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Jagte Raho
(Stay Awake)

Directed by Sombhu Mitra and Amit Mitra.
With Raj Kapoor, Pradeep Kumar, Sumitra Devi.
India, 1956, digital video, black & white, 138 min.
Hindi with English subtitles.

Something of a departure for Kapoor, Jagte Raho is a joint Bengali-Hindi film with expressionist touches meant to provide a comic yet critical survey of middle class life in India’s cities. Kapoor plays a familiar role: a poor wanderer from the country, he enters an apartment building in search of a drink of water. Taken as a thief by the inhabitants, he flees from flat to flat, encountering a cross-section of the building’s inhabitants. Kapoor produced this film for collaborators he had met through his father’s work in the theater and the leftist Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association. Co-director Sombhu Mitra was one of the giants of 20th-century Bengali theater, while scenarist K.A. Abbas – who also worked on Awaara – was a prominent writer, critic and director and a major founder of India’s “parallel” cinema.

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