NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art
presents Raj Kapoor and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema, which reveals through eight legendary films the work of actor, director, and mogul Raj Kapoor (1924-1988), from January 6 through 16, 2012. Largely unknown in North Americaexcept to filmgoers of South Asian descentKapoor is revered not only in India but also throughout the former Soviet world, the Middle East, and beyond for the films he made during the Golden Age of Indian cinema. The exhibition is curated by Noah Cowan, Artistic Director, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and organized by TIFF, IIFA, and RK Films, with the support of the Government of Ontario. It is organized for MoMA by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.
Presented in newly struck 35mm prints, Raj Kapoor and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema offers an introduction to one of the most ravishing and influential periods of world cinema. Kapoor founded RK Films in 1948, and it became the most important Hindi studio of the post-Independence eraand the one most commonly associated with the nebulous and often misunderstood expression Bollywood.
Aag (Fire, 1948), Kapoors first film as producer and director, reflects German Expressionist influences, and established the modern-day, hyper-romantic style that would become his trademarkcombining contemporary Hollywood melodrama with the moral lessons and metaphors of the mythologicals: special-effects-laden versions of tales from the Indian epics the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Kapoor took the latent romanticism of prewar Indian commercial cinema and made it frank, intense, and personal, creating a new idiom for the expression of emotion that had little place in traditional Indian literature and drama.
The exhibition opens on Friday, January 6, with Kapoors Awaara (The Vagabond, 1951), a modern-day version of the tale of Ramas banishment of Sita. The exhibition also features Barsaat (Monsoon, 1949), the interweaving story of romantic Pran, played by Kapoor, and his more carnally driven best friend; Boot Polish (1953), which follows two orphans who are befriended by a kind smuggler and encouraged to join the boot-polish trade; Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (Where the Ganges Flows, 1951), a comedy about a pilgrim who, at the river Ganges, is lured from his religious observances by a tomboyish, yet scantily clad, female bandit; Shree (1955), Kapoors most famous incarnation of his tramp persona; Meera Nam Joker (My Name is Joker) (1970), a self-reflexive masterwork that undermined the tramp persona Kapoor had carefully shaped over two decades; and Bobby (1973), which follows the teenage son of a wealthy family who falls in love with their maids granddaughter.