The Dialogue of Awaara, Raj Kapoor’s Immortal Classic is a book for lovers of both cinema and language, featuring K.A. Abbas’s original
screenply and dialogue, based on a story by K.A. Abbas and V.P. Sathe.
A seriously neglected area of Indian cinema is the subject of film dialogue. Though cinema is mainly a visual experience, it is through
dialogue that we know the thoughts and emotions of the film’s characters. Through K.A. Abbas’s words and the poetic songs by Shailendra and
Hasrat Jaipuri, Awaara’s Judge Raghunath (Prithviraj Kapoor). Raj (Raj Kapoor) and Rita (Nargis) come alive. The film has a wonderful mix of
on-liners, quips, punchlines and catchphrases while being modern, witty and full of nuance.
Awaara’s dialogue and songs have been carefully transcribed from the film’s original soundtrack by Suhail Akhtar and Vijay Jani and
presented in Hindi, Urdu and Roman scripts. The English translation of the dialogue, an introduction and commentary are by Nasreen Munni
Kabir. With a foreword by Randhir Kapoor, this unique book also features many stills from a most loved and enduring classic by Raj Kapoor;
one of Indian cinema’s master filmmakers.
Born in Panipat (now in Haryana) on 7 June 1914, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, popularly known as K.A. Abbas, was a prominent man of
many talents. A film director, novelist, screenwriter and a journalist, he wrote in Urdu, Hindi and English. An IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre
Association) member, known for his strong political beliefs, Abbas was famously on the side of the underdog. Awaara is his first collaboration
with Raj Kapoor.
A celebrated journalist, film critic and publisher, V.P. Sathe was also an active IPTA member. Hugely knowledgeable about Indian
cinema, Sathe ran a successful film advertising agency and was responsible for R.K. Films’ publicity for many years. He co-wrote with K.A.
Abbas a number of film stories, including Awaara.
Notes on translator.
Author and documentary filmmaker, Nasreen Munni Kabir has written many books on India film, including Guru Dutt, a life in cinema
(Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1996) and Lata Mangeshkar in her own voice (Niyogi Books, 2009). Her next publication is The Dialogue
of Mother India, Mehboob Khan’s Immortal Classic (Niyogi Books, 2010).
I really don’t think Raj Kapoor has made a better film than Awaara. I have probably seen it a hundred times. In addition to all the deserved praise
heaped on the film’s many aspects, Raj Kapoor also made history by featuring four generations of our family of actors - from my great
grandfather, grandfather, father, uncle and finally to me. I was about four years old then and obviously remember little of the days when the film
was being made, but am honoured that my father chose to feature me in the credit titles - appearing as a lonely street urchin, sitting under a
gaslight and feeding a stray dog.
The creation of R.K. Studios and Awaara have been closely linked. It was during the making of the film that my father bought some
land close to Asha Studios in Chembur, which became R.K. Studios. The first scene filmed here on a “roofless” set - the studio was still under
construction in 1950 - was the famous dream sequence, choreographed by Madame Simkie. Power wasn’t easily available during the day and
many scenes, including this memorable three-part song had to be filmed at night when extra power was supplied to factories and film studios. As
my father was working round the clock, we moved to Chembur from Matunga - living in a rented apartment before our house was built near the
Raj Kapoor was always drawn to depicting social issues in his work and Awaara, while hugely entertaining, full of romance, wonderful
music and humour, makes subtle comments on class differences and the struggles of young people in the early fifties. The film shows his
unusual flair for music, and we see how, since Barsaat, he used it to great advantage. Music was his forte - and though he never performed
professionally, he played many musical instruments, including the tabla, violin and piano.
Everyone involved in making Awaara was young and exuberant. Raj Kapoor had hugely gifted co-stars in Prithviraj Kapoor, Nargis,
Leela Chitnis, K.N. Singh and Shashi Kapoor, Nargis was just wonderful in the film and my father also got a terrific performance out of
Prithviraj Kapoor. I remember my mother telling me that grandfather was most reluctant to play the father’s role in Awaara, considering he was a
leading man and star attraction of countless movie. But K.A. Abbas finally persuaded him by saying: “You are not the hero’s father, You are the
hero and Raj is your son’” I personally think my grandfather’s interpretation of judge Raghunath is his best performance. He oozes personality
and looks the real aristocrat.
Raj Kapoor also relied on the brilliant talent of screenplay and dialogue writers K.A. Abbas and V.P. Sathe; cinematographer Radhu
Karmakar; music directors Shankar-Jaikishan; lyricists Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri; playback singers Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh and
Mohammed Rafi and art director M.R. Achrekar. The extraordinary art deco sets by M.R. Achrekar are just so impressive - and to imagine these
sets were created some sixty years ago when no technical gizmos existed.
My father always spoke proudly of Awaara - it gave him the most extraordinary national and international acclaim, winning him the
reputation of being an actor and filmmaker of high caliber. I have experienced at first hand the film’s amazing appeal in many parts of the world,
including the Middle East, Russia, China and Israel. People have loved Awaara and the romantic pairing of Raj Kapoor-Nargis is still alive in the
hearts of many. The film’s music has had an enduring impact and I believe the title song is probably still the most famous Indian film song. When
I travel to China and Russia, whether or not they can pronounce the song words, people sing “Aawaara hoon” to me with great affection.
Raj Kapoor was consumed by cinema and confident about his abilities as director. Throughout his life, he worked in what became
famous as “the cottage” - two rooms and a suite located in the studio compound. Although the studio offices were made for him, he refused to
sit in them, saying: “They were made for ‘dukaandaars’ [shopkeepers].” Raj Kapoor was always more interested in filmmaking than in the
business of cinema. He never made films in the hope they would do well at the box-office. If a film was creatively satisfying - that’s all that
mattered. He wasn’t bothered about money - in fact Awaara far exceeded the original budget of seven lakhs and ended up costing him twenty-five
lakhs, a fortune in those days. All he wanted was to make the film right and knew that the money would follow.
One of Awaara’s great strengths is its remarkable screenplay and exceptional dialogue by K.A. Abbas and V.P. Sathe. So when Nasreen
Munni Kabir suggested to me that she would like to do this book, it pleased me to think the film’s dialogue would be preserved in book
My father films from the heart and not the mind. It isn’t surprising to see why a film like Awaara has been such a phenomenal success.
Raj Kapoor and his team of individually gifted artists have created a film which remains in a class all its own. For me it’s a perfect film and has
assured its place in cinema history.
North Indian Music (289)
Original Texts (60)
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