Neetu Kapoor was among the top actresses of her time — delivering hits and being nominated for awards — when she gave it all up at 21. Bollywood was shocked when Neetu announced plans to marry Rishi Kapoor. But the actress, now mother to Riddhima and Ranbir Kapoor, chose family.
Many alleged that it was due to the Kapoor family’s tradition of not allowing the women in the family to work. Neetu went ahead and dismissed the allegations. She said it then and she repeated it over the years, her decision to quit films was a “personal choice.”
If you look at her career graph, it is not hard to fathom why this successful actress chose family and motherhood instead of reaching new heights in Bollywood. Neetu started her career as a child artist and did 70 films in a span of seven years. When she was 21, she had already done over 20 films with the leading actors of her time.
Neetu told Times of India in an interview, “To give up my career was my decision. I wanted a family. I was really tired of working, I had done almost 70 films in seven years of my career with three shifts everyday. I wasn’t nervous as I had already got familiar with Rishi’s family and knew them well.”
Neetu started acting after her father’s death. She was in Mumbai (then Bombay) and people found her bubbly and she loved dancing. With the name Baby Sonia, she started her career in the 1960s. With her mother Rajee lovingly, yet strictly, managing her career, she went from strength to strength.
Her career as a leading star began with Rickshawala (1972). A dance number in Yaadon ki Baraat brought her immediate success.
She went on to be paired opposite future uncle-in-law Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra and Shatrughan Sinha. She did 11 films with Rishi Kapoor and they continue to be one of the most adorable Bollywood jodis of all times.
Her hits include Deewaar (1975), Adalat (1976), Dharam Veer (1977), Parvarish (1977), Jaani Dushman (1979), Rafoo Chakkar (1974), Khel Khel Mein (1975), Kabhie Kabhie (1976), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) and Kaala Patthar (1979).
Talking about marriage and motherhood, Neetu said in the ToI interview, “I was 14 when I met Rishi. My mom did not like it when she heard about our affair. She would get very upset when he would flirt with me… When Rishi proposed to me and I broke the news of my wedding, mom was very happy for me. Soon after, I announced my marriage, returned all my signing amounts and gave notices to all my producers that I would be getting married in a year’s time. I had shot one scene of Manmohan Desai’s Naseeb and it had to be re-shot.”
Daughter Riddhima was born in the first year after the marriage and Ranbir the following year. Neetu is the perfect daughter-in-law, the perfect wife and the perfect mother. We hope to see more of her onscreen, like in Love Aaj Kal and Jab Tak Hai Jaan.
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