Guwahati: On July 8, Indian Actress Neetu Singh Kapoor turned 63. She appeared in a number of films throughout the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. She was one of the most promising faces of that time. But hardly anyone knew that she would quit acting after getting engaged to late Rishi Kapoor.
Like her career full of romantic movies her real-life love story was no more than like a fairytale – the teen romance that transformed into a rock-solid relationship weathering the highs and lows. One of the most iconic onscreen and off-screen pairs, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh’s love story has touched many hearts.
The couple exchanged vows in 1980. With Neetu, Rishi Kapoor co-starred in the films Kabhi Kabhie, Amar Akbar Anthony, Doosra Aadmi, Khel Khel Mein, and several other projects.
Neetu Singh was a child artiste. A time when young girls were sitting in class rooms, she was facing the camera. By the time she entered her teens, Neetu was already playing leading lady. Bought up by a single parent for her working in movies were a means to an end. While Rishi Kapoor was the son of “the show man”, Raj Kapoor and films were in their DNA. Playing his father’s younger self in Mera Naam Joker, Rishi made his official debut as a leading man in Bobby in 1973. Both were pole apart but as it says opposite attracts worked in their case.
The couple started dating when Neetu Singh was only 14 year old and Rishi Kapoor was already an established star. The first time they had come together on-screen was for the film Zehreela Insaan (1974). Both stuck in an easy friendship off screen. In the couple’s own words, Neetu was Rishi’s confidante, his buddy who patiently heard about his girlfriends and heart breaks. They were magic on screen, their reel life chemistry so real, that it was only a matter of time till sparks flew between the two.
Apparently, realisation dawned on Rishi on an outstation shoot that he missed his friend a lot more than was normal. He sent her a telegram with the words “yeh sikhni badi yaad aati hai”. Her joy knew no end, but there was a catch!
He didn’t want marriage. So much so, that through their courtship, which began in 1975, he told her, “I will only date you, but never marry you.
But, Neetu’s mom, Rajee was not too happy with the turn of events. Neetu was too young, only 14 years, and was just climbing the ladder to success. She did not want to set the tongues of the industry insiders wagging about their relationship. That is why, whenever Rishi took Neetu out on a date, her mother would send her cousin along to act as a chaperone.
However, a dozen films and five years later, things turned out to be different. Rishi Kapoor proposed Neetu Singh which he kept quite low and confidential. Neetu was over the moon, but something kept her nagging with guilt as she was the sole bread-winner of the house and she did not want to leave her mom all alone. But to her surprise Rishi invited Neetu’s mom to stay with them after their marriage.
The two were married in one of the most lavish ceremonies; she was 21 and he 26. This wonderful fairy tale had its own share of twists and turns. The Kapoor family was known to be very patriarchal and a Kapoor bahu was expected to leave the industry and become a housewife. Neetu too did the same. Some people claimed that Neetu was forced into an early retirement. But, she hit back saying it was her personal choice and Rishi was a very supportive husband.
In the late 1990’s the insiders of Bollywood claimed that at Rishi was turning into an alcoholic. And some newspapers even carried reports of a domestic violence complaint being filed by Neetu against Rishi. Some also reported that Neetu had left her husband. However, putting the rumour mills to rest, Neetu had returned to the Kapoor household and took care of her husband and children.
While Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh’s marriage was interrupted by brief turbulences, she refused to give up on their relationship. In Ranbir Kapoor’s words, “I have seen them fight, but my mother is a rock. She is the one who has kept us all together.”
Nevertheless, Neetu Kapoor did return to the film industry after 1983’s Ganga Meri Maa with Love Aaj Kal in 2009 in which she starred opposite Rishi Kapoor. A year later, she appeared in Do Dooni Chaar opposite her husband as well.
39 years later, the couple made the perfect picture of togetherness, and as they faced every challenge together and ensured that there is nothing love and faith cannot overcome together.