million ($30.7 million)|
The film expresses socialist themes, and blends social and reformist themes with the crime, romantic comedy and musical melodrama genres. The plot centers on the intertwining lives of a poor thief Raj (played by Raj Kapoor), the privileged Rita (played by Nargis), and Judge Raghunath (played by Prithviraj Kapoor) who is unaware that Raj is his son. In the film, Kapoor's poor "little tramp" character references Charlie Chaplin and was further developed in other Kapoor films such as Shree 420. Awaara is considered a milestone in the history of Bollywood.
The film became an overnight sensation in South Asia, and found even greater success abroad in the Soviet Union, East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. In particular, the song "Awaara Hoon" ("I am a Vagabond"), sung by Mukesh with lyrics by Shailendra, became hugely popular across the Indian subcontinent, as well as in countries such as the Soviet Union, China, Bulgaria, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Romania. The film was also nominated for the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953. The film is estimated to have sold over 200 million tickets overseas, including more than 100 million in China and about 100 million in the Soviet Union. Owing to its popularity in so many countries, the film is a candidate for the most successful film of all time. In 2012, Awaara was included in the 20 new entries to All-Time 100 greatest films by TIME.
Judge Raghunath is a wealthy district judge who convicts Jagga, a man whose father was a criminal, of rape, on little evidence. The judge believes that "good people are born to good people, and criminals are born to criminals." Jagga later escapes and kidnaps the judge's wife Leela for revenge. When he finds out that she has just become pregnant, he releases her after four days and plans a different kind of revenge. Leela's reputation is smeared by suspicions that she was unfaithful to her husband and the judge throws her out of the house, rejecting her pleas that the child is his.
She has a son, Raj, and they live in poverty as a result of being estranged from the father. As a child, Raj befriends Rita in school, but he is removed from the school rolls while trying to maintain a job as a shoeshine, and Rita moves to another city. One day, Raj meets Jagga, who convinces him to adopt a life of petty crime in order to save his starving mother. Raj grows up into a talented criminal, going in and out of short stays in jail, and working for Jagga's gang, while his mother is under the impression that he is an honest businessman. Raj never forgets Rita, keeping her birthday picture in his home, though he worries that she would dislike him if she knew what kind of man he has grown into.
While planning a bank robbery with his friends, Raj realises they need an automobile. He snatches a woman's purse when she steps out of the car, but finds no keys, and pretends to pursue the thief to release suspicion from himself. After his elaborate act, he returns the purse to the woman, who is charmed by his personality and apparent selflessness. Later, when Raj successfully steals a car, he hides from the police in a mansion where he meets the same woman from before. Seeing the same birthday picture, Raj realises that she is his school friend Rita. Rita tries to ask Raj how things have gone since schooldays, but he jokingly hints that he is a thief, and she decides not to ask further. Rita is now a ward of the Judge, who suspects that the new man in her life is no good. As Raj and Rita fall in love, he starts wanting to turn away from crime and worries that Rita will not accept him due to his lifestyle. Rita still tells him that she doesn't care about his past, as she loves him no matter where he comes from.
Raj tries to quit his life of crime to work at a factory, but his employers fire him when they find out that he was a thief. Rita invites him to her birthday party, to the disapproval of the Judge, who believes that the impoverished Raj must come from a bad family. Remembering the humiliation he felt as a child when he could not afford a gift for Rita's birthday, Raj goes back to Jagga for a money loan. Jagga mocks his attempts to reform and asks him to commit more crimes. Raj refuses but ends up stealing a necklace from a man on the street, not knowing the man was the Judge. At Rita's birthday, when Raj gives her a necklace without a case and the Judge gives her a case without a necklace (he did not realise it had been stolen until then), she discovers that Raj is indeed a thief. Rita goes to Raj's mother and learns his whole life story. She decides that Raj is not bad, but was forced into committing crimes by bad influence and the desperation of living in poverty. Raj is ashamed, still believing he is no good for her, but she forgives him.
