What do we call Rishi Kapoor? Grandson of Prithvi Raj Kapoor, son of Raj Kapoor, uncle of Karishma Kapoor, nephew of Shammi Kapoor, husband of Neetu Singh, or a brother of Randhir Kapoor!
It is hard to be a Kapoor and yet shine froth amongst them. They are known by their savoir-faire in tinsel-town, they have an infinite talent in their genes and exercise an unrelenting sway over Bollywood.
To be born into such an illustrious family does exert certain amount of peer pressure on even an exceptional member of the lineage. Yet, Rishi could leave footsteps that are his exclusive hallmarks in the chequered history of the family. Born on 4th of September 1952, he debuted as a child artist in Mera Naam Joker (1970).
But playing the lead role in Bobby (1973) along with Dimple Kapadia made not only its protagonists but also the film's name a household word in the country. Rishi became a heart-throb amongst the Indian youth overnight.
In the ensuing films, Rishi alias Chintu had to go on a strict diet regimen to shed the chubby looks to make his features more in conformance with that of the ideal Indian hero.
Khel Khel Mein (1975), Rafoo Chakkar(1975), and Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) followed. The on-screen pairing with Neetu Singh in these flicks, eventually led to their marriage.
The marriage occurred early in Rishi Kapoor's life (by industry standards) sent a surge of dismay in his female fan following of millions. The couple was blessed with two children—girl, Ridhima and boy, Ranbir.
The coming times were difficult for Rishi, as were they, for all other actors who strived to flourish in the ever-increasing aura of Amitabh Bachchan. But inbuilt resilience of Rishi Kapoor and support of RK banner kept the juggernaut of Prince Charming on the roll.
Dafli Wale song opposite Jayaprada in Sargam(1979) permanently ensconced Rishi in the public memory. The resounding success of the films and his role therein earned him the appreciation of Amitabh Bachchan.
However, Rishi Kapoor was never admired by public when he donned the mantle of fire spewing hero. He was only accepted as a hero of romance.
That explains the success of romantic dramas like Hum Kisise Kum Nahin(1977), Laila Majnu (1976), Kabhie Kabhie (1976), Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan (1978), Prem Rog (1982) and abject failure of films like Zehreela Insaan (1974) and Gunehgaar(1975). However, by the late-eighties Rishi became a plump mellowed actor.
He started losing ground of romantic prince to a dozens of new-comers. In his self production Henna (1992), Rishi tried to, an extent, resurrect the romantic persona of the seventies and with new comer Zeba Bukhtiar, he could give the audience a sense of deja vu.
But the hype created around Bol Radha Bol (1992) failed to contain the downward spiral of Rishi's career. The performances in films that followed were equally lacklustre.
But an undaunted Rishi Kapoor, a veteran of over a hundred films keeps on appearing on the screen with Love Ke Chakkar Mein (2006) being the latest.
In a career spanning three decades Rishi Kapoor tried his hands in other aspects of filmmaking producing Prem Granth (1996) and Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999). He directed the former as well.
Rishi Kapoor also innovated in direction, editing and sound departments. Rishi Kapoor earned the Filmfare Award for Best Actor in 1973 for Bobby and the National Award for Child artist in 1971.