Just the way many have aspired to ascend the throne of showmanship, of late movie parivars have attempted to – inadvertently perhaps – that they are the first family of Indian cinema. Good try. In vain.
Both in style and achievement, the film family founded by stage-and film Leviathan Prithviraj Kapoor remains unbeatable. The grand old man had featured in Indian cinema’s first talkie Alam Ara (1931), spawned a brood of three sons and grandchildren who have carried the torch forward, each one in a distinctive way. Regarded as the Barrymores of India, the Kapoors have evidently lived life with grandiloquence.
In fact, one of the most unexpected twists in the plot of Mumbai moviemaking, has been that after a point – during the 1ate 1980s and then through the 1990s — the Kapoor girls could continue in a profession considered as a male
preserve by the robustly hedonistic clan.
It was nothing less than a surprise when Karisma Kapoor set the movie career ball rollin. Her mother, Babita, with determination, ensured that there would be no stopping her. Babita and Randhir Kapoor had separated, there seemed to be an almost story-book like resolve in the mother tomake stars out of her two daughters.
From what is gleaned, the mother and daughter did not receive any support from the father. It is said that the father did not side with her daughter, Lolo, when she was in hospital unable to attend a shooting schedule for Pramod Chakravarthy’s Deedar. On the producer’s formal complaint, a film trade body saw red; the impasse was overcome as most shooting schedules are. However, it was a traumatic phase that a woman and her teenaged daughter are never likely to forget.
The third generation Kapoor girls are a study in bucking traditional and familial imposition. Today time and again, rumours abound that the Kapoor males want to sell the R K studio in Chembur, and the legendary R K cottage, a five-minute-drive away. Auspiciously, these have remained rumours.
Meanwhile, the Kapoor girls-turned-women have forged, as they often say in film parlance, their own destinies.
Destiny, however, any rationalist will tell you needs accessories of drive, talent and being at the right place at the right time. Karisma Kapoor didn’t have it easy, but there’s no doubt that the Kapoor surname helped. Today, she dilly-dallies between a movie comeback (projects with Onir Ban and David Dhawan were mere conjecture) and a married life that has jetting between Delhi and Mumbai.
No peas in a pod
Meanwhile, sister Kareena — younger than her by six years—is more volatile and politically incorrect (and that sets her apart from the tribe of fake smile flashers). Right now is the time for her to get more business-like.
Aishwarya Rai and Rani Mukherji are no longer the young Veronica and Betty they used to be. Bebo has age and intelligence on her side – intelligence because no one in the outset of her career would have grabbed
as hungrily as she did. Frequently media campaigns are launched against Kareena and die a natural death. And while both Shahid Kapur and she have cried themselves hoarse, saying that they are in no hurry to get married, it’s for Bebo to remain what she is — a straight-talker, open to movies ultra-glamorous and ultra-real and most importantly, a young woman with a mind.
Mind of her own
She had studied for a brief while at the Bombay Law College. It isn’t difficult to imagine her in the lawcourts but as “destiny” willed it, she was at courts constructed at the Mehboob or Filmistan studios.
That there is an irrevocable distance between the Babita and her daughters and Rishi Kapoor-Neetu and children has been evident. Yet, there is a dignity about this; family differences have been kept behind the four walls of the Kapoor homes. And if there is ever a crisis point, the Kapoor clan rallies together, like they did when the Karisma-Abhishek Bachchan engagement was called off.
Those who stayed away
Rishi-Neetu’s daughter, Riddhima, could have surely become an actress if she wanted to. Sensibly, the parents left the decision to her, the way they did to their son Ranbir. Riddhima chose marriage over high-potential careers in the
movies, the media, fashion designing and even the restaurant business.
She may have opted to stay away from the lights-action-camera, yet there has been something strongly self-willed about her, a Kapoor girl who in amanner of speaking, elected to switch off the limelight.
Shammi Kapoor’s daughter, Kanchan, stuck to the traditional Kapoor bahu image. She accompanies her father and husband, filmmaker Ketan Desai, occasionally to film events, but otherwise the pallu-covered lady has been the quintessential housemaker.
As unlike her cousins as Brighton is from Bombay, Sanjna Kapoor has been the true blue, independent spirited Kapoor girl. The daughter of Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal, she retains her parents’ sense of humour and crusading zeal for the family’s Prithvi theatre.
Married once to filmmaker Aditya Bhattacharya, associated with theatre-person Makarand Deshpande for years and now with wildlife conservationist Valmik Thapar, her life would make a script for a Shakespearewalla. But chances are that she doesn’t consider herself exciting enough (her foray into filmdom via Hero Hiralal was disastrous and she said so).
There are many scenes from the lives of the third generation Kapoor girls that could assert their individuality and independence. Suffice it to say, Indian show-business has been richer because of their binding credo — jeena yahan marna yahan.