During an interactive session called Khullam Khulla, Rishi Kapoor spoke with great clarity about life as a Bollywood star.
“You know I went shopping in Beirut and picked up these black bell-bottom trousers which were in vogue in those days. I wanted to wear it for a song in my movie so I turned up for a shot only to be told by my dress dada that they were women’s trousers because the zip was on the hip side. It was embarrassing; nevertheless I shot the entire song ‘Oh Hansini’ in it.”
The anecdote mentioned above is one small example of the candid revelations that actor Rishi Kapoor made during an interactive session called Khullam Khulla, which was held in Dubai recently. Kapoor, known for speaking his mind without reservation, was in his element as he recounted riveting tales from his life as a Bollywood star.
Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Rishi Kapoor became famous as the eternal lover of Hindi cinema in the seventies. Paired with actress Neetu Singh in several of his films, Rishi successfully brought credibility to even romantic trifles. The ascent to the top was followed by an equally swift descent, a fact the actor admitted to with clarity. Rishi’s marriage to Neetu was seen as the reason why fans deserted him in the early eighties. He buckled under the stress of it all and Rishi’s quota of evening drinks increased dramatically.
“I was banking heavily on my film Karz but Feroz Khan’s multi-starrer Qurbani, which released a week later, eclipsed my film. I got so depressed and shattered that I used to lay down in my Ambassador car on my way to the studio just to avoid contact with the public because I thought I had let them down,” recalled the actor.
He spoke in depth about Raj Kapoor’s enduring friendship with Dilip Kumar as they both grew up in Peshawar and spoke Hindko with each other. Reminiscing about the time when his father, Raj Kapoor was battling for his life in a hospital, he remembered escorting Dilip Kumar to his room and heard him say: “Raj, get up. I have come from Lahore and I had our favourite chapli kababs there. Get up and let’s have that in Lahore.”
(L-R) The cast Kapoor & Sons: Fawad Khan, Alia Bhatt, Rishi Kapoor and Sidharth Malhotra.
The interactive session, counted in its audience, several Pakistanis and someone drew a very interesting comparison when afforded an opportunity to ask a question. Rishi Kapoor was the male lead in the film Henna opposite Pakistani actress Zeba Bakhtiyar and 25 years later he played grandfather to Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan in last year’s Kapoor & Sons. When asked about how he feels about the ban placed on Pakistani artists (that is keeping them from working in India without fear and backlash), Rishi spoke in favour of cross-border cultural exchange.
“We, as artists, don’t see ourselves to be from this country or that country and this religion or that religion,” stated Rishi thoughtfully. “Our religion is entertainment. We are the people who want to bring smiles to your face and tears to your eyes. It is unfortunate that these walls have been created but we always want to work together and my wish is that I would want to work further on with Zebas and Fawads of this world. I always wanted to work cross border as there is tremendous talent. We made it happen in 1989 when we made Henna, which was my father’s vision and his most ambitious project. We will make it happen again.”
Today Rishi Kapoor, who has held the position of a leading man in Bollywood for a long time, is seeking new avenues and according to him, his second innings as an artist has been satisfying because the roles he is playing today are very challenging. He played a villain in Agneepath and a 92-year-old grandfather in Kapoor & Sons. Having spoken up about the inclusion of Pakistani cricket players as the tenth season of IPL begins in India this week, Kapoor’s endorsement is both timely and holds immense value in these polarizing times.
Though Kapoor has lead many lives on the big screen, in the end, he will always be revered as the man who gave the world its first lesson in unabashed love and romance.
– Sadiq Saleem is a Dubai based entertainment journalist. He is also an
Instep correspondent and can be contacted on his page fb/sidsaidso.