Raj goes to the Judge to ask if he can marry Rita, but the Judge is still stubborn and turns him away. Meanwhile, Jagga and the gang commit the bank robbery, but it goes wrong and they have to run from the police. Jagga hides in Raj's house, where Leela recognizes him and he attacks her. Raj enters and fights him off, killing Jagga in self-defense. Raj goes on trial for Jagga's death, where Judge Raghunath is deciding the verdict. Rita persuades him that Raj acted in self-defense and is innocent. When Leela comes to the courthouse, she sees Raghunath and chases after him but is struck by a car. Rita collects the testimony from Leela in the hospital, and later Raj is allowed to visit her. Leela tells Raj that the Judge is his father and asks her son to forgive him. But Raj becomes angrier at the Judge for making him and his mother suffer. He escapes from jail and tries to kill the Judge for revenge, but is stopped by Rita. Due to these actions, Raj is brought to another court and is defended by Rita, who reveals the full truth to the court. Raj chooses not to defend his actions and says that he is a bad man. He asks the court not to think of him, but the millions of other children who grow up in poverty and end up turning to crime because high society does not care about them. While he awaits his execution, Raj is visited by Judge Raghunath, who finally accepts that Raj is his son and tearfully asks for forgiveness. In the end, Raj is spared execution but sentenced to 3 years in prison for his crime. He promises that after getting released, he will reform himself for Rita, who promises to wait for him.
- Raj Kapoor as Raj
- Shashiraj as Young Raj (child artist)
- Nargis as Rita
- Baby Zubeida as Young Rita
- Prithviraj Kapoor as Judge Raghunath (Raj's father)
- K. N. Singh as Jagga
- Cuckoo as Bar dancer
- B. M. Vyas as Dubey (Rita's father)
- Leela Misra as Mr. Raghunath's Sister-In-Law
- Leela Chitnis as Leela Raghunath
- Honey O'Brien as Dancer
- D. Basheshernath (Grand Pa) as a Judge
- Supporting cast
- Om Parkash, Rajoo, Mansaram, Rajan
Manek Kapoor, Paryag, Ravi, Vinni,
Bali, and Shinde.
The music for this film was composed by Shankar Jaikishan while the songs were written by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. The soundtrack was listed by Planet Bollywood as number 3 on their list of 100 Greatest Bollywood Soundtracks. The song Awaara Hoon was used in the Malayalam Film Vishnulokam directed by Kamal starring Mohanlal. Awaara was the best-selling Bollywood soundtrack album of the 1950s.
|1||"Ek Do Teen"||Shamshad Begum||Shailendra|
|3||"Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi"||Lata Mangeshkar|
|4||"Dam Bhar Jo Udhar Munh Phere"||Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh|
|5||"Tere Bina Aag Yeh Chandni"||Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey|
|6||"Naiya Meri Manjhdhar"||Mohammed Rafi|
|7||"Hum Tujhse Mohabbat Kar Ke"||Mukesh||Hasrat Jaipuri|
|8||"Ek Bewafa Se Pyar Kiya"||Lata Mangeshkar|
|9||"Ab Raat Guzarne Wali Hai"|
|10||"Jab Se Balam Ghar Aaye"|
The film is a collaboration of the famous team of director/producer Raj Kapoor and writer Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. K. A. Abbas originally wanted Mehboob Khan to direct the film, but the two disagreed over the casting. Khan wanted Ashok Kumar to play the judge and Dilip Kumar the son. In the event, Abbas withdrew his script from Mehboob Studios and Raj Kapoor decided to direct it.
In his column for the Indian Express, Kapoor wrote, "In Awara I tried to prove that Vagabonds are not born, but are created in the slums of our modern cities, in the midst of dire poverty and evil environment."
It was entered in the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Prize of the Festival (Palme d'Or). In 1955, it was voted the best film of the year by readers of Turkish daily Milliye.
