Did You Know - For 28 Years, Indian Films Were Highest- Grossing Movies In Non- English Category

Did you know that for 28 years Indian films worldwide were the highest-grossing films in the non-English language category?

Entertainment Desk
By Entertainment Desk |
 Sunday May 21, 2023
Raj Kapoor Awaara
Did you know that for 28 years Indian films worldwide were the highest-grossing films in the non-English language category?

Did you know that for 28 years Indian films worldwide were the highest-grossing films in the non-English language category? This was during 1940-1968. Legendary Raj Kapoor's film ‘Awaara’ is the highest scorer among the Indian films shown abroad. Its global gross earnings were USD 35 million as per 1968 exchange rates. Awaara established Raj Kapoor as a director. It was his third film and he was only 27 then. But, did you know that at 22, Nargis was his ‘senior’? She was already a star when Raj Kapoor debuted.

Nargis played Rita, a character that matched well with her modern-girl image. A woman ahead of her time, she wore a one-piece swimsuit, considered daring seven decades ago.  Awaara also underscored the success of a fine team job by some of the brilliant best minds and hands, including writers Khwaja Ahmed Abbas and V P Sathe, cameraman Radhu Karmakar and art director M R Achrekar.

Dina Iordanova, professor at the University of St Andrews, and other experts cite several texts and anecdotal evidence to state in a special issue of the journal “South Asian Popular Cinema” that Awaara may be a candidate for the title of the “most popular film of all times.” 

The film’s title song “Awaara hoon…” composed by Shankar-Jaikishan and sung by Mukesh was a universal hit.  A 2013 survey by BBC on the most popular Bollywood songs, ranks“Awaara Hoon” as second. It is next only to “Baharon Phool Barsao” (Suraj). Do you know that presidents and prime ministers foot-tapped to it?  Written by lyricist Shailendra, the song in Hindi-Urdu instantly struck a chord in audiences from various classes and backgrounds all over India and beyond in China, in the Soviet Union, Japan, and in the Middle East. In China, both the song and film were said to be favourites of Chairman Mao Zedong.

The popularity of "Awaara Hoon" led to the creation of localized versions of the song in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, the Soviet Union, China, and Romania. In Hungary, the local dubbed version of the film was ‘Csavargo’ which means tramp.  Did you know Awaara gave Indian cinema its first dream sequence? It was unique, with actually three songs, performed amidst a sea of twirling clouds or mist. Choreographed by Zohra Segal, the songs depicted three heaven-to-hell-and-back episodes. It ends on an optimistic note, a metaphor for life.

Another classic, Pyaasa, soon followed with a dream sequence, with Guru Dutt serenading Mala Sinha. In recent years, Aamir Khan and Vidhu Vinod Chopra have paid tribute to the original dream sequence in 3 Idiots. Dressed like Raj Kapoor and later Guru Dutt, in a white jacket and bow tie, Aamir dances with Raj Kapoor’s granddaughter, Kareena

A lot of information about Raj Kapoor as well as the worldwide popularity of Indian films has come from Shekhar Kapur of the hit Mr. India fame, starring Anil Kapoor and Sri Devi. But did you know he is not related to the Kapoor “khandan’? He belongs to the Anand family, a nephew of the legendary Anands -- Chetan Anand, Dev Anand, and Vijay Anand. Shekhar Kapoor has carried on the Anand family tradition. He made Bandit Queen and then moved to global cinema with the making of Elizabeth: The Golden Age and many more. His latest is What Has Love Got To Do With It? It stars Shabana Azmi. Did you know it is written by none other than Jemima Khan, the former wife of Pakistani cricketer-politician Imran Khan?

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