The passing away of an icon | HT editorial
Rishi Kapoor belonged to a film family. But he stood apart for his sheer talentUpdated: Apr 30, 2020 19:14 IST
When Rishi Kapoor first emerged on the big screen — playing a young student who fell in love with his teacher in Mera Naam Joker — his acting talent was noted and he won a national award. But he also evoked curiosity for his lineage — he was Raj Kapoor’s son and Prithvi Raj Kapoor’s grandson. Belonging to what many may consider Bombay cinema’s first family is what gave Rishi Kapoor the opportunity to enter the world of cinema.
But it is truly a testament to his acting prowess that Kapoor so quickly outgrew this element of his identity. With Bobby, and a range of other romantic films in the 1970s, he emerged as a film icon with his own independent identity, loved by fans, particularly women, and praised by critics for his timing. He excelled in both films where he was the solo star, as well as in multi-starrers. But Kapoor’s biggest strength was his ability to evolve. After a somewhat rough patch in the 1990s and an indifferent attempt at direction, he found his niche, playing character roles of his age. Be it as the hero’s father or elderly friend, or an underground don, or middle class protagonist, or most powerfully, a Muslim in contemporary India (Mulk), Kapoor brought his distinctive touch to each role. Admirers also got to know the man behind the actor through his outspoken tweets in recent years.
Kapoor’s death — he had been battling cancer — on Thursday, and the outpouring of grief it evoked is a testament to how much he meant to so many people. He has left behind an incredible body of work spanning close to five decades. But few things made him more proud than his son, Ranbir Kapoor’s, success. The family tradition will live on, but Rishi Kapoor will stand apart.