When The Kapoors Were King

Who would have known that Indira Gandhi once toyed with a possible marital alliance between her son Rajiv and Ritu, the daughter of Raj Kapoor? It didn’t work out because Rajiv was already in love with


someone called Sonia. You get this intriguing tidbit from journalist Madhu Jain’s new book, The Kapoors: The First Family of Indian Cinema (Penguin/Viking). The book is not only full of little known facts, but chronicles the lives of the entire Kapoor clan from the larger than life patriarch Prithviraj Kapoor to the unforgettable showman Raj Kapoor, his brothers Shammi and Shashi to their sons and grandchildren – all carrying on the family tradition.

Jain delves into everything from their romances, their celebrations, and their idiosyncrasies to their dark side, their excesses and the alcoholism that afflicted many of them. She did intensive interviews with family and friends over seven years and has created a great read with lots of insights into this pedigreed, over-the-top family of which Randhir Kapoor has said, “We are like the Corleones in The Godfather.”


Jain’s journalistic digging produced some real gems. She talks about the simple needs of the greatest showman, Raj Kapoor. “He never slept on a bed, but on the floor. Wherever he went, he pulled the mattress on to the floor, even in his suite at the George V hotel in Paris. Sometimes this got him into trouble. His wife recounts an interesting incident. ‘Rajji was a simple man. He always slept on the floor. In London, at the Hilton, he was ticked off for pulling the mattress down and when he did it the second time, he was fined. He paid the fine every day till he left the hotel.”

To paraphrase what they said about the Mahatma – it cost a lot to keep Raj Kapoor in simplicity. 


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