April 29, 2020, morning: Irrfan Khan, an actor of incredible talent and in his prime dies in a Mumbai hospital.
April 30, 2020, morning: Rishi Kapoor, veteran actor and a hugely popular romantic hero since the seventies, dies in a Mumbai hospital.
Both of them contracted cancer about two years back: Irrfan had a rare form of endocrine cancer while Rishi had leukemia.
Different styles, but both relatable: Rishi Kapoor was not the next-door boy like Irrfan, he belonged to the most famous Hindi film family, the Kapoors, while Irrfan had a humble beginning; of course, both rose to the pinnacle of success doing different kinds of roles and with different styles; however, both connected with the masses instantly.
Both had still something to offer: At 53 Irrfan’s potential for more and more realistic and serious cinema was ruthlessly cut short while at 67 Rishi was steadily graduating to serious character roles with admirable ease and skill, and his tragic demise can still be called premature.
Two of the biggest celebrity deaths in India in two days; this is as unprecedented as perhaps the times we are going through. Before the boxed-up and suffocated film fraternity and the larger film lovers had time to recover from one the other cruel blow was applied immediately. Is this the impact of the COVID times? Well, we should not try going deeper into it, because these two off-screen tearjerkers would further accentuate the anguish and helplessness of the Indian people, haunted by the killer virus and the lockdown.
His father, the iconic Raj Kapoor, launched his son Rishi Kapoor in 1973 in the jubilee hit movie, ‘Bobby’ before which Rishi made his film debut with a small role in ‘Mera Naan Joker’ (1970) where Raj Kapoor played the title character. Rishi was immediately accepted by the masses as a lovely and handsome young hero in spite of his boyish looks, and since 1974 he never looked back, performing in numerous commercial ventures and giving regular hits. In fact, both of his starting films had given him awards: National Film Award for Best Child Artiste in ‘Mera Naam Joker’ and Filmfare Best Actor Award for his first lead role against Dimple Kapadia for ‘Bobby’ in 1974. He was honored with Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. From 1973 to 2000 Rishi Kapoor played romantic lead roles in 92 films; married his co-star Neetu Singh in 1980 and appeared against her in 12 movies between 1973 and 1981. After 2000, Rishi started looking at character roles and earned several Filmfare awards for his roles in several films. Notable among them are ‘Yeh Hai Jalwa’ (2002), ‘Namastey London’ (2007), Love Aaj Kal (2009), Patiala House (2010), ‘Kapoor & Sons’ (2017), and there was an onscreen reunion with his wife in the film ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ (2010). His last movie to be released (December 2019) was ‘The Body’, a mystery thriller with Emraan Hashmi. His most memorable film in a realistic character role was ‘Mulk’ (2018), directed by Anubhav Sinha.
Popularly known as ‘Chintu’, Rish Kapoor had an immense impact on us as school children from the early seventies. Our craze for him increased further due to a rather funny reason: our parents did not allow us to watch ‘Mera Naam Joker’ and ‘Bobby’ as both of the films allegedly had some ‘adult’ scenes, and our hunger was only abetted when mother decided to narrate the stories to us in dramatic fashion! Of course, in later years we began watching his movies in the cinema houses and started loving him for his looks, for his smiles, and for his comedy or romanticism or heroism. Like his uncle Shashi Kapoor, Rishi also seemed to have a positive aura or vibes in his looks and personality that made him likeable to us instantly.
The film industry and the film lovers believed, as per the news in circulation that Rishi Kapoor was getting well and better, after his prolonged medical treatment in the US. But sadly, that came to be untrue. He was hospitalized due to some complications and departed as if on a mission. His family stood behind him all the time and released a press brief that Rishi Kapoor has always been a jolly and positive person never allowing situations get the better of him, and did not even allow cancer disturb him-living his life cheerfully, for his family, fans and friends. Therefore, the family appealed to all to receive the news with a smile and not with tears as Rishi would prefer it that way. Yes, we look at him smiling, remembering all the decades of his endearing performances and knowing it very well that he is bound to influence our hearts forever; incredible it sounds, we only said this the previous day for Irrfan. Rishi Kapoor leaves behind his wife actor Neetu Singh, and mega-star son Ranbir Kapoor-one of the finest actors in the younger generation. We pray for the eternal bliss and happiness of the lovable super-star and a super human being.