Not just the Original Loverboy, Rishi Kapoor was his Original person, who would stand out for his fearless, unabashed and unapologetic views on anything and everything, much unlike the rest of Bollywood that towed a line of political correctness

By Namrata Kohli

He posted a picture of a sale at Zara’s ripped jeans and t-shirts with a caption – ‘Buy two get one begging bowl free.’ That’s Rishi Kapoor for you, who will not keep thinking about pleasing brands, lobbies, khandaans and people but do only one thing- please himself and unapologetically air his views. He later said in an interview, to be selling torn jeans for Rs 3,000 is an insult to India where people live in poverty and we should be ashamed as Indians of actually endorsing it.

And yet this would never be said with bitterness. On the contrary there was a child-like enthusiasm and a certain abandon in his personality which made him endearing than others.

It was a great experience to read his autobiography, replete with examples of forthrightness, wit, candour and sharp comments. True to its title “Khullam Khulla” is a no-holds-barred account of his life and relationships. His first chapter opens with the actor saying –“His (Raj Kapoor’s) girlfriend was the leading lady of some of his biggest hits of the time, his in-house heroine, the lady immortalized in the RK studios emblem.” Later he was asked how could he have mentioned about Nargis when no one in the Kapoor khandaan had ever denied or confirmed this, to which he responded- “whether we like it or not, it’s a fact.”

He even wrote about how Amitabh and he didn’t start off on best of terms – “I was immature and defiant back in 1970s .. I think he was sulking because I had won the best actor award for Bobby while he expected for Zanjeer. I am ashamed to say it but I actually ‘bought’ that award.” A practice which is so common across any and every industry of buying awards but he put it with so much honesty that whether he earned the award or not, he surely would have won many a hearts.

He mentions his encounter with Salim of Salim-Javed fame when they offered him the movie Trishul and he refused it- “do you know that to this day nobody has said no to us. We can destroy your career.” To which he asked- “What can you do to finish me?” Salim said we had offered Zanjeer to Rajesh Khanna and he turned us down. We did nothing to him only created an alternative called Amitabh Bachchan and destroyed Rajesh Khanna.”

Throughout the book, he gives credit to his wife for being able to live with him and she must get a reward for this, he says. He mentions in his autobiography- “When Neetu gave up her flourishing career at the age of 21, she was one of the top actresses of her time. Today girls begin their careers at that age.” He says unless his sister Ritu had “plotted” his engagement to Neetu, he “would not have taken it to next level.”

People might say that acting was in his blood and discredit him with legacy and other things. But what about his siblings- his talent and personality shone with its own light in a crowd of wannabe star kids. Not just then but even in his second innings he was a super success with unconventional roles in movies such as 102 Not Out, Do Dooni Chaar and many more where he got a chance to expand his genres from subtle to slapstick, from tragedy to comedy – he mentions that what came with a multiplex audience was people with “new sensibilities”. Of course he was the eternal lover by who became the effortless style icon for the trendy and colourful sweaters.

He was true to himself and nothing defines his persona and his life better than the title he chose for his own book- Khullam Khulla.

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