Rishi Kapoor, the actor who went from cherub to Chintu uncle
Rishi Kapoor had an extraordinarily long career in Bollywood, having gone from playing teenagers to old gangsters. The actor died at the age of 67 on Thursday; he was diagnosed with leukaemia two years ago.Updated: Apr 30, 2020 13:00 IST
In what will go down as one of the most devastating weeks in Indian cinema history, actor Rishi Kapoor died at the age of 67, a day after his D-Day co-star and fellow screen icon Irrfan Khan. Rishi, like Irrfan, had been diagnosed with cancer.
A proud member of the legendary Kapoor family of Bollywood, the actor was known for his jolly nature and frank conversation style. He received the National Film Award for his debut role as a child artist in his father Raj Kapoor’s 1970 film Mera Naam Joker (1970). His first role as an adult lead came a few years later, in Bobby (1973).
Known for having sustained an especially long career, Kapoor was the quintessential Bollywood movie star in his prime, appearing in several box office hit romantic musicals. But noticing that his solo films were more likely to flop, the actor began appearing in two-hero movies such as n Khel Khel Mein, Kabhi Kabhi, Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, Badalte Rishtey, Aap Ke Deewane, and Saagar.
Kapoor got a strong second lease in his career, when he moved defiantly to playing character roles. It was around this time that he came to be affectionately known in the industry as ‘Chintu uncle’. He won acclaim for performances in films such as Delhi-6, D-Day, Kapoor & Sons, 102 Not Out, and Mulk.
In 2018, the actor switched base to New York City, where he was said to be undergoing treatment for cancer, although the actual nature of his illness wasn’t revealed until much later. Ever the optimist, Rishi downplayed his condition in an interview. “We’ve ruined cancer by showing it so poorly in our films. Today it’s treatable,” he said.
He maintain this spirit throughout the episode, telling Hindustan Times after having responded to treatment, “You can’t just be mourning and not doing anything about it. You have to take charge of life and get things in control and deal with it.”
Kapoor is survived by his wife, Neetu, and their children, actor Ranbir Kapoor and daughter, jewellery designer Riddhima Kapoor Sahni.
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