By Akanksha Gupta Last Updated:
In his close to five decades of acting journey, the first memory that comes to our mind when his name pops up is his debut as a child artist in his father’s film, Shree 420. After all, who can forget the sweet and adorable little boy, Rishi Kapoor in a raincoat, drenched in rain and walking hand-in-hand with his siblings, Randhir Kapoor and Ritu Kapoor! Raatein Dason Dishaaon Se Kahengi Apni Kahaniyaan, Geet Hamaare Pyaar Ke Dohraayegi Jawaaniyaan, Main Na Rahoongi, Tum Na Rahoge, Phir Bhi Rahengi Nishaaniyaan… Raj Kapoor had shared the screen space for the first time with his children, Randhir Kapoor, Ritu Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor.
Later in 1973, the Hindi film Cinema found their first chocolate-boy with innocent looks and boy-next-door charm, who had redefined love and romance for generations. Rishi Kapoor came as a Naya Daur in the film industry and Bade Dil Wala ne Zamaane Ko Dikha diya that he is the Chandni of this Mulk. With around 150 films in his kitty, he made us Deewana over his charm and left us in his Karz for entertaining us till his last breath and all we have to say is Yeh Vaada Raha that he’ll remain forever Not Out in our hearts. Kabhie Kabhie he made us laugh with his Khel Khel Mein tweets, became our Pehla Pehla Pyaar by stealing our hearts with his Zinda Dil.
On September 4, 1952, in Chembur, Bombay, Rishi Kapoor was born to the iconic legend of Hindi film industry, Showman of the Millennium, Raj Kapoor and Krishna Raj Kapoor. In the mid-70s, he had done Khullam Khulla Pyaar Ka Izhaar with the love of his life, Neetu Kapoor and together they had fought the odds before embarking on their journey of love, Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor had cemented their relationship in 1980 and their relationship was a real proof of the wedding vow, ‘til death does us apart!
On April 30, 2020, Rishi Kapoor had taken his last breath and we couldn’t help but walk down the memory lane to dig in some throwback pictures of him. As a eulogy to the veteran actor, here are some unseen and cherished moments of Rishi Kapoor from his childhood, with his wife, Neetu Kapoor, children, Ranbir Kapoor and Riddhima Kapoor Sahni and the Kapoor family.
While speaking at the 16th Pune International Film Festival’s PIFF Forum, Rishi Kapoor had revealed that as a father, his dad, Raj Kapoor wanted his children to discover their own identity. He had stated:
“He [Raj] is my guru…When I reached the set to film Main shayar to nahi, there was no choreographer to help me with the shoot. I asked sahab (Raj Kapoor) about it and he said there was no need for one. I got very upset and nervous about it as it was my first time shooting a song. But he was certain about it as he didn’t want me to copy someone else…he wanted me to have my own signature style.”
Rishi Kapoor, in his autobiography, Khullam Khulla, had candidly opened up about his relationship with father, Raj Kapoor. Revealing how and when he had stopped fearing his father, Rishi Kapoor had shared:
“I am not entirely sure when I stopped fearing my father. It may have happened with my own rising stardom. My father and I had a strange relationship. One day, I remember, soon after I had become a star in my own right, we inadvertently shared a bedroom. I was quite high and wanted to go to the bathroom. On my way back, in my drunken stupor, I turned right instead of left. Without realising it, I ended up sleeping next to my father. When I woke up I was in the tiger’s den. After all those years of fearing him, I ended up sharing a bed with him!”
And what followed after he got over fearing his father, Rishi Kapoor had continued:
“When I finally got over the fear of my father, it was replaced by an indescribable love and respect that just kept growing, especially after I had the opportunity to work closely with him. For me, Raj Kapoor was both father and guru, the person who taught me everything I know about my craft. I worked with him in three movies (Mera Naam Joker, Bobby and Prem Rog), the most for any actor after Nargis ji.”
Concluding with his relationship with Raj Kapoor as an adult, Rishi Kapoor had remarked:
“As an adult, I shared a few drinks with Papa, but I never smoked in front of him. It was just something that came from a deep sense of respect – he knew by then that I smoked. Papa was also a smoker and even after he was told to kick the habit, he’d cheat. He even smoked on the sly in the hospital when he was seriously ill with chronic asthma.”
Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor were in New York for the veteran actor’s cancer treatment when Krishna Raj Kapoor had passed away. As difficult and sad as it seems, her entire family wasn’t available to bid a final adieu to Krishna Raj Kapoor. In an interview with The Times of India, Rishi Kapoor had expressed his feelings about missing his mother’s final rites:
“That was very unfortunate. I left for the US on September 29, and my mother passed away on October 1. She knew that I had contracted a serious disorder. That entire period was traumatic for me. I was caught up with my problem. I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t have an option because I had to be here in New York. My brother told me that by the time I would get back, it would be too late. Also, I didn’t have the stamina or strength to come back.”
