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“Awaara” Film by Raj Kapoor: Personal Response Essay

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Updated: Feb 15th, 2022


For many years Bollywood has been presenting the world with masterpieces. The film Awaara, directed by Raj Kapoor, is one of them. Its story, cast, and professional work of the filmmaking team made the movie one of the best works not only in India but in the world as well. The story about struggle and love keeps the viewer in tension until the end. The well-organized camerawork and soundtracks, in addition to singing and dancing, leave nothing but positivity at the end of the film. Many critics agreed that the film is exceptional in its structure as well as in presentation techniques.

Main text

Awaara, also known as The Vagabond, is an Indian crime drama film directed by Raj Kapoor, which was released in 1951 in India (Awaara). The story narrates about a young man, Raj, who lost his path and was stuck between two worlds – honest but poor and criminal but wrong. This story is typical for Bollywood movies and was presented in films for many years. As usual for this genre, the man meets a woman, Rita, who believes that he can change and become better (Awaara). Both their families are involved in the conflict, which is represented through a lot of dancing and singing.

The complexity of the genre makes the audience follow the story of Raj and sympathize with his attempts to change. He tries to start a new life as an honest man so that he could be worthy of Rita’s love (Awaara). The twisted storyline of Raj’s effort to leave the world of criminality and his failure in doing so is presented in the beautiful and colorful scenery of Indian culture. Even in the darkest moments when the main characters are going through the worst times, the spectators never feel bored since dancing and singing continue as an essential part of the film.

The film is structured in such a way that the entertainment would bring the most attention. Many of the scenes are filled with moves, songs, and dance and sometimes it is even hard to follow the story, which is why it may seem a little chaotic (Dass 103). However, this is typical for Bollywood movies, so that the audience can enjoy the actor’s play without bothering the story (Dass 103). The film presents several metaphors to address life’s issues and find a possible solution for them.

The opening scene is Raj’s dream, which makes an introduction to all the events that are about to happen. The first metaphor is clouds that represent Raj’s uncertainty whether he should stay faithful to his friend and continue the path of crime, or he should change to become better for the girl he loves (Dass 105). The audience can observe the mist that becomes thicker as Raj goes through doubts about his actions; he keeps going in and out through that mist, which represents his hesitation about himself and his life (Rajadhyaksha 60). In his dream, the clouds come and disappear, which is meant to hide or reveal things that he is seeking for both Raj and the spectators. The mist and the clouds characterize that the man is trapped and does not know how to change his life.

Raj is a good person and a loving son, but the circumstances made him a thief. He is uncertain because when he decides to get out of the fog to the light, it overruns him and pulls him back (Rajadhyaksha 59). Apart from the doubts, Raj also dreams about Rita, the only woman he has ever loved. She is a part of a metaphor about his life – he wants a better destiny, but no matter how hard he tries, he cannot reach it because it always disappears in the mist. As he moves further with his dream, he gets to the land that has huge sculls. It is the representation of his life – sculls have no faces; therefore, they have no personality and no lives (Eisenstein 41). Raj has never met his father; he has been poor his whole life; moreover, he is a criminal. He believes that he does not deserve a better destiny or a more meaningful life.

The morality of the film is that the good always beats the bad, and the criminals are not necessarily evil, sometimes they do not have a choice. As it is popular among Bollywood movies, the action inclines as the narration continues (Eisenstein 42). It moves away from the main story and comes back again, altering and adjusting it for a better presentation. Appropriate music that was written by Shankar-Jaikashan makes the effect even stronger. It creates the bridge between the picture and the audience, helping the filmmakers to inspire adequate emotions from the spectators. The great camerawork helps the audience to understand the main characters’ story better. For example, the swimming scene with Raj and Rita captured the attention, and the sound effects helped to achieve a better emotional response from the audience.

Some critics would agree that Awaara had tremendous success due to the complexity of its narration and camerawork. Dass considered Awaara to be an iconic picture of Bollywood cinematography (101). According to the article presented by this author, the costumes, lyrics, actors’ performance, cultural reflection, and many other details made the movie one of the most successful Bollywood work at that time. It is undeniable that Awaara had a tremendous and successful influence on the public and gave a significant push to other directors to film in the same genre. The realistic reflection of the screen and building presentation, colors, and structure shows the parallel with the main character’s life, making the film even more interesting to observe (Eisenstein 39). The director put much effort into playing the audience’s subconsciousness that successfully caused an expected reaction from the spectators. Einstein also points out the triumphant use of metaphors, which was mentioned before, as the primary technique for addressing the audience in the video (Eisenstein 39). It creates a particular mystery, which the spectaculars solve themselves.

The cultural theme in the movie also made it very popular among other countries. A lot of dancing and singing, which was not typical in other parts of the world, for example, in Hollywood, made is exotic and fascinating, but most importantly, positive (Rajadhyaksha 55). Many people around the globe loved Indian films for their colorful presentation and positivity that captured their attention from the beginning until the end. This specialty made Indian film production a leader in their field, and until now, it has almost no competitors.


To conclude, Bollywood films are characterized by their special interaction with the audience. The film Awaara shows the complexity of a story, camerawork, sound, and action that keeps the tension among the spectators until the end. The dancing and the singing do not distract from the narration, but make it more understandable and inspire sympathy and compassion from the audience. The professional work of the filmmaking team made it one of the best iconic works in the world, and it has been staying in that position over the years.

Works Cited

Eisenstein, Sergei M, et al. “The Montage of Film Attractions 1924.” The Eisenstein Reader, British Film Institute, 1999, pp. 35–52.

Kapoor, Raj, director. Awaara, R.K. Films, 1951.

Dass, Manishita. “Cinetopia: Leftist Street Theatre and the Musical Production of the Metropolis in 1950s Bombay Cinema.” Positions, vol. 25, no. 1, 2017, pp. 101–124. Web.

Rajadhyaksha, Ashish. Journal of Arts & Ideas, Dec. 1993, pp. 55–70. Web.

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