Rishi Kapoor was the quintessential romantic hero who wore his heart on his sweater. But after three decades in the industry, the actor took a step back from his much-loved image and embraced the changing times in cinema.
Kapoor pushed boundaries with several films in the last two decades, with one stand-out character after another. We look back at some of his exemplary work (in no particular order) that kept him relevant to even the generation, which is a fan of his son Ranbir Kapoor.
In this 2018 drama, directed by Anubhav Sinha, Rishi Kapoor played Murad Ali Mohammed, the patriarch of a family which is at the receiving end of hate and bigotry. Apart from the fact that Kapoor chose to put his weight behind a “important” and “urgent” film, the actor’s portrayal of a man fighting a lonely battle was sensitive, nuanced and remained far from being melodramatic even as the story provided ample scope for it.
2. Kapoor and Sons
As the coolest grandparent a family could imagine, Kapoor was charming in Shakun Batra’s poignant drama. The veteran was a natural playing an old man with a young heart. So much of his inherent flamboyance and playfulness is reflected in the act, making it both endearing and emotional.
3. Do Dooni Chaar
Rishi Kapoor’s skill of holding your attention in the most mundane scenes is put to great use in his turn as school teacher Santosh Duggal, living a hand-to-mouth existence, in Do Dooni Chaar. The 2010 Habib Faisal directorial catches every beat of a middle-class household in Delhi, thanks to Kapoor, who puts life into a common man with a conscience. Rishi makes you smile and tear up in equal measure.
4. 102 Not Out
It’s not every day that one sees two of the finest Indian actors sharing screen space. In Umesh Shukla’s 2018 dramedy, the audience witnessed the delightful chemistry between Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan. As 76-year-old Babulal Vakhariya, who resents his age, Kapoor was both funny and vulnerable. The actor not only aced the emotions of an unhappy man, who graduates to happiness eventually, but also made sure the character stayed away from the trappings of a ‘Gujarati-in-Bollywood-films’ stereotype.
5. Luck By Chance
Zoya Akhtar’s directorial debut (2009) was a sneak peek into the reality of the Hindi film industry. Playing Bollywood’s top producer Rommy Rolly, who decides the fate of upcoming actors while waiting to unlock his fortune by using big stars, Rishi Kapoor is hilarious and humane. The one scene where he breaks down in front of his wife (Juhi Chawla), exhausted from constant rejection by A-listers and saying that he doesn’t enjoy making films anymore, lays bare the dynamics of this industry, where self-interest often overpowers relationships.
Rishi Kapoor had mostly stayed away from playing antagonists so there was much speculation whether the on-screen charmer could pull off an out-and-out negative character. But as the unforgiving Rauf Lala in the 2012 remake of the cult Agneepath, Kapoor evoked anger and hate. Despite not playing the primary antagonist, the actor left a mark in a glorious ensemble thanks to his menacing act.
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7. D Day
A year after Agneepath, Rishi Kapoor took to another negative character, though the similarity stops there. As Goldman, based on gangster Dawood Ibrahim, the actor wore a quiet precariousness, making it difficult for the audience to gauge his next move. If anything was certain, it was how much the actor seemed to enjoy chewing into the role. Even as the film wasn’t received well, Kapoor walked away with praise for his brilliant act.
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