“The One to Make Me Laugh Till I Cried”: The Rishi Kapoor that Family & Friends Knew

Bollywood

“The One to Make Me Laugh Till I Cried”: The Rishi Kapoor that Family & Friends Knew

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

It’s a sad day for the Indian cinema and for many of us who grew up on a heavy dose of Hindi movies. While we still grieve the untimely passing of the inimitable Irrfan Khan, this morning came bearing the unfortunate news of veteran actor Rishi Kapoor’s demise after a prolonged battle with leukaemia. Born into the first family of Bollywood – the Kapoor khandaan — the 67-year-old dedicated almost 50 years of his life to films. From the chocolate boy in Bobby whom everyone crushed on to the balding yet adorable old man in 102 Not Out, Rishi Kapoor has given us many moments to cherish. Off the screen, he was always smiling and his family and friends remember him as an elder brother, a dear friend, and an uncle who loved food.

In a heartfelt letter, Anil Kapoor remembers Rishi as an elder brother, a shoulder to lean on, a mentor for when he needed the push to carry on, but beyond it, as a dear friend all along. Calling him a “beacon of inspiration for cinema lovers everywhere”, Anil promises to celebrate Rishi Kapoor’s life just the way the late actor wanted the rest to.

His nieces Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan remember their Chintu uncle with much fondness. “Always looking over family,” Karisma writes, “Chintu uncle will miss discussing food and restaurants with you…”

For Kareena, her papa Randhir Kapoor and Chintu uncle will always be “the best boys” she has ever known.

Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar shared a picture of herself with Baby Rishi, recalling the days long gone. “Main shabdheen ho gayi hun (I’ve been rendered speechless),” she writes.

Boney Kapoor goes down the memory lane and shares some old black-and-white childhood pictures. Even at this moment,” the producer says, “just thinking about you brings a smile on my face.”

Anupam Kher, who spent time with Kapoor during his year-long treatment in the States, spoke fondly about his unassuming and child-like nature. He shared a video of them driving through the streets of New York last year.

Veteran filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who worked together with Kapoor in the classic Karz, gets teary-eyed at the saddening news. Calling Rishi as one of the top five artists in India for the past 40 years, he states that his Chintu never came across as unwell. “He had so much energy,” Ghai said before breaking down.

In a series of throwback images, he profusely expresses his grief and heartbreak at not being able to see his “best friend” for the last time due to the lockdown.

Lyricist Javed Akhtar recalls the first time he met his dear friend back in 1973 and how they kept talking all night.

“I will miss you Chintu sir,” actor Sanjay Dutt captioned his little note. Remembering Kapoor as a lasting inspiration throughout his life and career, Dutt recalls the late actor as someone who always had his best interest in mind even when Dutt was at his lowest and only continued to guide him.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in a heartfelt post remembers Rishi as his “senior schoolmate” from back when they studied at Mumbai’s Campion School. Tharoor recalls competing with the late actor in inter-class dramatics in 1967-68 and expresses his sadness at demise of an actor who “evolved remarkably”.

Imtiaz Ali, who had the opportunity to work with Kapoor on the much-beloved Love Aaj Kal, shares a personal memory from when Kapoor attended his brother’s wedding in Kashmir. “Nobody comes so far, these are formalities. He came,” the filmmaker recounts the veteran actor’s humbleness. “I haven’t met him for so long anyway,” he points out,  “I will think he is still there, smiling.”

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Time is passing. The other day he was on my set. I was nervous, he was the biggest actor I had worked with. I touched his feet and asked him to guide me. He guided me. Another day I invited him to my brother’s wedding in Kashmir. Nobody comes so far, these are formalities. He came. And when the baraat was entering the venue he said -“you guys go in front, I will come in the end”. I understood later that he did not want the attention to shift from the groom to himself. And today he left. Something precious became past today. But this time will not take him away. I haven’t met him for so long anyway, I will think he is still there, smiling. And I can still think of the little time I could spend with him, and smile with him.

A post shared by Imtiaz Ali (@imtiazaliofficial) on

Kapoor’s Karz costar Simi Garewal grives as she remembers her dearest friend and playmate, “No last goodbye. No funeral. No consoling embraces.”

So long and thank you for the smiles.

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