Rishi Kapoor’s Twitter bio reads: Son of a famous father. Father of a famous son. I’m the hyphen in between them.
Connecting two generations, the Bollywood actor, who died in Mumbai on April 30 after a long battle with leukaemia, began his film journey with his father Raj Kapoor’s film, ‘Mera Naam Joker’, playing the cherubic schoolboy Raju.
Later on in his career, Kapoor would go on to work with son Ranbir Kapoor in ‘Besharam’, while giving his career a new lease on life over the last decade by exploring interesting roles in the second innings of an illustrious career.
Kapoor’s last film was ‘The Body’ (2019), a remake of a Spanish film by the same name, which was directed by Malayalam director Jeethu Joseph and is currently streaming on Netflix.
For Joseph, the experience of working with the veteran actor comes with bittersweet memories, especially considering his college days were spent listening to some of Kapoor’s most popular songs. Speaking to Gulf News, the director recalled being nervous when he met Kapoor for the first time in Mumbai to discuss ‘The Body’.
“Being a legendary actor and belonging to Indian cinema’s royal Kapoor family, I was a little prejudiced,” reminisced the ‘Drishyam’ director. “I was surprised to find him simple and down to earth. When the producer introduced me, he said, ‘Oh you are the ‘Drishyam’ director. I was expecting a 50 plus year old’ [Joseph is 47].”
The Hindi-language suspense thriller film, which Joseph also penned, involved filming scenes at night and Rishi was known not work late hours.
“People around were hesitant to ask him that and they insisted that I approach him with the request,” recalled Joseph. “I did and he said, ‘I am doing it for you’.”
Joseph continued: “After filming, when I was returning to Kerala, he told me that he will be visiting Kochi and would love to eat karimeen pollichathu (a Kerala delicacy). I thought he was joking but a week later he had booked his flight to Kerala. I was eager on arranging karimeen pollichathu for him, but it did not happen. He had to leave abroad for treatment. On his return he often reminded me of eating the dish.”
Joseph also spoke fondly about shooting with Kapoor on his last film. “Rishi Kapoor was full of life and warmth. In between shots I liked sitting beside him. He carried a positive energy around him.”
The director also narrated an anecdote relayed to him by Rishi about shooting for his very first film in 1969.
“Rishi Kapoor shared the memory of his father seeking his mother’s permission to allow him make his debut in ‘Mera Naam Joker.’ And, after signing on the dotted line, Rishi decided that he was going to be an actor,” Joseph recalled.
The director last met Kapoor during the release of ‘The Body’ in 2019, not knowing they would never cross paths again.
Don’t miss it!
‘The Body’ is streaming on Netflix