I was fond of Raj Kapoor in my growing days and it was not merely his cinema but most importantly his ‘voice’ Mukesh and Shailendra, the legend who wrote the lyrics of his films because I felt they speak of my heart. It looks as if the role he is playing is like what I was feeling and facing. Mukesh’s voice gave the lyrics or the words, soul, the atma. Somewhere, in those years, I refuse to see those films which take you to pain. The voice of Mukesh and the lyrics of Shailendra gave you an insidious happiness even in ‘dard’. Our sweetest songs are those that tells us the saddest thought, said PB Shelley.
But later, I realise that this ‘sweetness’ in sadness is a bit more difficult for those who face the tyranny of life and are fighting at every level for their survival, those who look for peace of mind and happiness. Hence It became difficult for me to watch most of those film which brought ‘lot of rona-dhona’ i.e. pain and agony, it brought. When life was so tough that you face it, you can’t go to see a cinema to further go into depression. A slowly, I started a deep liking for youthful music and pure entertainment. I decided to look at the cinema from purely entertainment point and not to get any ‘knowledge’ from it.
Rishi Kapoor belonged to an illustrious family of creative people. Of course, he had the privilege of being born in a legendary family. His grandfather Prithviraj Kapoor was brilliant, as an artist and so were his uncles, who had their own niche. Being born in a legendary family can give you initial links but can never guarantee your success. The cinema in the subcontinent is different as it addresses mostly our sentiments. Some succeeded raising the social issues while a majority failed to do so.
While I never considered Rishi Kapoor an actor when he was playing those youthful roles but he had already become a star, artist as he never got that opportunity because most of the role that were designed for him was of a heartthrob of the young, a romantic hero so he did what was expected of him, roaming around the trees and beautiful locales but one thing was certain that if you count the top successful unforgettable films of the Hindi cinema both in terms of revenue collection as well as quality work, then Rishi was part of them. He started as a Child artist in Shri 420 with the famous ” Pyaar hua ikraar hua’ song and then became part of his father’s most ambitious film ‘ Mera Naam Jokar’ as a child artist. The film bombed at the box office even when it had grand sets and powerful star cast. Raj Kapoor became depressed with this and had lost everything in terms of finances.
In less than few years’ time, Raj Kapoor realised perhaps that people don’t want to see him as a lead artist and now time was to focus on the youthful charm and came his film Bobby, with Rishi Kapoor as the lead role along with Dimple Kapadia. The impact of Bobby was extraordinary on youths as they thronged to the cinema halls to watch it. Rishi Kapoor became the darling of the youths and his ‘ hum tum ek kamare me band ho’ or ‘ mai shayar to nahi’ became immensely popular songs. After that his next film with his father was Prem Rog, an excellent film on the issue of the widow remarriage. He portrayed that role very well.
But Rishi Kapoor’s youthful persona was exploited by film makers and he became part of super hit films produced by others. Kabhi Kabhi, Laila Majnu, Karz, Naseeb, Amar Akbar Anthony, Coolie. In some of these films, he was the sole lead star while in many he worked with other stars particularly Amitabh Bachchan and the two had a very good chemistry but apart from pure entertainment, there was nothing in those films.
But his real artist emerged in Ek Chadar Maili see and then Chandani which became a super hit because of beautiful cinematography, light music and of course the stunning locales of Switzerland. still Rishi was the charming young boy but when he realised that he should now do the special character role, there he shined. The last I saw him was 102 Not Out with Amitabh Bachchan and I can say he shined. There were many films where he started ‘acting’ and I think if he had survived, he would have thrived in these specific roles as Amitabh Bachchan is doing.
One thing that I want to make it clear. I am not a film crazy and in fact post 1990s, saw very few films. Most of the films I saw was during my college days but what I want to say here, watch films for entertainment. Many watches for education too but Indian films are basically meant to relieve you. Second, don’t make your opinion based on the ‘political opinion’ of these ‘stars’ as they go according to the ruling party of the time. There are very few who have strong political opinion other just become ‘nationalists’ as they have to survive the income Tax regimes. So, I give a damn to the political opinion of the film stars unless he is a political person from the beginning so that we can analyse his thoughts and work, otherwise leave them. Enjoy them for their work, if you like otherwise leave them. Don’t take their political opinion seriously.
Two things I would mention at the end. Rishi Kapoor will be remembered for the hottest and youthful songs as well as perhaps some of the best ‘Kavvaalies’ like ‘parda hai parda’ performer in the films. Of course, like his father, he looked perfectly natural with a ‘Dapali” and a guitar singing ‘ Om Shanti om’ or No other actor of his time can look that natural in these musical instrument as he so enjoys his youthful songs to remain young. Rishi Kapoor will remind us the power of youthfulness and charm of romance in our life. Enjoy his films for that entertainment and get out of depression. I personally felt that his acting talent would have flourished at this stage but then perhaps his life never wanted to see him old as the image that all of us has about him is the ‘ khullamm khulla pyaar karenge’ or ‘Chandani’. style.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
April 30th, 2020