Bollywood’s ‘forever romantic’ hero bids adieu at 67

Two days. Two big losses for Bollywood. First it was Irrfan Khan, one of the finest actors of his generation, who crossed over to “the magical side of life”. And on Thursday morning, Rishi Kapoor, the “forever romantic hero” who took up some of the most challenging roles during his second innings in Bollywood, passed away at the age of 67 in a Mumbai hospital, after a long battle with cancer. The actor, who had won the National Award for Best Child Artist for his debut role in his father Raj Kapoor’s 1970 film Mera Naam Joker and became a household name with his dazzling debut in Bobby three years later, had been unwell since being diagnosed with cancer in 2018. He even underwent treatment in New York for almost a year, and returned India in September last year.

The late actor had an interesting association with iTV Network. It all began in October 2016 when the movie Chalk and Duster starring Rishi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Juhi Chawla, Zarina Wahab and Richa Chadha was being shot in Mumbai. The iTV Network was associated as a media partner with the film, which was dedicated to the cause of honest and committed teachers. Rishi Kapoor had an extended cameo wherein he played the role of a quiz master who appeared in the film during the climax. I still remember when he entered the set for the first time. He looked around and when he saw the India News logo in the background, he “Am I the quizmaster for India News?” And then laughed aloud.

The climax part of the movie is very touching in which Shabana Azmi Juhi Chawla and Zarina Wahab are put to test by the quizmaster in Rishi Kapoor. Jayant Gilatar, the director of the film, recalls how he was nervous that the shooting wouldn’t wrap up on time and Rishi Kapoor had given just four days of shooting for the film. “I was very nervous as I was not sure if the shoot might be over in the given time-frame. I went to him and requested if he could extend his dates by a day or two. Rishijee told me not to worry as the film was a tribute from his side to the cause of teachers. His words gave me a sigh of relief.” I cannot forget Rishi Kapoor getting clapped-salute from 400-odd audience which included Shabana Azmi, Juhi Chawla and Zarina Wahab, when he entered the set. He looked around and said, “Yeh kirdar aasan nahin, yeh toh Bachchan sahab ka KBC jaisa kaam karna hoga. Let me give a try,” he said and laughed aloud. A great actor and a jovial soul, Rishi Kapoor will be missed. May his soul rest in peace.

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