Rishi Kapoor dies at 67: A powerhouse performer who could play romantic hero, dreaded villain
India lost another gem in quick succession; actor Rishi Kapoor passed away in Mumbai, aged 67. The veteran actor started his career as a child actor, going on to earn kudos steadily during a career spanning over four decades.Updated: Apr 30, 2020 11:30 IST
As veteran actor Rishi Kapoor passed away on April 30, the Indian film industry’s misfortunes couldn’t have been worse. Only on Wednesday, India lost one of her gems, Irrfan Khan to a rare form of cancer.
Rishi was the son of legendary actor Raj Kapoor and hailed from the first family of Bollywood. The actor had been diagnosed with cancer in 2018. He had been to New York for treatment and was said to have successfully overcome the dreaded disease and returned home to India in September last year. However, as a statement from his family said, his battle continued over two years and two continents.
Rishi begun his career as a child artist in his father’s Shree 420 in the year 1955, featuring in the iconic song from the film, Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua. However, his career began in right earnest when he went on feature in Raj Kapoor’s much-talked about film Mera Naam Joker (1970), playing the younger version of Raju (the adult role was essayed by Raj Kapoor himself). The young actor made a mark as a teenager who develops a crush on his school teacher, played by Simi Garewal.
Rishi was to play his first adult role in his father’s production, Bobby. Along with veteran actor Dimple Kapadia, the couple would become the most-loved pair in 1973, when the film released. Since then, through much of the 70s era, Rishi successfully kept the world of romantic stream of Hindi cinema alive in the midst of that hurricane to hit Bollywood called the ‘Angry Young Man’ phenomenon. His films like Rafoo Chakkar (1975), Khel Khel Mein (1975), Laila Majnu (1976), Kabhie Kabhie (1976), Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977) his cherubic looks and boyish charm would sooth the nation’s romantic needs. It was during this period that he formed a formidable romantic combination with actor Neetu Singh, who would later become his wife.
Rishi also formed a troika of sorts with leading men of the era such as Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna featuring his social drama-cum-comedies such as Amar Akbar Anthony and Naseeb. He also gave solo hits like Karz during this period. In fact, Amitabh and Rishi formed a winning pair appearing in a number of films together such as Coolie, Amar Akbar Anthony, Naseeb and Kabhi Kabhie to name a few.
With the coming of the 80s era, even as Jeetendra and Sridevi starring South remakes ruled the roost, Rishi remained relevant acting in films such as Saagar (1985) and Nagina (1986). In fact, Sridevi’s Yash Chopra association too began with the film Chandni which starred Rishi and Vinod Khanna.
Through much of the ’90s, younger stars like Anil Kapoor and Sunny Deol were the toast of the crowds but Rishi still kept giving an odd hit like Damini (1993). In the 2000s, Rishi pretty much retired from active acting though he kept appearing in characters every now and then. Then, 2009, Imtiaz Ali cast him in Love Aaj Kal and the vintage Rishi was back.
Rishi’s last innings was just iconic as his early years. He showed his calibre as an actor taking not negative roles with a gutso. In films like Agneepath (2012), fans were struck dumb to see the romantic hero of the ’70s as a dreaded villain of 2000. He appeared in several lovable character roles such as Student of the Year, Kapoor & Sons and 102 Not Out in recent times. He played a role modelled on Dawood Ibrahim in D-Day proving he was truly enjoying his second stint under the arc lights. Before being diagnosed with cancer, he had starred in a hard-hitting socially relevant drama Mulk, where he played an elderly Muslim in the midst of a courtroom drama.
Rishi Kapoor, hailing from a prominent film family and having been launched by a famous father, that despite privilege he was a powerhouse performer. In his passing away, India loses yet another gem.
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