Our showman in Hollywood

Raj Kapoor has been quietly growing in stature, these days being the best known for his production work on the Oscars

Ritu Jha

 

Raj Kapoor may share a name with the legendary figure of Hindi cinema, but the Hollywood-based creative director and producer would laugh off any comparisons.

Raj Kapoor

Kapoor has a long history in Hollywood, being involved in everything there from movies to television and live shows. This year, his biggest do was the Oscars.

Kapoor told indica that while the Oscars were not quite a global brand a few years ago, focusing on promoting mostly Hollywood themes, in the past few years it has been really doing a good job of honoring people from around the world.

He should know. Kapoor was part of the show that addressed the passing of two icons of Indian cinema, Shashi Kapoor and Sridevi Kapoor.

“People from all around the globe watch it. It’s been a huge honor to work on this,” he said.

He has worked on projects with Carrie Underwood, Eminem, Usher, Rihanna, Nikki Minaj, David Guetta, DeadMau5, N.E.R.D., Mary J Blige, Maroon 5, Tony Bennett, Katy Perry, Paul McCartney, Kid Rock, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, the Dixie Chicks, Josh Groban, Selena Gomez, Beach Boys and Britney Spears.

He even worked on Michael Jackson’s last tour before the musical icon died.

His television credits include the Grammys, Billboard Music Awards, The Voice, American Idol, Dancing With The Stars and the X Factor.

Raj Kapoor with Glenn Weiss the television director for the Oscars 2018. (Photo courtesy: Raj Kapoor)

Kapoor has also mounted large-scale tours for Shania Twain, the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Rascal Flatts, and for shows such as American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, and So You Think You Can Dance.

He wants to be involved in all the other big shows, including the Super Bowl and the Olympics if he gets a chance.

Born in New Delhi, raised in Canada, Kapoor, 49, has a thriving production company, the eponymously named Raj Kapoor Productions.

He said he once dreamed of serving as co-producer at the Oscars. Now he has done it for the second consecutive year. This year, he produced all the live musical performances, creatives and digital screen content, working with Tony and Emmy award winner and scene designer Derek McLane. That is, anything McLane visualized, Kapoor brought to life on stage and the LED screens.

“If you saw the first award [presentation] there was this big movie palace [model], that’s what we created,” he said, going on to describe other highlights, including the big rings of light during Sufjan Stevens’ performance of ‘Mystery of Love.’

His team starts work early for such events, he says. For this year’s Oscars, it got together last November, with all-day rehearsals Friday through Sunday. This year, the group wanted salute both the classical and glamorous past and the glitzy future of Hollywood.

“It’s challenging, but everybody I think at the Oscar always wants to give their best work because it’s so prestigious,” Kapoor said. “I think [there is] pressure [to ensure] that everybody puts their best foot forward and makes the show what it should be…. From the way the movie stars dress to how people are treated, it has a different feeling from so many other shows.”

Kapoor said he feels he is always learning.

“I did the Oscars last year and this year. I feel I learned each time,” he said, adding that each time he finds out what can be done better, and how processes can be streamlined.

Sujfan Stevens on stage at the 2018 Oscars performing “Mystery of Love.” (Photo courtesy: Raj Kapoor)

“It takes a team to pull off big shows like this. So, [we have] to have to learn what everybody else contributes. It’s a team effort to put together the end vision,” Kapoor said.

Kapoor headed to Hollywood when he was just 21. He participated in Star Search, a TV show that sought to find hidden talent. He hung around and ended up doing a lot of TV shows, commercials and music videos.

His parents, both school teachers, were not sure he was doing the right thing but let him go anyway.

“I have always made my own way and never asked them for money and I think they are very proud of that,” Kapoor said.

Asked if it was hard getting a break, Kapoor replied simply: “I was very determined to be here. I always dreamed of being on them but wasn’t sure how. But when I first started working on these shows, I felt like a dream had come true because I have watched them since I was a child. Now, to be able to contribute creatively, have my vision seen on those stages, and have people from all the world get to see some of my work, it’s really unbelievable.”

 

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