Prithviraj Kapoor | Early Life | Theatre Career | Acting Career | Personal Life

Prithviraj Kapoor Biography

  • Born On: November 3, 1906
  • Born In: Lyallpur, Punjab
  • Nationality: Indian
  • Career: Actor
  • Died On: May 29, 1972


Prithviraj Kapoor was a great actor with a powerful voice. Prithviraj Kapoor was addressed as Papaji affectionately. But this story will take us to the time.. ..when Prithviraj Kapoor had just started. He was born on 3rd November 1906 in Lyallpur….which is now in Pakistan.

Prithviraj Kapoor joined Edward’s College in Peshawar. His grandpa Dewan Keshav Mal was a great personality. He left a deep impression on small Prithviraj. Prithviraj Kapoor joined Edward’s College in Peshawar. He did a 2-year course to become a lawyer.

And this was the time when he did theater for the first time. He worked in Lyallpur and Peshawar. And then in 1928, he headed to Mumbai. He came to Mumbai with a loan. In Mumbai, he worked in Imperial Films company. Though he worked as an extra in his first film. And then he got the main role….in film ‘Cinema Girl’ released in 1929. This was the time for mute films. This means that there were no dialogues in these films.

Prithviraj Kapoor worked in other mute films like.. ..’Do Dhari Talwar’, ‘Sher-e-Arab’ and ‘Prince Vijay Kumar’. And then in 1931, the first talkie was released. That means films with dialogues. The film was ‘Alam Ara’. Even in this film, Prithviraj Kapoor played a supporting role. And in Sohrab Modi’s ‘Sikander’ released in 1941 did an amazing job.

Prithviraj Kapoor’s first love was theater and not films. It was well known that he would earn from films….and spend it on theater.

In 1944, he started his own Prithvi theater group. And he did awesome plays in Prithvi theater. Like Abhigyaan Shakuntam by Kalidas. Even his elder son Raj Kapoor worked in it.

Though by 1946 even Raj Kapoor turned towards films.  You all know to put a price tag on everything in the world. But Papaji or Prithviraj Kapoor would….roam the cities of India with his theater group. He would perform in different places. And he also stayed in Kolkata for a few years.

One of his most famous plays was ‘Pathan’…enacted in 1947. And by 1950 it became obvious that….it will be difficult to earn from the theater. And that also from a traveling theater company.

Several artists who used to work for Prithvi theater group….also turned towards films. Whether it is music composer duo Shankar Jaikishen Or Prithviraj Kapoor three sons. Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, and Shashi Kapoor. Later because of the endeavors of Shashi Kapoor….and his wife Jennifer Kendall’s efforts…Prithvi theater merged with Shakespeare theater company. And this company was named as Shakespeareana.

On 5th November 1978, Prithvi theater….was inaugurated in Mumbai. Prithviraj Kapoor wouldn’t just pay attention to his own acting. In fact, he also used to encourage his co-actors. Who can forget emperor Akbar in ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. When we saw this character being played….we felt that maybe this was how emperor Akbar might have been like.

Prithviraj Kapoor has seen in his elder son Raj Kapoor’s films. Films where his younger son Shashi Kapoor and…Shammi Kapoor had played children’s roles. And later he was seen in film’ Rajkumar’.. ..with his second son Shammi Kapoor.

Papaji did several films. And at one time he had nearly lost his voice. Because of this Prithvi Theater Group.. ..had to incur a huge loss. Gradually he regained his voice. But interestingly if the recovered voice was so strong….then his voice before it went bad would have been impressive.

Prithviraj Kapoor worked in Punjabi films….and also in a Kannada film. Punjabi films ‘Nanak Nam Jahaz Hai’….or ‘Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansar’ can never be forgotten. And Kannada film ‘Shahshatkara’ released in 1971 was also done by him. He was appointed in the Rajya Sabha. And the Indian government had also awarded him the Padma Bhushan.

He was also given a fellowship in the Sangeet Natak Academy in 1969. Personally, Prithviraj Kapoor…got married at the age of 17….with 14-year-old girl Ramsarni Mehra. And his elder son Raj Kapoor was born in 1924. And he had 3 children by the year 1930.

Interestingly there were 2 more sons between…Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor. One was called Devi and the other was called Nandi. Devi was a victim of pneumonia. And Nandi had eaten something poisonous….because of which he died. And much later Shashi Kapoor was born. So his family consisted of Raj Kapoor…Shammi Kapoor, sister Urmila….and the youngest Shashi Kapoor. Prithviraj Kapoor saw his grandsons working. He saw the success of his children. And then Prithviraj Kapoor and his wife Ramsarni died. Both were suffering from cancer. They both died in 1972. On 29th May 1972 Prithviraj Kapoor died.

In the history of Indian cinema and theatre.. ..there was no artist like Prithviraj Kapoor.. ..and there will never be someone like him either.

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