Only, Rishi Kapoor was and is so much more. Few actors in Hindi cinema have had this sort of a career arc: from the gawky adolescent pining for his schoolteacher (Mera Naam Joker, 1970) to the naughty ninety-year-old (Kapoor & Sons, 2016), Rishi Kapoor has regaled audiences for close to fifty years. He won a National Award for his debut, became an overnight sensation with his first film as a leading man (Bobby, 1973), and carved a niche for himself with a string of romantic musical blockbusters in an era known for its angst-ridden films. He was the youth icon that is still the toast of the satellite TV circuit. The songs he lip-synced are the bread and butter of all radio stations even today. Then there was the second coming after a brief hiatus in the 1990s – as one of the finest actors in mainstream Hindi cinema with powerhouse performances in films like Do Dooni Chaar, D-Day, Agneepath and others. Characteristically candid, Rishi Kapoor brings Punjabi brio to the writing of Khullam Khulla. This is as up close and personal a biography as any fan could have hoped for. He writes about growing up in the shadow of a legendary father, skipping school to act in Mera Naam Joker, the workings of the musical hits of the era, an encounter with Dawood Ibrahim, his heroines (their working relationship, the gossip and the frisson that was sometimes real), his approach to his craft, his tryst with clinical depression, and more. A foreword by Ranbir Kapoor and a stirring afterword by Neetu Singh bookend the warmest, most dil se biography an Indian star has ever penned.
Shashi Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor are my all time favourite Kapoors. Shashi at number 1 and Rishi following close behind. Therefore I was excited at reading Shashi’s biography and now was ecstatic to read Rishi’s autobiography.
In this one let me just talk about Rishi Kapoor though.
Since I was a kid I have watched Rishi Kapoor’s movies and I loved him best with Neetu Singh. Even before I knew they were married in real life. I was so happy when I found out as if I had met my dream man myself.
One fine day as I was going through my twitter timeline, I saw him mentioning his book (yes, I follow him on twitter).
I was excited to read the biography of the man I had liked for so long. Then began the long wait.
Finally, I got my hands on the book and started reading it… and it was disappointment personified.
To begin with, Ranbir Kapoor says that Rishi Kapoor is a very reserved father and not much open to his children and I am like, what? Who am I reading about? Have I just made a personality for him based on all his movie characters?
Moving on, for the most part Rishi Kapoor goes on and on about his father. And that is something I do not want to read. I don’t mind him mentioning his father because his father is part of his life but I do not want to read about Raj Kapoor. If that would have been the case, why would I pick up a book on Rishi Kapoor?
From all the movies, I figure him to be quick witted but a humble man. A very personable man. But the tone of the book verges on arrogant. So much so that no one else matters or is good enough in the entire Bollywood in the past, present or future!
And then there is so much repetition. I guess I have learnt the names of his movies by heart now. I can always look that up on Google! I don’t want to know who produced which of his movies and who sang what songs! That is all publicly available!
I want to know what makes Rishi Kapoor the man he is. But that was nowhere to be found.
Gave up after a hundred pages. Thoroughly disappointed.