Rishi Kapoor, Bollywood’s evergreen heartthrob, passed away about a year ago after a two-year battle with cancer. The star died on April 30, 2020, leaving his followers, relatives, and colleagues devastated by his demise. He is still known as Hindi cinema’s golden child, who won hearts with his music, dancing, and acting on the big screen. People often recall him for his no-holds-barred attitude, which he exemplified in his biography, ‘Rishi Kapoor Uncensored.’ He was one of the few people in the business who was not afraid of exercising his freedom of expression publicly.
Kapoor was brutally frank about his personal and working life in his memoir. While many actors today tend to keep their personal lives private, Rishi opened up about his marriage to Neetu Kapoor. He described how, despite his being a troublesome husband, she was someone who would ‘put up with him. When he wasn’t doing well at the cinema, he blamed his partner.
He even declined to work on Yash Chopra’s ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ in 1976 because Neetu had a bigger role than he did. He mentioned in his book, “I felt Neetu had a more prominent role than I did. That’s why I had said to Yash Chopra, if you want me to do the film, give me Neetu’s role. Naturally, Yash-Ji was confused.” Shashi Kapoor eventually intervened, and Rishi was cast in the film. Another reason for Rishi Kapoor’s rejection of Kabhie Kabhie was that he and Amitabh Bachchan had a “lingering problem.”
“To go back to Amitabh, I must confess here is still a lingering issue I have with Amitabh Bachchan. A big disadvantage of working in an all-star movie in those days was that everybody only wanted to make action films, which automatically meant that the star who could carry off the action with the most flair would get the meatiest part. That’s how, with the exception of Kabhi Kabhie, which was a romantic film, none of the multi-starters I featured in had an author-backed role for me. And it wasn’t just me. Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna faced it too,” he wrote in Khullam Khulla.
“Amitabh is undeniably a superb actor, immensely talented and, at the time, the number one star who ruled the box office. He was an action hero, the angry young man. So roles were written for him. Although we may have been smaller stars, we were not lesser actors. Yet, the rest of us had to constantly measure up to him. We had to work hard, really exert ourselves to match up. In my time, the musical/romantic hero had no place. Amitabh was an action hero in an era of action films. As such, writers gave him the lion’s share and he had author-backed roles in almost all his films. This gave him an advantage over the rest of us who had to make our presence felt with whatever we got. But this is something that Amitabh has never ever admitted to, in any interview or book. He has never given due credit to the actors who have worked with him. He has always credited his writers and directors, Salim-Javed, Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra, Yash Chopra and Ramesh Sippy.”
Some common movies of Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor were Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Naseeb (1981), Coolie (1983) and Ajooba (1991). They got together got the 2018 film 102 Not Out after 27 years.