Indian cinema is 100 years old and the Kapoors have ruled it for 84 of those years. In this Idea Exchange moderated by Editor, Chandigarh, Vipin Pubby, actor Rishi Kapoor talks about his second innings on screen and wonders why all national assets are named after politicians.
Rakesh Rocky: You entered the film industry as a child actor in Mera Naam Joker, debuted as a lead in Bobby, and returned as a villain in Agneepath. What changes have you noticed in Indian cinema in all these years?
I have completed 42 years in the industry. Change is a part of life, and it’s human to opt for change. It brings to mind Kavi Pradeep’s song from I S Johar’s 1954 film Nastik, ‘Dekh tere sansaar ki haalat kya ho gayi Bhagwan, kitna badal gaya insaan’. This was written 65 years ago, I wasn’t even born then!
Change is inevitable — sometimes, it can come through technology, through choice, growth, evolution. We can talk and talk about how things have deteriorated and say, look at the content, music, lyrics… Technology has come in, trial and error method is gone, there is cut-throat competition and the audience will not forgive you. In our time, heroes could never be deaf and dumb, now they are because the dynamics of cinema has changed. Sensibilities have changed. With plush seats, air-conditioning, tickets have become expensive. A multiplex will screen for masses and classes, but the autodriver out there still wants to watch Dabangg and Ready.
Jaskiran Kapoor: You’ve reinvented the role of the father in interesting ways. How have you managed that? Also, after being a leading hero for 25 years, you are now making waves with your second innings. Tell us about it.
I am ageing and, naturally, playing my age. I also look at each character in a new light. I can’t possibly play a typical filmi father standing at the edge of the stairs and shouting, ‘khabardaar agar tum andar aaye to (don’t you dare come inside)’ to my son. I like to do characters of today, like Agneepath’s Rauf Lala. People say he is a villain, I say he is an everyday guy who has both the good and bad in him.
I was a romantic hero for 25 years. Now, I want to play roles people can identify with, like the one in Bewakoofiyan. I am happy playing an everyday man. I immensely enjoyed playing Mr Duggal in Do Dooni Chaar; it was real.
Vipin Pubby: How do you rate Indian films vis-à-vis international cinema?
What is the need to compare? As Indians, continued…
The start by the government, with 44 days gone, has been measured, more practised and less frenetic.