The Hindi film industry has been struck with a second consecutive tragedy again today. After the hugely talented Irrfan Khan yesterday, popular matinee idol Rishi Kapoor passed away in Mumbai this morning-both died of cancer after prolonged battles. Both belonged to entirely different genres of acting but both were acclaimed and won many prestigious awards and hearts of millions of cine-goers. Rishi Kapoor was the younger son of legendary actor and unparalleled showman of Bollywood Raj Kapoor The news was broken by Rishi’s elder brother and actor Randhir Kapoor.
Bitten by the film bug from a very tender age watching films in our family theatre, I grew up with films and Hindi film songs in the early 1950s, a habit that goes on even today. So, nostalgia takes over while writing on films and film personalities. Raj Kapoor’s films were an obsession and never missed any. In 1970's film “Mera Nam Joker” was released which was made by him in almost half a dozen years considered as his magnum opus and the longest ever Hindi film with two intervals. He featured his younger teenage son Rishi Kapoor in this roughly autobiographical film, as the joker of his schooldays. Rishi proved that he was the chip of the old block essaying a brilliant portrayal which won him the first National film Award for Best Child Artist. I recall the sensitive, sensual scenes with his teacher in the film Simi, on whom the teenager had a crush.
“Mera Naam Joker” was an extremely expensive film but was a financial disaster which made showman Raj Kapoor almost broke. It is another matter that today, the film is considered a classic. To recover his loss, it is said that he made a purely cliched commercial potboiler with an oft repeated storyline of a rich,18 year old Hindu boy Raj Nath [Rishi Kapoor], falling in love with Bobby[Dimple Kapadia], a poorer Christian teenage girl from the fisherman community. Bobby was Rishi Kapoor’s debut film as an adult and his performance was loved by the audience and won him the Filmfare National Best Actor Award. For his father, Bobby recovered the loss of Mera Naam Joker as Bobby turned out to be one of the biggest box office grossers. Rishi Kapoor also proved to be a dancing romantic hero.
Rishi Kapoor was hailed for scores of films like Laila Majnu, Sargam, Rafoo Chakkar, Prem Rog, Heena, Bol Radha Bol, Kabhi Kabhi etc; the list is exhaustive. Acting in multi starrers like Diwar and Amar Akbar Anthony with Amitabh Bachchan and other big stars, Rishi became a household name. I remember another hugely successful commercial film, Karz with Tina Munim which had the dancing sensation Rishi Kapoor stealing the show with songs like Om Shanti Om, Paisa Yeh Paisa and the sensitive performance of another number Dard-E-Dil Dard-E- Jigar. We saw his acting prowess in later films like Chandni with Sridevi, Vinod Khanna and Waheeda Rahman. In the 2018 film Mulk, his role as Murad Ali Mohammed is memorable. How can we forget his courtroom scene with Taapsee Pannu?
Rishi Kapoor’s last released film was’102 Not Out’ in 2018, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan. Even after his return from the U S for cancer treatment the 67year old Rishi Kapoor had not hung his boots. In fact, he was shooting in Delhi till January this year for the film Sharmaji Namkeen with Juhi Chawla.
Rishi Kapoor married Neetu Singh in 1980 after co-starring with her in a dozen blockbuster films like Khel Khel Mein, Kabhi Kabhi and Amar Akbar Anthony. Their son Ranbir Kapoor is one of today’s highest paid Bollywood Actors who has a sister, Riddhima Kapoor. In Rishi Kapoor’s death Bollywood has lost one of the most prolific actors and the industry is dumbfounded for the loss of yet another stalwart this terrible week. His co-stars and the entire film fraternity is mourning his death and are paying glowing tributes to him along with millions of his fans.