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Home / Bollywood / Rishi Kapoor dies at 67: His co-stars pay heartfelt tributes

Rishi Kapoor dies at 67: His co-stars pay heartfelt tributes

Actors and filmmakers open up about the magic of Rishi Kapoor and their memories of the late actor.

bollywood Updated: Apr 30, 2020 16:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

As we speak to more of Rishi Kapoor’s co-stars and colleagues, we bring to you their personal tributes for the late actor, who dedicated almost four decades to Hindi cinema, and breathed his last on Thursday, after a tough but brave battle against cancer.

Aruna Irani: “I feel so sad. I don’t know how to process this news, I don’t know how to express this grief. I loved him as a human being. Actors bahut aayenge bahut jaenge, there will be no one like my Chintu baba. I don’t know why he left us? He was always kept in touch with me even when he was in New York and then when he came back. He never lost touch with me.”

Rakesh Roshan: “I am not okay at all. How can I be? I lost my friend. It is too early to even think of my memories with him, I am still not being able to get over the shock of the news. I can’t believe that he is not with us. I am feeling very, very lonely, He was my friend. I don’t know what to say.”

Dharmendra: Main bahut dukhi hoon. It is heartbreaking to hear...ek sadma laga hai. God is testing us. He was a talented and brilliant actor. After fighting cancer, he was on his way to get better. Rishi was a jolly man, a fine artiste and I remember, we would keep laughing and chatting while shooting films. It was fun working with him. We always met warmly at events and functions. We kept in touch on and off. I would watch his films and look at his photos and notice that he looks well. And now to hear about this shocking news is devastating. Hamaari film industry ki royal family, the Kapoor family, ka chirag bujh gaya.

Prem Chopra: He was a great friend, a great human being, a great actor. It’s terrible to know that he is no more and I hope Neetu and everyone in the family can bear the loss. It’s a personal loss to me as well as he was like a relative and we had such great memories which he had mentioned in his autobiography. We worked together in many films and our last one was Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi (2017). He was very intelligent and was always seeking for new learning. I feel so sad that the two greatest actors of the film industry - Irrfan and Chintu are gone.

Rati Agnihotri: I am at a loss of words. How can you talk about Chintu in the past? I can’t believe that this has happened. He was such a fantastic actor and wonderful co-star. He was so alive and loveable. Everyone who would work with him would only admire him all the more. How can he be not there? I know Neetu ji is a strong person and his family have been strong during his treatment but I think there’s a limit to their strength. I can’t even think what they must have been going through now. Chintu was a strong person. His strong viewpoints would raise several questions. He was never scared of anything… I wish this isn’t true. Chintu can’t leave us so soon.

Padmini Kolhapure: “All I can say is I am shocked I am numb. I can’t even believe that he is gone. He was a great actor, a great person, a great soul and a great contributor to the Indian film industry. He has left us and I feel a very strong personal loss for me.I thought of him every day, he was on my mind every day of my life , he was a part of my life , my growing up years were with him... so you can imagine how big this loss is for me.”

Shreyas Talpade: I don’t know what more this year has in store for us in the coming weeks and months. I was reading the formal message that Rishi ji’s family has sent out, and how he was battling this for a couple of years. Among all that, he not only kept himself positive, but also the people around. I got a chance to work with him in Housefull 2, he was a jovial guy, always chatting, and trying to entertain. He was a complete entertainer. Rishi sir, with the kind of body of work he had... In fact, in the last two years, he portrayed roles which no one would have thought. This amazing, good looking chocolate hero would play negative hero, or even an old guy in Kapoor and Sons. I can’t imagine how devastating it must be for the family. It’s very unfortunate.

Leena Yadav: How can you possibly say enough about Rishi Kapoor? It has been the most amazing experience of my life to work with him (in Rajma Chawal; 2018). By talking about our work relationship I feel I am again compartmentalising my life and experience. That isn’t right. I had a so many conversations with him and they were so fulfilling. I haven’t met anybody like him. He was so childish yet so mature. That’s the magic of him as an actor. He was so unfiltered, uncensored. The reason why he was so relevant even today and would continue to be in future… I don’t think this is the end of his journey. This can’t be it.

Mohnish Bahl: I see all the films I did with him as an opportunity to have spent time with a wonderful human being. Eventually, that is what life is all about, isn’t it? When you look back at your life, you look at the time you spent with people. Chintu ji was a beacon of positivity, and used to call me his ‘lucky mascot’ in the 1990s, as we did so many films. When I would tell him this and this was not (successful), he would say ‘oh forget about them’ in his inimitable style. What always comes to me is the sparkle in his eyes when you met him. This news is horrible. I hadn’t met him for a couple of years now, but the knowledge that one never will, that’s painful.

