#100Days100Scenes: Awaara - a moral dilemma classic

Raj Kapoor was a rare cinematic talent of India since he was star, actor, director, producer rolled into one and had astute knowledge of all aspects of film making. Rightly called the greatest showman of India, he also had a knack of promoting the right talent - be it the music directors Shankar Jaikishan, or the singer Mukesh or the heroines he launched. His showmanship also had an eccentric streak where he also asked his leading women to expose more than the industry standard.

Heavily influenced by Charlie Chaplin, Raj Kapoor tried to imbibe the childlike impish lovability of the character who gets pushed into circumstances beyond his control in many of his directorial ventures like Awaara, Shree 420 and Boot Polish.  There is always a struggle to make ends meet . These movies in the 1950s managed to raise the right questions yet provide wholesome entertainment. He is credited with creating the Golden Age of Indian cinema of 1950s.

Questions included the common moral dilemma of that time " in time of penury is it ok to bend the law if you can need to feed your stomach". Indian cinema has overused this dilemma to the hilt and most plots cinematically justify it by saying its the circumstances that caused it.  A classic cinematic recipe for success for India is to take the being opportunistic vs remaining poor dilemma , coat it with a moral good vs evil question and add unhealthy amounts of Indian melodrama enacted by strong actors.

Awaara acted, directed by Raj Kapoor deals with this dilemma. With an all time classic song 'Awaara hoon", Raj Kapoor plays this character so well and in effect manages to fuse the trampish nature of Chaplin with the good natured 'tapori' on the streets of Mumbai.

Raj ( the name of Raj Kapoor in the movie) becomes a petty criminal trained by Jagga ( a masterful K.N, Singh). Unknown to Raj, Jagga is the one who had kidnapped his mother from her husband Judge Raghunath who had convicted Jagga. Raj falls in love with Rita who is the apprentice of the judge and gifts her a stolen necklace and she learns he is a thief. Choosing what path to follow creates one of the best cinematic capture of a moral ethical dilemma. The judge himself is the villain in some way because he turned away his wife because she was kidnapped thus creating also a father son conflict in the end.

Scene description:
This scene that follows is Rita asking him to leave crime. Raj surmises that he cannot. Raj Kapoors sincere acting showing dejection and fear is a standout aspect of this scene. With simple dialogues there is a sense of poignancy, desperation and urgency in this scene.  With the on-screen chemistry of Nargis (playing Rita) and Raj Kapoor on full display here, Nargis is exemplary in her acting , exhorting and pleading at the same time. I always wondered why Raj Kapoor the director has the wind blowing and more importantly Nargis saree falling to reveal more of her when she is pleading. Its one thing to write this off as a Raj Kapoor fetish ( seen in several of his movies after 1955) or is he trying to show that even the physical attractiveness of Rita is not going to change his mind. The editing of this scene shows  the influence of Frank Capra on Raj Kapoor as well. Anyway enjoy the absolutely stylishly shot depiction of one of Indian cinemas most repeated moral dilemma by India's first and finest on screen couple.