Rishi Kapoor: An eternal romantic icon departs
The veteran actor may have been fleetingly mortalised, but his legacy stands as a shining vestige of his existence
Barely had you begun believing Irrfan’s demise when another thunderbolt arrived on Thursday morning to leave you reeling. Rishi Kapoor, that ageless romantic icon, had passed away. You had just started picturing hazy visuals of Irrfan’s very many films—all those subtle moments of acting excellence—but this news served to violently yank you away from that universe, and hurtle you into another filled with films like Bobby, Laila Majnu, Amar Akbar Anthony, Chandni, Naseeb… films of a different era, films that defined a generation. Many of Rishi’s films in his prolific career weren’t as successful, but then again, such was his charisma that you loved him in them anyway. You cut him slack and were almost eager for an opportunity to spoil him. Is it any surprise then that he was just perfect in all those band-of-brothers films, cast in the role of the youngest brother?
This moment isn’t only about Rishi. This is about Irrfan too, even if they were so different as to almost merit being seen as belonging in opposite corners. The former came from a film dynasty, and went on to further it. The latter came from nowhere. The former made hearts flutter. The latter spoke directly to your soul. The former didn’t shirk from expressing a controversial opinion. The latter was uncontroversial to a fault. And yet, they were both loved, not despite these contrasting choices, but often, because of them. They were both cinema’s children.
And it is here that a parallel can be drawn between them, though they are separated by a generation. The Rishi Kapoor of the last two decades recreated himself for contemporary cinema. In this passion for cinema, for performance, he and Irrfan are one. Indian cinema is all the weaker for their departure, and this is a twin-blow that you can barely believe, let alone make peace with. Experiencing, again, some of the highlights of their rich body of work, can help serve as therapy. These immortal children of cinema may have been fleetingly mortalised, but their legacy stands as a shining vestige of their existence: Rishi’s as an eternal romantic icon, Irrfan’s as an all-time acting great.