On the radio show, Suhaana Safar with Annu Kapoor hosted by Annu Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor had recalled the initial days of her meeting with Rishi Kapoor. She had stated:
“I had a horrible first meeting with Rishi Kapoor. He had a habit of bullying, so he would comment on my make-up and clothes, and I'd feel so angry. He was actually a brat who would bully everyone and I was very young at that time. I used to be furious with him.”
Revealing that her protective mom would send her cousin along when she used to go on dinner dates with Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor had said:
“I don't remember the exact moment. But I had signed a lot of movies. I was starting to gain confidence. My mother was very protective of me and used to send my cousin Lovely on my dinner dates with Rishi.” Speaking about their dating spree, Neetu Kapoor had continued, "I was very young, and I had never really been on a date before. This went on for three years, after which I signed 'Naseeb', 'Shaan' and another four or five big-budget movies. Then Rishi ji asked, 'You are signing so many movies, don't you want to get married?' He was thinking about it, I had no idea. He had never said that he wants to get married. We were just dating. So I said, 'There has to be a boy to get married to. Rishi ji said, 'So who am I?'"
Speaking of her mother’s reaction when she had told her that she wanted to marry Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor had said:
“I returned the signing amounts of all the movies I had signed, and then gave notice to everyone asking them to finish all pending movies. I had worked so hard in that one year (to complete all projects before marriage), you can't even imagine. And then my husband told me to finish everything, so we could eventually start a family. It wasn't that women couldn't work (after marriage) but I was tired working for 15 years continuously. I wanted a simple life.”
On Rishi Kapoor’s demise, the Kapoor family had released a statement which could be read as:
“Our dear Rishi Kapoor passed away peacefully at 8:45 am IST in hospital today after a two-year battle with leukemia. The doctors and medical staff at the hospital said he kept them entertained to the last. He remained jovial and determined to live to the fullest right through two years of treatment across two continents. Family, friends, food and films remained his focus and everyone who met him during this time was amazed at how he did not let his illness get the better of him. He was grateful for the love of his fans that poured in from the world over. In his passing, they would all understand that he would like to be remembered with a smile and not with tears. In this hour of personal loss, we also recognise the world is going through a very difficult and troubled time. There are numerous restrictions around movement and gathering in public. We would like to request all his fans and well-wishers and friends of the family to please respect the laws that are in force. He would not have it any other way.”
The disease which must not be named- is how we had treated the deadly ‘Big C’. In a Times Now interview, Neetu Kapoor had revealed her, hubby, Rishi Kapoor and kids, Ranbir Kapoor and Riddhima Kapoor Sahni’s first reaction when they heard about his cancer. In the interview, Neetu Kapoor had stated:
“My first reaction was, obviously very bad, I was devastated, my kids were devastated. We didn’t know what to do. But then we thought to ourselves that this is it, we have to deal with it. Where he (Rishi) is concerned, he was in denial. For 4-5 months, he was not himself. I think when you start accepting that this is your issue, then you are stronger. I feel he is much stronger for the past, maybe 5-6 months.”
In an interview with the Mumbai Mirror, Rishi Kapoor had opened up on his battle with the devastating disease and the struggles he had to go through. Speaking about getting diagnosed with cancer and the consequences of the treatment, Rishi Kapoor had elaborated:
“When I first came here, everyone was worried for me. The problem was detected when I was shooting in Delhi and was required to dye my hair white. I was told to immediately rush to the Sloan Kettering Hospital. I came here with my hair still dyed white. When word got around that Rishi Kapoor had gone to New York for some kind of medical examination, the rumour spread that I was so unwell that my hair had turned white overnight. To counter this, whenever friends of mine came to see me, they posted pictures so people could see what Rishi Kapoor really looked like. Thankfully, my health started improving, week after week, month after month. I had lost 26 kg as I had no appetite for the first four months. Now, I’ve gained seven-eight kg. I don’t want to look too lean, but I haven’t gone back to my original self either. Thank God for that.”
Acknowledging the immense support from his family including wife, Neetu Kapoor and children, Riddhima Kapoor Sahni and Ranbir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor had revealed how this tough phase brought the family together. He had stated:
“Yes, all my siblings, my children and Neetu in particular, who has been like a solid rock, have been around me, supporting me through all this. Right now, my daughter and grand-daughter are with me. Ranbir keeps coming every five-six weeks. I am overjoyed by all the love and concern, the solidarity of my family. Here I have to make a special mention of my niece Natasha and my elder sister Ritu Nanda who is also here for the same reason. They were our anchors who kept Neetu and me going. When your anxiety is so high you need this kind of support and such motivational people around.”
Forever not out in our hearts!