'You have to leave the embers on'

Rishi Kapoor  

A chance tweet, a surprise message, and a phone call later, I get the golden opportunity to meet one of my favourite heroes, Rishi Kapoor. The charisma that scorched screens for decades remains intact and nothing seems to have changed this man and meeting him was nothing short of a fan girl moment. I began by asking about his bio on Twitter. It reads: “It’s true. I am the son of a very famous father and the father of a famous son. I am the hyphen in between.” So where does this place him? Pat comes the reply, “I am indeed very proud of both these facts. What more can I ask for?”

With over four decades of experience in the industry, he’s an actor who’s seen it all. What does he hold close to his heart? “It’s my passion for work and my love for cinema that have remain unchanged; this is what I would like to say and believe. You have to leave the embers on, and there will be times when you hit rock bottom but you need to strike while the iron is hot. I have seen lows and I have seen highs. But I have no regrets. ”

Cinema has changed a lot since the time he debuted and he has generations of actors come and go. So what does he feel about the actors of today, I wonder. “Oh! They are extremely well informed. They have so much exposure, and they learn right from the very beginning. But I must admit that actors today put in a lot of effort in looking good. For them, a six-pack body and toned muscles are most important. But I often ask why? As an actor, one must be able to emote and act, and that can only come, like I say, with passion.”

Rishi Kapoor has never shied away from experimenting, be it Agneepath or Student of the Year. That, he admits, has come with age. “I was always the chocolate boy. I danced around trees and sang to woo my heroines. But today, I am able to finally start acting. The roles offered to me have given me the opportunity to do so.”

So, now we understand why a seasoned actor like Rishi Kapoor agreed to play the role of a 90-year-old grandfather in Kapoor & Sons. “Of course, it’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity. It’s a film about a dysfunctional family, and a grandfather who wants to get a family portrait. That apart, it’s the producers’ faith in me that has given me the strength to sit for five hours every day during my 30-plus day schedule in Coonoor. In fact, Coonoor made all this possible. Award-winning makeup artist, Greg Cannom, was called to do this job, and I only hope I live up to the role.”

Recalling his Coonoor days, he also adds how he shares a special bond with Chennai. “Yes, Chennai has a special place in my heart. I remember coming here for many films, way back in the 70s and 80s, as part of the shooting that happened back then. I have often come here with my uncles too. Besides, I am also very religious, and have travelled to Sabarimala twice.”

Today, however, he admits that travelling to Chennai has become far lesser, as fewer Hindi movies are made here. I ask him if the Chennai audience will ever see him in a Tamil film. He says talks have happened and scripts have been read, but nothing has materialised yet. As we get talking on some of his films, I mention Bobby, and how it would look if it were to be remade today. I ask him who he would like to see reprise his role. “Me! Who else? I would love to do the movie again with Dimple,” he laughs.

Still very young at heart, we talk about the influence of social media, and how actors use it as a platform to connect with fans. So, what does Rishi Kapoor really use it for? “I think Twitter is fun. I love talking about things... I do say a lot of things and express my opinions. I don’t like to hurt anyone intentionally with my views, but there are times when you are misconstrued. But I guess those are challenges that one needs to take with a pinch of salt.”

As he gets ready to leave for Tirupati, I quickly ask him about lifetime achievement awards and the recognition he has received recently. And he stumps me with a question. “Do you think these awards mean a full stop? An indication to wrap up? Then let me quickly say I am not going anywhere. I am here to entertain you all for a very long time... at least till I am around,” he winds up, with a wide grin on his face, as he walks out with the same magical smile.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 7:01:06 PM |

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