Sanjay Kapoor: I have grown up with Chintu ji. His youngest brother is my closest friend. He was hence like a big brother to me, and will be missed by me and the world as an actor and a person. This is very tragic, and I hope 2020 gets over, it’s so sad. Every moment with him was like a memory, I really cannot pinpoint anything. We worked together in Luck By Chance. I also met him in New York when he was going through all this, but he was still smiling, talking about movies, so full of life. That’s the way people should remember him.

Poonam Dhillon: This is such a terrible time to have to go through this. Everybody is feeling so helpless. I met him when he came back from New York, even two months back. He had recovered and so grateful to have beaten such a horrible disease. He was the most unassuming person, the most natural, effortless actor. He was so outspoken and I would pull his leg on whether he would open his heart on Twitter after a few drinks and he would laugh and say those things come to him naturally. He was an actor per excellence. Sad that in his last day there’s restriction to pay our last tribute to this true gentleman.

Chunky Panday: It’s deeply saddening. We’ve lost a pillar of our industry who had contributed so much to Indian cinema. He would always speak tongue-in-cheek and to the point and would never be scared of anyone. I last met him in New York when he was going through his treatment and he was full of life even then. Now that he is gone, he will live in our hearts through his films forever.

Waheeda Rehman: I’m shocked and saddened to hear of Rishi passing away at such a young age. I first met Chintu at RK studios when I was working on Teesri Kasam with his father, Raj Kapoor. He was very cute and a chubby little boy. Many years later, he turned up as a svelte adult and I worked with him in Kabhi Kabhi. He was initially reserved with me, stating that I was his father’s contemporary but during the outdoor location in Shrinagar he warmed and we remained friends since then. I did three more movies with him, Coolie, Chandani and Dilli 6. During Diwali and Eid food used to to be sent from each others homes. And we enjoyed catching up whenever we chanced upon a meeting. My heart goes out to Neetu, Ranbir ans Rhidima. May his soul rest in peace.

Umesh Shukla: He was like my elder brother, a friend. I just spoke to him last month. We were looking forward to do another film. I had a subject ready and he was eager to discuss the idea. This shouldn’t have happened. How can he leave us like this? When I was going to work with him people warned me saying that he is short-tempered, but I never had any such experience. He was jovial and a very spontaneous actor. He would ask the right questions. Rishi ji was very sensitive as a person but you would only see that side of him when you know him for a long time. When I went to meet him in New York along with along with Abhijat Joshi and Saumya Joshi, it seemed like we were the patients and he was lively as usual and would say, chalo yaar sab thik hai aab jaldi kaam karte hai. His energy was infectious.

Subhash Ghai: My association with Chintu started from 1976, then Karz happened in 1980. It was made with such passion, and survived till now after more than 40 years. When Raj Kapoor saab saw Karz, his family became mine, and mine his. I met Chintu last year to ask him to come to myfilm institute, we wanted to present him with an award for being a legend. He refused, and said his work was his biggest award, going to a shoot every day. Aise aadmi mein ke baare mein kya kahenge? If you have to name the top five actors in India, Rishi Kapoor will be there. In his second innings, he surprised me by playing the role of an old man. He was the one person who would always call or message me even after a flop film, and say ‘don’t be depressed, you are the best’. We worked in Kaanchi too. He was always believed to be a chocolate hero, and never considered as a character actor. But he’s the one who ruled after Amitabh Bachchan.

Ramesh Sippy: I directed Shammi Kapoor in my first film Andaz, later Shashi Kapoor in Shaan and Rishi in Saagar, soI have had a close connect with the Kapoor family for years. We often met at parties and events over the years. He was a natural and an effortless actor that he hardly needed guidance in scenes. His eyes were so expressive that they added magic in scenes. Of late, the character roles he played- especially in Agneepath, Kapoor & Sons, and Mulk were such brilliant performances. Personally, he was brutally frank and I found him to be straightforward and that was appreciated by people as he didn’t offend anyone.  

Gulshan Grover: I lost my mentor and a big brother. When I first shared the screen space with Chintuji in Hawalaat (1987), he was very supportive and encouraging. And that meant a lot to me. He would share the food that he would get from his home. He would never be diplomatic in his talks. He was kind enough to do a cameo in director Soumik Sen’s Badman (2016) on my request and didn’t take a single penny. I met him last in New York when he was going through his treatment and he agreed to come and inaugurate my book Bad Man there. I’ll never forget what he has done for me. He will be badly missed.

