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Romantic Raj Kapoor and the RK studio's logo
There was a time when Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and romantic showman Raj Kapoor were immensely popular with the Russian public.
Songs from movies under the RK studio banner 'Barsaat' and 'Awara' were commonly hummed in Russia. In an article in Merinews, 'Raj Kapoor and the Cold War' I had narrated how we three young Indian engineers roaming with our cameras (a forbidden act!) in East Berlin at the height of Cold War, were saved by the popularity of the song , 'Awaara hoon, awaara hoon...'.

In 1949, Raj Kapoor's first commercial success came with 'Barsaat', starring Nargis. One of the posters of Barsaat showed Raj Kapoor holding Nargis in one arm and a violin in another. The poster itself became iconic.

Raj Kapoor Barsaat Logo

Raj Kapoor decided to immortalise Nargis with a logo of RK studios, which clearly bore resemblance to the 'Barsaat' scene. He paired romantically with Nargis in fifteen films. But I have a longer tale to tell about the sequence of events, which culminated in the famous RK studios logo.

R K Studio Logo

Great German composer and violinist, Beethoven wrote a Violin Sonata No. 9 and named it 'Kreutzer Sonata'. It is a very melancholy musical piece. Moved by this melancholic piece, the great Russian writer and thinker Leo Tolstoy wrote a short novel. And also called it 'Kreutzer Sonata'!

It was a passionate tale of a violinist's love for a lady piano player. She never responded to his yearnings for her. In desperation, he killed her. Immediately after publication, the book was promptly banned, for it was too graphic a portrayal of torrid one-sided affair. It offended the moral sensibilities of the Russia of that day. Nevertheless, rest of the world read it and applauded. Rene Francois Prinet, a 19th century French artist, read Tolstoy's tragic story and painted the by now well known painting, which he also titled it as 'Kreutzer Sonata'.

Raj Kapoor

In 1960, I happened to see this painting in an art collection in Stuttgart. I was struck, as if by a bolt - for what I thought had striking similarity with the famous RK studio logo.

We in India may also recall that the famous perfume Tabu, also had this painting on its products. My thesis is that the very sensitive artist that Raj Kapoor was, had either seen the painting in Europe, or was taken up by the Tabu ads or logo, as Tabu perfumes were popular in India, those days.

It is this painting that Raj Kapoor saw and got the inspiration to recreate a similar scene with Nargis, which he did in 'Barsaat'. 'Barsaat' and its blockbuster box office success germinated in him, to translate the iconic scene in the movie, into the logo of RK studios.

It to this day is probably the most recognisable of logos in the Bollywood world! The only refrain humming in my mind at the moment is 'Hum na rahen ge, tum na raho ge. Phir phi rahen gi kahaniyan'. So that was the story!

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