MUMBAI: Rishi Kapoor died on Thursday in Mumbai. He was 67. He is survived by his wife Neetu, his son Ranbir, and his daughter Ridhima and her family.
Kapoor was battling cancer, and had spent close to a year in New York City in treatment. He returned to Mumbai in September.
Kapoor had shot some portions of his comeback film, the comedy Sharmaji Namkeen, in Delhi in February. He was also on track to star in the Hindi remake of the Hollywood comedy The Intern.
Kapoor first appeared before the camera as a child in the 1950s. After he started his career in earnest as an adult in the 1970s, his choice of roles spanned romances, comedies, socially themed dramas, thrillers, historicals and melodramas. His films often had impassioned declarations of love, innocence, humour, chart-topping songs, trendy dancing and colourful costumes (most notably a series of bright jerseys).
His first full-scale role was in his father’s Mera Naam Joker in 1970. When filming began in 1968, Rishi Kapoor was 16, and was recruited to play the younger version of Raj Kapoor’s character Raju, a circus clown. As a schoolboy, the tubby Raju has a crush on his svelte teacher Mary (Simi Garewal). Rishi Kapoor’s performance won him the National Film Award for Best Child Artist.
In the coming years, Kapoor sealed his reputation as the ideal lover boy, resulting in such popular romances as Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977), Laila Majnu (1976), Sargam (1979) and Prem Rog (1982).
Rishi Kapoor hit the ground running with his debut as a leading man in 1973. Raj Kapoor made Bobby, a story of star-crossed lovers, as a way to recoup from the financial debacle of Mera Naam Joker. Rishi Kapoor, now slimmer but still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, played Raj Nath, who falls in love with the Goan Catholic Bobby Braganza (Dimple Kapadia in her screen debut).
Although Bobby was a box-office scorcher, Rishi Kapoor was soon exposed to one of the axioms of showbiz – you win some and then you lose some.
Whatever the quality or outcome of the project, Kapoor’s output was unwaveringly steady and dependable, the shield of trust that came free with a movie ticket.
Some of this professionalism was learnt on the job and some of it was inherited. Like the doctor’s child who is familiar with medical jargon and the policeman’s kids who can distinguish between “handcuff” and “handkerchief”, Rishi Kapoor understood the pleasures, peculiarities and pitfalls of show business very early.