Ali Haji: Even at the age of 5 in Fanaa, I knew he was an icon. When you think of Bollywood, the few faces that immediately come to mind are him and Mr Amitabh Bachchan. That was my understanding of him, somebody that was colossal and really important. He was extremely jovial and a nice aura to be around. Even when I was young back then, he used to crack jokes on sets saying I look like mini Rishi Kapoor. Back then, I didn’t realise the magnitude of it. I have some memories of shooting the film with him in Poland, and how once we got stuck. He was there with us through the entire thing. I will always remember him.

Satish Kaushik: He was a very special person. He’s an icon of romance. He had been a romantic star. I would sneak out to watch Bobby. After being a fan of the superstar for so long, I got the chance to be directed by him. I last met him on the sets of Sharmaji Namkeen where we were working together. A little work is still left to be done. We decided to catch up at his home after the shoot. Soon after returning from New York, he resumed work. He was a very warm and lovely person. The biggest regret is that we couldn’t be there by him during the last phase of his journey. During the shoot of Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999), he made sure that we got to eat the best food. He would take me to some popular food joints. I haven’t had the chance to talk to Neetu ji and Ranbir because they are going through a tough time and I wanted to give them their space. He was all heart and he used to love me a lot. He had once come to watch my play. I wish we could all go and pay him our last respects.

Divya Dutta: Rishi Kapoor defined life. He lived his life king-size and to the fullest. He taught us how to live. He was an outspoken and zestful person who had a clean heart and was a brilliant actor. He’s a legend. I’ve grown up watching his films and he was my absolute favourite. He epitomised romance and love. When I was shooting with him for Delhi 6 (2009), I couldn’t believe that I was working with him. I remember a few of us singing his songs and playing a guitar and night and going up to him. After that, I did three-four films with him. He was so warm and encouraging. He always told me that he would want to do some really good films with me. When he came back to India, I went to meet him. Who would tell that he suffered so much and gone through such a tough phase! He kept smiling. This is a huge blow to our industry. Goodbyes, especially at a time like this, are more sad. My condolences to Ranbir, Neetu ji and Riddhima. They’ve been such huge support to him. The best Jodi, for us, was Rishi and Neetu. It’s a heart-breaking damage.

Shakti Kapoor: My heart is crying. It is a huge tragedy and in a time when one can’t even go to pay their respects. In the morning I read that he is in the hospital and half an hour later I learnt that he is no more. It was such a shock beyond words. I couldn’t believe it. We are all close to the Kapoor family and Chintu and I knew each other since our 20s. We would laugh and cry together. He is one day younger to me and we have celebrated many birthdays together. He fought his cancer really hard and we were constantly in touch.

Juhi Chawla: Just a few days ago, I thought to myself that I hadn’t enquired about Chintu ji and I should send him a message. And this morning when I heard the news, to say I was shocked is an understatement. I was devastated. I cried .. the grief was too much... “Not Chintuji,” I thought. This is too sad. I have so many happy memories of him. I have laughed so much on the sets with him... how could this happen ... this is truly heartbreaking. How fragile life is ... how much we take it for granted. How we think we are going to last forever, but in one moment, it’s all over... This is very sad Chintu ji. I am going to miss you very much

Sobhita Dhulipala: It is a privilege to have shared screen space with a legend like him, not only was he a through delight off camera but also had the easy grace of a man who understood the beauty of being in the moment. Someone who knew what did matter, after all. For any of us, losing a family member gives way to a moment of grief and quiet acceptance. It is a family that gave this country so much joy, laughter and insight. I hope their spirit rises again to show us how Rishi sir does indeed live on; through unabashed originality, artistic elegance and a flair for lightness.

Anirudh Tanwar: Till today I didn’t know myself how important Rishi sir was in my life. It shakes me up thinking what his family would be going through. Since morning I’ve not been able to speak to anyone but my father… Wish I could speak to Rishi ji right now and all this is just a bad dream. I was intimidated by him when we first met on the sets of Rajma Chawal, but he broke the ice and had taught me so much. Playing his son onscreen, somewhere he turned into a father-like person in real life too. We would wish each other on birthdays and festivals. He would tell me that he is feeling better and was excited to go back on the sets. I was blessed with a son last year, and when I told him that I wanted him to bless my child, he was so happy. He was an extraordinary person and actor, the reason why so many people are feeling his loss... even those who didn’t know him personally. I just wish his family strength. May his soul rest in peace.

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