I don’t fear backlash: Rishi Kapoor

From being born into Bollywood’s first family to struggling to find his niche and now a second innings — the veteran actor isn’t holding back in his book

Updated - April 30, 2020 06:22 pm IST

Published - January 13, 2017 05:16 pm IST

As we wait to meet Rishi Kapoor to talk about his new book, Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored (HarperCollins), we are warned about his temperament. The 64-year-old actor walks into the room demanding that the air-conditioner be turned up. “An actor must look good, the AC noise doesn’t matter,” he declares with typical Kapoor flamboyance, and as the temperature lowers, so do his inhibitions. “I am a difficult person to work with,” he says, “but the end results are always good.”

Kapoor decided to officially open up in his as-told-to style autobiography with journalist Meena Iyer. From entering the industry as the son of superstar Raj Kapoor, being typecast as Bollywood’s lover boy, struggling with failure and depression, meeting Dawood Ibrahim, and surviving cold wars with wife Neetu Kapoor to his second innings in the Hindi film industry, the veteran actor recounts his over four-decade-long journey as an actor and as a person.

How forthright have you been in your telling?

When I was approached by several publishing houses, I realised it was important for an artiste, whose journey started from the age of two, to be documented. A road-map for people to follow my follies, achievements, failures, and successes. When people say that Rishi Kapoor was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, I can’t deny it. Of course, I was. I got a break with Bobby , which was made by my father, but what after that?


When my films started failing, I was on my own.I had to swim in the choppy waters of the action era , of the angry young man. I survived the onslaught of cyclones like Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha — all action heroes. I was the only musical hero at the time, and it was very difficult . My life hasn’t been of one continuous trajectory. I’ve been in the limelight since I was two. Ever since I was two years old, I’ve been in the limelight. I did a cameo in my father’s film, Shree 420 (1955), and I was throwing star tantrums even then. I couldn’t keep my eyes open because of the rain and I used to cry. So the only way they got me to do the shot was by getting Nargisji to bribeing me with a chocolate bar to keep my eyes open and complete the shot.

What kept you going through the action era?

My determination, my forthrightness, and my sincerity to do whatever I was doing. By God’s grace I came up when I went down. Of course there were failures also, but that was an era which was completely an action era, and was a time when a lot of young boys and newcomers didn’t survive. Maybe it was luck. But due to my sincerity and determination, I kept going.

Do you still throw tantrums like you did as a two-year-old on the sets of Shree 420?

(Laughs) No, but you got to bully these guys out of love. Not that I’m very easy to work with. I’ve said it in my book that I’m difficult and not very easy to work with but the end result is very satisfying.

Has your criteria for selecting roles changed over the years?

Of course, I have to do something that is suitable for my age. I’m fed up playing a father. There are one-two of those that I’m doing which are very interesting, but I would like to portray characters like I did in Do Dooni Chaar (2010), Agneepath (2012), Kapoor & Sons (2016), Patiala House (2011) and Luck by Chance (2009). I never received such roles in my heyday, so to say. I am very happy to have played a variety of roles in my second innings; and I’m quite enjoying it.

Do you still fear being typecast, perhaps in the role of a father?

At this age, you don’t get typecast. When I was young, I could do only romantic films, I could not do action, and action guys couldn’t do romantic.

Did you play it safe with your autobiography after facing backlash on Twitter?

Why should I? I’m not scared of backlash. But yes, I do take the bull by its horns. People who follow me on Twitter know what I’m all about.

My fan following — whatever I have — has been largely supportive. They have always backed me up.

You also wrote about your experience with clinical depression.

It’s a psychological disorder I went through. I was just married and lost my popularity.

Do you see more acceptance and understanding towards actors opening up about depression today?

There was no media as such then. There was not much help.

You cope with yourself, you learn by your mistakes.

So how did you pull through?

I just did. I had to.

You mention that you had differences with Shakun Batra while filming Kapoor & Sons

I’m a malleable actor. My only concern was when he used to film one scene from every angle — repeating emotions is very difficult. I had make-up done six hours before the shoot, so I was stuck in that, and doing the scene again and again tired me, and made me irritable. But today, I am winning awards for the film, so I am thankful to Shakun Batra.

What’s your reaction to being referred to as Ranbir Kapoor’s father today?

I am very proud of it. It’s on my Twitter bio, son of a famous father, father of a famous son.

You wrote that you regretted doing Besharam (2013). But would you want to work with your wife Neetu Kapoor and son Ranbir Kapoor again?

Of course, I would. It’s not that I regretted. I said that it was a film that didn’t work with me. I guess if Ranbir wasn’t there and there was another hero in it, it would’ve been a successful film.

But he created such a position for himself that the audience wanted him to be something off the curve and different.

Looking back at your life, what’s your biggest regret?

There are no regrets for the simple fact that I always got what I wanted, and I did justice to it.

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