Ek aakhri bar- Bolo Om Shanti Om!
It has been a terrible week for Indian cinema. It is almost like the lull and boredom of the lockdown evaporates to the Heavens, melancholy settles over the Gods and they decide to enliven their world and raise the spirits (no pun intended) by calling upon two of the most iconic stars of the industry. All of this in a span of 48 hours! We were just beginning to accept the demise of Irrfan Khan, when another tragedy hits us in the face.
Rishi Kapoor is no more! The heartthrob of the 70s, Bollywood's original chocolate boy, the charismatic Rishi Kapoor who could melt a million hearts with his smile, now rests in peace. His energy and enthusiasm was boundless. My first memory of Rishi Kapoor is from the movie Kabhi Kabhi. As a girl born in the 80s, weekends were very predictable for all of my cohort. Saturday evenings would see a lockdown of sorts, in the entire neighbourhood. Almost everyone would be glued to their TV sets for the 7pm, Hindi movie telecast. The most exciting part of the screening was the anticipation and the surprise factor. I would squint my eyes, scan the Censor Certificate and be the first to shout out the name of the movie to mom, who would be hurrying to get us chai and biscuits to gorge on.
One such evening, Doordarshan was playing Kabhie Kabhie. I must have been about 8 years old, but for me, Vicky (Rishi Kapoor's character name) epitomized all that a prince was supposed to be. He was literally like a fairy tale prince with his boyish charm, smiling eyes and pink lips. The part where Neetu Kapoor and he break into the song "Pyaar kar liya toh kya, pyaar hai khata nahi" symbolised challenging the rules of the society, flouting the norms and being oh! so defiant in love. It was Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh who idolized the concept of boy meets girl, unabashed love and happily ever after, for me.
Rishi Kapoor was the Royal prince of many hearts. Royal because he was the blue-blooded descendant of the first family of Bollywood, born into aristocracy and prince because he never really lost his charisma and charm to old age. He could make any girl's toes curl with the question "Kya tumne kabhi kisi se pyaar kiya?"
Rishi Kapoor's work needs no validation. Winning the National Award for his role in 'Mera Naam Joker' at the age of 10, was the stepping stone of a vast and expansive career spanning six decades and the ratification of a legacy, he was destined to leave behind. It is amusing that a person so eminent in talent was most lovingly called Chintuji!
It is only after I grew up, did I understand that ever afters also came with an expiration date. Nothing lasts forever, our lives, relationships, achievements and failures are all so transient in the eternal universe.
As you traverse across the worlds in this Chandni night, we will forever be indebted in your Karz for having put life into so many characters. Not just Kabhi Kabhi, you have forever made us swoon, sing, laugh and cry Khel Khel Mein with your movies. You were no Joker but a Bobby at heart. Rishi Kapoor you were the Akbar but in our hearts you will always be Amar🙂