In the ‘Once Upon a Time’ series, we present anecdotes shared by famous film personalities.
Rishi Kapoor has been a part of movies for almost five decades now and in this long and illustrious career, he has seen many ups and downs. In his 2017 biography, Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored, the actor revealed many secrets about his films, co-stars, directors and even went on to share the projects that he rejected due to various reasons.
The autobiography, much like Rishi Kapoor’s tweets, doesn’t shy away from stating facts as it is and it is here that the Karz actor talks about his feud with writing icons of that era, Salim-Javed.
Rishi Kapoor narrates that back when Bobby had released, he was in Bangalore and had gotten to know that Sholay was being shot nearby and the crew of the film was staying in Bangalore International Hotel. There, he bumped into Javed Akhtar who came and introduced himself and congratulated him for Bobby’s success. But soon after congratulating him, Akhtar started rubbing his success in Kapoor’s face. He told him that Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1972) and Zanjeer (1973) had been huge hits and his next Haath Ki Safaai (1974) was going to be hit as well. Rishi writes that the 1974 film was, in fact, a big success.
Javed then proceeded to say that in 1975, they will have a film called Sholay and if it makes even a rupee less than Bobby, he will ‘break the nib’ of his pen and will never write again in his life. Rishi found it ‘brave, if not foolhardy’. The actor proceeds to write that Javed was ‘drunk to the gills’ but had immense confidence.
Rishi Kapoor admits that Salim-Javed offered him a part in Yash Chopra’s Trishul (1978) but he refused. This part was eventually played by Sachin. While he was on good terms with Yash Chopra, Salim-Javed did not appreciate the fact that someone had rejected them.
Soon after the rejection, he was confronted by Salim Khan who blatantly asked him the reason for refusing. When Rishi said that he did not like the role, Salim told him that they can ‘destroy his career’. He proceeded to say that Rajesh Khanna turned down Zanjeer, so they created a new superstar in Amitabh Bachchan and they could do the same to him.
The fight was later resolved as Rishi Kapoor admits that Salim Khan became a ‘morale booster’ for him. Salim believed that Rishi could take Raj Kapoor’s legacy ahead. The differences between him and Javed Akhtar were also largely resolved. But Rishi continued to have a bone with Javed as the lyricist once blamed Raj Kapoor for the untimely death of lyric writer Shailendra. In the book, Rishi says that he wants a public apology for such a ‘defamatory statement’. The actor admits that he never allowed the situation to ‘get out of hand’ as he shares a cordial relationship with Shabana Azmi (Javed Akhtar’s wife).
Though Javed’s apology is not in the public record, it is probably safe to imagine that they have made amends. During Rishi’s cancer treatment in New York last year, the poet paid him a visit and looks like they have let bygones be bygones.