In the peak of Rajesh Khanna era, the first superstar of Bollywood and heartthrob of millions, especially females, came a new face, a chocolate boy in real sense, Rishi Kapoor. Showman Raj Kapoor, trying to recover from near bankruptcy situation due to flop show by his magnum opus and dream project, Mera Naam Joker, decided to change track and make a quick love story, Bobby, with his second son Rishi and another newbie Dimple in the lead. And what a movie it turned out to be! Hum Tum Ik Kamre main bandh hon, Main shayar to nahin, Jhooth bole Kauwwa Kate became household anthems, Dimple a sex symbol and Rishi a youth icon. I was young but craze was to be seen to be believed. It ran and ran for weeks with people watching it multiple times and brand Bobby was there all over the merchandise – bags, tiffins, bottles etc.
While Dimple chose to call it a day tied the knot with superstar Rajesh Khanna, Rishi went on to becoming the darling of the crowds, giving hit after hit. Khel Khel Mein, Jhootha Kahin Ka, Rafoo Chakkar, Hum Kisi se Kum Nahin … it’s an endless list. Though people yearned you see the encore of Bobby’s lead pair, which was not to be till early 80s when they gave another hit Sagar, Rishi formed adorable pair with Shoma Anand, Ranjita, Kajal Kiran and host of other newcomers, but his pairing with Neetu Singh became especially very popular. Of course, the two went on to become life partners and became proud parents of today’s superstar Ranbir Kapoor, which is a different story altogether.
Rishi was versatile who didn’t depend solely on his drop dead good looks. He took challenging roles, wore his dancing shoes successfully and kept on reinventing himself in different genres. In his later years, he put on weight and his transition into doing character roles was seamless.
Rishi would have completed his half century in Bollywood in the next couple of years, having made his debut in 1973. But the destiny had something else in store for him. A virulent strain of cancer kept him in US for prolonged treatment and he seemed to have conquered his ailment bravely. However, that was not to be! After Irrfan’s sad demise yesterday , Rishi’s death today has plunged Bollywood into a pall of very deep gloom. A country saddened by COVID facing multiple tragedies makes us yearn for deletion of the year 2020 from our calendars.
He was a true torch bearer of the illustrious Kapoor family founded by Prithviraj Kapoor, taken to new heights by Raj Kapoor and then forged ahead by Rishi. Ranbir has all the making in him to carry forward this legacy, but loss of Rishi is irreplaceable especially now that he was coming out of his boyish charm and doing some very meaningful roles.
RIP chocolate boy!