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Rishi Kapoor ji, Alvida, Will Miss Your Moody  Responses

The  first time I spoke to the great Rishi Kapoor, he was  running around trying to promote his directorial debut Aa Ab Laut Chalen.A mutual friend, Simi Garewal, introduced us  and I spoke to him over  the  landline (there were no cellphones  back then) at a recording studio.

He was polite and warm and I immediately liked him. But our very  next  telephonic  interview where he spoke at length on many topics and said  some harsh but true things about his  pal Jeetendra’s  daughter Ekta Kapoor, was a  misfire.

The  next morning he was on the phone berating me, “Arrey  yaar yeh tumne kya likh diya.”
I couldn’t   get it then. But I came to terms with  it eventually.  He would say things in the heat of the  moment and  then regret it and blame it on  the writer(me). One  night after a commercial actor won the National award  for best actor,  Rishiji lashed  out at  him and his family for manipulating  the  awards.

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 I knew this was trouble. Sure enough, ten minutes after  our conversation, Mrs Rishi Kapoor the very devoted Neetuji (without whom Rishi Kapoor would have been a wreck) called to say, “Please ignore what he said. He will regret it in the morning.”

I got used to  this behaviour of  outspokenness  and denial. But I never minded it. I loved his  frankspeak and that quality of honesty that he  projected in  every part  he played. After Rajesh Khanna, my most beloved  films in my growing years starred Rishi Kapoor. Bobby of course was  the love story  of my generation. I spent many hours  getting  to  know  rare facts about  the film.

 In 2011  Rishi  visited the  cottage  in  Gulmarg where   the chartbusting song Chabhi kho jaye  was shot.  On an impulse, he decided to go back to all the places where his father Raj Kapoor had shot his first film Bobby.

Rishi visited all the famous places that had given Bobby its timeless romantic fervour.”I also went to the place where we shot ‘Chabhi Kho Jaye’. It was as though time had frozen over there. The same cottage, the same greenery, the same flowers in bloom, and even the colours of the flowers were exactly the same. The outdoor portion (not the interiors they were done at the RK Studios on a set) for the song was filmed here so many years back.”

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When I  raved about Bobby  Rishi  said, “”Bobby was special. It remains special for future generations. But I can’t bear to watch myself in it. I was so young and so bloody thin, yaar! It’s embarrassing to compare what I’ve become now with what I used to be back then. Whenever Bobby comes on satellite TV, I quickly switch off or move out of the room. That boy in Bobby is not me.”

After Bobby there are many  extremely special films and  performances  of Rishiji that I will treasure forever .He was  never less than  a winner in even the shabbiest film. But he  grumbled about getting a raw deal.

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“Who will remember my films when I’m gone? All my hard work will be forgotten,”he once told me.

I wouldn’t  count on it.  Rishi Kapoor’s screen  presence has a certain everlasting effervescence .He was   never short of charm. But  also  brimming with depth in the  fluffiest  of films.  When he was getting medical attention in the US  we were connected  on the whatsapp where I’d send him songs to cheer him up.

The songs didn’t always work.

“What’s so special about this one?” he would snap back. And I’d  cringe in embarrassment.  He would  careen between  affection and hostility, and I am not very  sure where  I stood with him last.Did he like or despise me at the end? The question would haunt me forever.

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