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A Tribute to Rishi Kapoor

The journey from being a charming hero to become one of the most skilled actors of his generation.

A Tribute to Rishi Kapoor

Rishi Kapoor was the son of veteran filmmaker Raj Kapoor, and made his first appearance in the movies as a 4-year old in the song sequence of “Pyaar Hua Ikrar Hua…”. He starred in Mera Naam Joker as the young version of actor-director Raj Kapoor in the film for which he won a National Award for Best Child Actor. His journey as a mainstream actor began with his adult debut in the 1973 film Bobby. The film became a superhit and brought overnight fame to Rishi Kapoor. He won numerous awards and accolades for the same. Thereon, he became the charming, chocolate boy of the film industry. 

Then in the prime of his career, he enjoyed playing the romantic hero roles, singing and dancing with beautiful actresses. Some of the most popular films of the time are Do Premee, Karz, Prem Rog, Chandni, Deewana, Damini to name a few. He is also acclaimed to have worked with 25 new actresses in their debut movies.

Though he was flourishing in his career, he has had his ups and downs in personal life. His relationship with his wife Neetu Kapoor wasn’t always hunky-dory. His wife quoted in an interview that he wasn’t an easy man to live with. Rishi has also talked about the instant success getting over him and making him extremely cocky for a while. Apart from that, Rishi Kapoor was a quite opinionated and vocal personality, popularly known for his infamous tweets. He often found himself in controversies regarding his opinions on politics, movies, directors, or actors. The media was also not often pleased with his appearances during interactions.

However, besides all his flaws, Rishi Kapoor was one of the most highly sought film actors. He made a mark amongst viewers who loved him for his cute looks, classic dance moves, and crisp acting skills. 

In the early 2000s, what he termed as the second innings of his career, he evolved towards doing roles more suited to his age. He played supporting roles in films like Hum Tum, Fanaa and Namastey London. The National Award winning film Do Dooni Char by Habib Faisal, in which he is a middle class school teacher trying to save money and keep his family happy, showed Rishi Kapoor in a new light altogether. His acting performance was lauded and got him his first Critics Award for Best Actor.

Thereon, the trajectory of his career took a sharp turn. From the mushy romantic avatar, he turned to doing character driven roles like the villain in Agneepath, Aurangzeb and D-Day. All these performances were commendable and highly appreciated by both the viewers as well as critics. He mentioned it several times in interviews that it was never him who believed in himself to be able to portray such characters. He credited the directors and producers for their contribution in making him execute the roles well.

Amidst these dark and rather gloomy characters, Rishi Kapoor appeared like a cheerful and jovial Dadu in the slice-of-life, light-hearted Kapoor & Sons. It wasn’t an easy ride for him to shoot the film as he had to sit in the makeup chair for hours for his prosthetic make-up. But the character and his performance was highly loved by audiences. He turned out to be one of the main highlights of the film which otherwise also did well. 

One of the last movies of his career, Mulk which was released in 2018, directed by Anubhav Sinha will remain my personal favourite of all his movies. The nuance, the subtlety and the calm which he showcased in this performance brought great reverence and respect in me for him as an actor. 

Overall, in his career, Rishi Kapoor got a lot of opportunities to showcase his skill in varied genres and premises, and indeed, he never disappointed the audience. From wooing them with his looks and dance moves in the first half of his career graph to wooing them with his great acting talent in the second, Rishi Kapoor was a force to reckon in Bollywood. His performances will always be remembered.