Business Standard

Rishi Kapoor: An actor exits, the star continues to shine


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Some people are born in the lap of luxury and some, like Rishi Kapoor, in the spotlight of fame. As Raj Kapoor's son and Prithviraj Kapoor's grandson, the stardom was destined but the legacy of good acting was very much his own.
High-spirited, sometimes irascible and always outspoken, the talented Mr Kapoor died after a two-year battle with leukaemia on Thursday, his acting boots still firmly on at age 67.
The third generation of the famed Kapoor dynasty that fused stardom with a tradition of acting, Rishi marked three innings in cinema child actor, romantic hero over three decades and finally character artiste when he transformed from chocolate boy lover to malevolent villain (Agneepath'), harried tutor (Do Dooni Chaar) and potty-mouthed grandfather (Kapoor & Sons).
One of Hindi mainstream cinema's most enduring stars, Rishi did almost 150 films over five decades six if you count his walk on part when he was just a toddler during the song Pyaar Hua Iqraar Hua in his father's film Shri 420.
Of these, almost 90 were as a romantic hero. In an age dominated by action stars, he was the eternal lover boy, dancing and serenading actresses from his contemporary Dimple Kapadia (Bobby and Saagar) to a much younger Urmila Matondkar in Shreeman Aashique.
Almost always the urban hero from an upper crust family, Rishi could be seen twisting and shouting in scenic locales, strumming a guitar, driving trendy cars and dressed in colourful sweaters that became his trademark.
Some of the films were fun, good and live on in memory (Chandni, Karz, Doosra Aadmi) and some quite forgettable, even bad.
He made the most of the hackneyed roles offered to him as the poster boy of romance, often turning up as part of an ensemble cast in films such as Kabhi Kabhie, Amar Akbar Anthony and Naseeb.
By his own admission, Rishi, or Chintu as he was known, said he was slotted as a romantic hero and could never have done experimental films.
"Ranbir did a 'Barfi'. I could never do 'Barfi', 'Sanju' or 'Rocket Singh' in my time. I could never do these kinds of experimental films, which worked big time, he told PTI in an interview last year.
Later in life came experimental roles in films such as Mulk and Luck By Chance.
Rishi was flipping how the world saw him, from star-actor to actor-star, his star status finally being subsumed.
This, his final innings in cinema, was cut short by his devastating illness.
His latest cinematic appearance was in "The Body", with Emraan Hashmi, in December 2019. The next, a remake of the Hollywood film The Intern with Deepika Padukone was announced but alas never got off the ground.
Acting was his lifeblood, and his love for food, family, friends, and films his raison d'etre just as it was for the rest of the Kapoors.
With his grandfather, father and uncles Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor he was to cinema born. There was almost nothing else he could have done.
In 1970, his father cast him in Mera Naam Joker as the young Raju. Three years later, came the blockbuster Bobby, again directed by his father, that set him firmly on the romance path.
And somewhere early on the road to stardom, he met the love of his life Neetu Singh The couple did many films together such as Khel Khel Mein, Rafoo Chakkar and then very recently Do Dooni Chaar and the quite forgettable Besharam.
They got married in 1980 and had two children, Ranbir, an actor-star like his father, and daughter Riddhima.
It was a glass bowl life under the flashlights. There was little that was not known about the famous Kapoors.
For years, his Twitter bio read, son of a famous father (Raj Kapoor) and the father of a famous son (Ranbir Kapoor)

It was reflective of the man, who never backed out of an argument or hesitated in speaking his mind.
The Twitter profile was later changed to issue a challenge to trolls, I do not think people are are understanding. Any joke, barb, comment on my lifestyle that will make me block you. Now up to you!

From being at loggerheads with the media or trolled for admitting he was a "beef eating Hindu" to recently urging the government to open alcohol shops to get by during the lockdown, which began on March 25, Rishi Kapoor was undaunted and fiercely opinionated.
His last tweet was on April 2 when he made an appeal to to all brothers and sisters from all social status and faiths to not resort to violence, stone throwing or lynching.
Doctors,Nurses,Medics, Policemen etc..are endangering their lives to save you. We have to win this Coronavirus war together. Please. Jai Hind!

The same forthrightness is mirrored in his 2015 autobiography Khullam Khulla. In which he unhesitatingly talks about his father's relationship with Nargis, his first girlfriend and Rajesh Khanna's insecurity about his equation with Dimple and how he almost turned down Kabhi Kabhie because Neetu had a larger role.
He also admitted in the book to buying a a film award for Bobby.
"I think that Amitabh was sulking because I had won the best actor award for Bobby. I am sure he felt the award was rightfully his for Zanjeer, which released the same year. I am ashamed to say it, but I actually bought' that award. I was so nave.
Brutally blunt even when it came to himself. Not many people would probably admit to actually paying money for an award.
But that was Rishi Kapoor.
His family disclosed in a statement that doctors and medical staff at the hospital said he kept them entertained to the last.
A video, purportedly his last, did endless rounds of social media on Thursday. A medico is singing to the camera while Rishi is on the bed, smiling widely and saying "mehnat karo".
It may or may not be authentic.
But it was time to say goodbye. And for his fans there was no better last look of the man they loved so.
A five-decade journey on celluloid has wound to an end.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Apr 30 2020 | 5:44 PM IST

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