Remembering Rishi Kapoor: Goodbye to the bright-eyed star
A trip down the memory lane recalling the unforgettable works of the heaertthrob of India
Rishi Kapoor was a reincarnation specialist. Literally, yes — with his dual turns in Karz (1980) — but also figuratively, in how he reinvented his acting canvas with each new turn in Indian cinema. It’s an emotion that deeply underscores our mourning, as there will never be a Rishi Kapoor comeback again. The actor passed away on April 30 after a two-year-long battle with cancer.
Rishi was born to the screen, having made his debut at the age of 3 in his father’s Shree 420. In that image of three kids stomping through the rain, Rishi the smallest and the most bright-eyed, one senses (perhaps only in retrospect) the curious advent of a star. The miles would add up, first as young Raju in Mera Naam Joker (1970) and later in Bobby (1973), his heart-stopping romantic debut opposite Dimple Kapadia.
Rishi both rode the waves and didn’t. While blustering action cinema held sway through the ‘70s, he stuck to flagrantly romantic roles, appearing, twinkle-eyed and cherubic, in films like Laila Majnu, Hum Kisise Kum Naheen and Sargam. Ever the family man, he would intersperse this period with gracious ‘younger brother’ parts, most famously in the triply-loaded Amar Akbar Anthony.
The tenderness lingered (Prem Rog released in 1982, Chandni in 1989), but Rishi was also looking beyond. His tentative experimentations through the ‘90s (Dewana, Damini) took full bloom in the new millennium, as he adapted and evolved with changing trends. A new generation of fans, more susceptible to lightness and candour than scene-stealing charm, discovered him anew with Luck By Chance, Do Dooni Chaar, Agneepath, D-Day, Kapoor and Sons and Mulk. The candor spilled onto his Twitter persona, often overbearingly so, but more important was the fact that he was connected — to fans, to cinema and the cultural zeitgeist at large. That connection was tested on Thursday morning--tested, not severed. It likely never will be.