Why Rishi Kapoor was an actor of all seasons and master of all genres

Updated: Apr 30, 2020, 10:56 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

Rishi Kapoor was not just a romantic star of the 70s, but also a rousing and riveting actor. He was the master of all genres and an actor of all seasons!

Picture Courtesy: Instagram Account/Rishi Kapoor Fan-Club
Picture Courtesy: Instagram Account/Rishi Kapoor Fan-Club

When an actor wins the National Award for his first film, you know he has it in him to hook the audiences with his performances. We are talking about Rishi Kapoor, arguably one of the greatest actors to grace the silver screen. He made his first celluloid appearance in 1970 with his father and filmmaker Raj Kapoor's Mera Naam Joker, where he played his younger version, a boy who has fallen madly in love with an older woman. The naïveté helped and so did the raw innocence, the emotions felt real and so did the heartbreak.

Raj Kapoor's greatest validation was to see his son being awarded the prestigious National Award and making an impression right from his debut. It was 1973's Bobby that made him a sensation and a scintillating star. He was the new romantic hero on the block. When Amitabh Bachchan was enjoying his Angry Young Man persona, Kapoor gave Hindi Cinema the world of romance.

This continued for as many as 25 years. It was then time for him to take a sabbatical from films since he was too exhausted playing the same hero who was romancing his heroines on the mountains, wearing designer sweaters, and playing the guitar. It was only after the millennium that he began to get roles that were both unique and unconventional. It was now time to tap inside the actor who was till now a shining star.

The nation finally realised how Kapoor could be an actor of all seasons and the master of all genres. Let's talk about Do Dooni Chaar first, a delightfully warm film about a teacher and his slice-of-life drama. He aspires to buy a car for himself and his family and tries every trick in the book to fulfil this dream. For all those who have seen this little gem, they would know what it takes to be a part of a middle-class household and how expensive dreams can be. The crippling fear of unfulfilled dreams and desires can emotionally break you.

Another such emotionally-driven performance was in Zoya Akhtar's greatest film, Luck By Chance. He played filmmaker Romi Rolly, a happy-go-lucky narcissist who takes a lot of pride in making the career of his protege, Zafar Khan. He's hit by a reality check when he encounters the brutal reality of the glamour world and how it can be driven by callousness and selfishness. It was a memorable performance in a memorable film.

In 2012's Agneepath, he played Rauf Lala, and it was after ages that we saw him in the role of an antagonist. There was something very chilling about his cold-bloodedness. His unkempt aura and deep baritone added to his character's hideousness, and not to forget, his despicable demeanours. A year later in D-Day, he modelled his character on the Underworld Don, Dawood Ibrahim, and it was a charismatic and controlled performance, never once going overboard or out of control. The man knew his craft and characters and also the fact that it takes a lot more than a good story to charm the audience.

In 2016's Kapoor & Sons, he took up a tricky part, he played an 86-year old grandfather in a film about a dysfunctional family. He was the happiest character of this film. All the other characters had their own conflicts, chaos, and confusions. He was the only one perpetually smiling and spreading happiness. His was such an adorable performance that we could weep at his shenanigans at times. Who said only comedy can make you laugh and drama can make you cry?

It's still impossible to believe he's no longer with us to give us some more exemplary performances. He passed away peacefully today morning at 8:45 in hospital after a two-year battle with leukaemia. 

With all these films, Rishi Kapoor proved he was an actor who could pull off any role with effortlessness and enigma. Today, as he departs, he leaves behind some unforgettable characters, some blockbuster films, and legendary music. Rest In Peace!

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