In 2003, Time magazine included it in a list of "10 Indian Films to Treasure". Time magazine also chose Raj Kapoor's performance in Awaara as one of the top ten greatest performances of all time. In 2005, Indiatimes Movies ranked the movie amongst the "Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films", writing: "Whenever Raj Kapoor and Nargis came together on screen, sparks flew. Their chemistry was electrifying and it crackles with raw passion in Raj Kapoor's Awaara. Nargis's wild and carefree sensuality pulsates and Raj Kapoor's scruffy hair-rebellious persona only adds fuel to the fire". TIME magazine included the film among the 20 new entries added to All-Time 100 greatest films in 2012.
|Territory||Gross revenue||Adjusted gross||Footfalls (ticket sales)|
|India||₹23 million ($4.83 million)[n 1]||$48 million (₹3.02 billion)||17 million|
|Soviet Union||37.75 million руб – $16.97 million (₹80.8 million)||$146 million (₹9.12 billion)||100 million|
|Initial run (1954)||29 million руб – $7.25 million[n 2] (₹34.5 million)[n 1]||$70 million (₹4.37 billion)||65 million|
|Re-runs (1955–1966)||8.75 million руб[n 3] – $9.72 million[n 4] (₹46.3 million)||$78 million (₹5.14 billion)||35 million|
|China||CN¥14.8 million – $8.86 million (₹72.2 million)||$41 million (₹2.67 billion)||100 million|
|Initial release (1955)||CN¥2.8 million – $1.14 million (₹54 lakh)||$11 million (₹775 million)||40 million|
|Re-release (1978)||CN¥12 million – $7.72 million (₹62.7 million)||$31 million (₹2.18 billion)||60 million|
|Worldwide||₹156.1 million ($30.66 million)||$232 million (₹14.81 billion)||217.1 million|
In India, the film grossed a record of ₹23 million in 1951, making it the highest-grossing film in India up until that time. This record was later beaten the next year by Mehboob Khan's Aan (1952), starring Dilip Kumar, which grossed ₹28 million in 1952.
In the Soviet Union, Awaara was released in 1954, debuting at Indian film festivals in Moscow and Leningrad which drew about 1.5 million viewers in four days. By the end of the year, it drew an audience of about 64 million viewers in its initial run, the highest for any film in the Soviet Union at the time, until its record was surpassed by Amphibian Man in 1962. At the Soviet box office, Awaara remained the most-viewed Indian film, the third biggest foreign hit of all time, and one of the top 20 biggest hits of all time.
In terms of gross revenue, Awaara earned 29 million руб ($7.25 million,[n 2] ₹34.5 million)[n 1] in its initial run, surpassing Aan to become the highest-grossing Indian film overseas at the time. Awaara's 29 million руб was eventually surpassed by Disco Dancer (1982), which grossed 60 million руб in the Soviet Union. Including re-runs, which were running for 10–12 years, Awaara's footfalls in the Soviet Union amounted to about 100 million box office admissions, which remains among the highest for an Indian film in an overseas market.
The film was also a success in China, where it first released in 1955. In its opening week, the film sold 4 million tickets, including 1.43 million admissions earning a distribution rental income of about CN¥100,000 in Beijing alone. Its 4 million opening-week ticket sales were equivalent to estimated opening-week rentals of approximately CN¥280,000 ($114,000). Prior to its 1978 re-release, the film's initial run had sold a total of 40 million tickets in China.
The film's 1978 re-release was a greater commercial success in China. Following its re-release, the film went on to sell a total of more than 100 million tickets, and was the second highest-grossing Indian film in China behind only Nasir Hussain's Caravan (1971).
The song "Awaara Hoon" and actor Raj Kapoor were widely known across China and the Soviet Union. The film's success in both the Soviet Union and China has been attributed to the socialist themes expressed in the film.
Due to the film's remarkable success with Turkish audiences, Awaara was remade in Turkey a total of eight times. The first and most prominent Turkish film remake was Avare (1964) starring actor Sadri Alışık and actress Ajda Pekkan.
There was also an Iranian film remake, called The Wheel of the Universe (1967). However, this version may have been a remake of the Turkish remake Avare, rather than a direct remake of the original Awaara.
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