Awaara (1951)

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Raju lives as a derelict as a result of being estranged from his bitter father, a district judge, who threw Raju's mother out of the house years ago. Raju shacks up with a Dacoit (... See full summary »



(dialogue) (as K.A. Abbas) , (screenplay) (as K.A. Abbas) , 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Prithviraj Kapoor ...
Justice Raghunath (as Prithviraj)
Raj Raghunath
K.N. Singh ...
Shashi Kapoor ...
Young Raj (as Shashiraj)
Cuckoo ...
Bar Dancer
B.M. Vyas ...
Dubey (Rita's Father)
Leela Mishra ...
Mr. Raghunath's Sister-In-Law (as Leela Misra)
Baby Zubeida ...
Young Rita
Leela Raghunath
Honey O'Brien
Om Prakash Mehra ...
(as Om Parkash)
Raju ...
(as Rajoo)


Raju lives as a derelict as a result of being estranged from his bitter father, a district judge, who threw Raju's mother out of the house years ago. Raju shacks up with a Dacoit (pickpocket bandit) as his surrogate father only to realize that the man is actually responsible for the original misunderstanding between his parents. Raju kills him, and then tries killing his father, but fails, is arrested, and is taken to court right before his very own father, who presides there as the Judge. Raju has his childhood girlfriend as his legal representative, and the onus is now on his father, who must pass judgment without showing any personal sentiment. Written by rAjOo (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Musical | Romance


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Release Date:

7 April 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Tramp  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Raj ('Raj Kapoor') is given prisoner number 308 which is the same as article number of Indian Penal Code for which he was charged and tried. Article 308 of Indian Penal Code is about the charge of 'Attempt to commit culpable homicide'. See more »


Referenced in Khoya Khoya Chand (2007) See more »


Awara Hoon
Sung by Mukesh
Music composed by Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal (as Shankar-Jaikishan)
Lyrics by Shailendra
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the most popular films of all time in India
19 January 2003 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Musicals in America in their heyday were mostly about the lives of prominent show business personalities or small town middle class Americana, never about the outcast or the urban slum dweller. This is not the case with the films of Indian director, Raj Kapoor, especially in Awaara, a 1951 film and the later Boot Polish. These films call attention to the less fortunate and, in the case of Awaara, the vagabond whose life of crime is the inevitable outcome of growing up in the slums.

In Awaara, Kapoor's real father (Prithviraj Kapoor) plays a heartless judge who accuses his pregnant wife (Leela Chitnis) of infidelity after she was kidnapped by bandits and throws her out of his home (the logic of this eludes me since she was already pregnant when kidnapped). The stern judge staunchly believes that a thief's son will always be a thief and a good man's son will always turn out good. In a series of flashbacks, the film dramatizes the unfortunate consequences of this belief system. Raju, played by the director Raj Kapoor as an adult and by his brother Sashi Kapoor as a child, is born on the streets and grows up in the slums.

Under the guidance of a ruthless bandit named Jagga (K. N. Singh), he turns to stealing to help support his mother. Raj has little to comfort him except for a picture hanging on the bare walls of his house of Rita, his childhood sweetheart played by the stunning Nargis, a real life lover of Kapoor. The romance between Raj and Rita is one of the central motifs of the film and the chemistry between the two is electric. This is especially evident in the boat scene where she performs an exotic dance to the Dum Bhar song, and after she calls him a junglee (savage) and he slaps her in an incident that serves to bring them closer together.

Raju, the tramp, is forced to live on his wits but does so with humor and a Chaplinesque charm. When he finds out the true circumstances of his childhood, however, he sets out to get revenge against his father, the judge, and ends up facing a charge of attempted murder in the judge's own courtroom. Rita, a lawyer herself, defends him as she promised she would years ago. She puts the judge on the witness stand and asks pointed questions about how he condemned his wife and child to a lifetime of poverty. Rita holds him and society responsible for the conditions that led Raju to commit his crime and asks the judge to forgive him and admit that Raju is his son. Raju, in turn, offers an impassioned plea to the court to punish him as a criminal but not to neglect the conditions that gave rise to his life of crime. In the end, a very moving scene of attempted reconciliation between father and son had me wiping away the tears.

Awaara is reminiscent of both 40s film-noir with its dark cobblestone streets and menacing shadows and, in its social conscience, of the great Italian neo-realists like de Sica. But basically, Awaara is still in the Bollywood tradition; that means drama, romance, music, comedy, and action -- all put together in a total package to appeal to a wide audience. With great songs and dances, amazing dream sequences, style and panache, strong drama, and an inspiring message, it is not surprising that Awaara became one of the most popular films in Indian cinematic history. It is one of my favorites as well.

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