Rishi Kapoor made a hesitant debut in Bollywood when at the age of 3 years; he did a small cameo in his papa Raj Kapoor’s film Shree 420 (1955). He is seen in the musical sequence of Pyar Hua, Iqrar Hua Hai…….Later, when papa Raj Kapoor offered him the younger version of Raj Kapoor in his most ambitious film Mera Naam Joker (1970), Rishi Kapoor poured his heart out in the performance. The film fetched him the Best Child Actor National Award. When Prithviraj Kapoor’s Rishi Kapoor’s grandfather heard the news he had tears of joy in his eyes because Rishi Kapoor was the ‘First’ actor in the ‘Kapoor Khandaan’ to win a National Award in acting category!!
Further, with Best Actor Filmfare Award in Bobby (1973), Rishi Kapoor proved his genius as an exceptional actor. The film was a runaway hit and brought so much money that Raj Kapoor was able to recover his RK Studio and his bungalow that he had mortgaged after the disastrous debacle of his home production and his most beloved film Mera Naam Joker.
Interestingly, in 1973, another actor, Amitabh Bachchan, who was ready to pack off from Bollywood after 17 flop movies suddenly found himself in stardom with the huge success of his film Zanjeer (1973). Soon Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor shared the screen with Yash Chopra’s Kabhi Kabhie (1976). It was during the making of Kabhi Kabhie the two came closer and became friends. Later the two did many films together like Amar Akbar Anthony, Naseeb, Coolie, and their last appearance together in 102 Not Out.
Praising Rishi Kapoor’s incredible talent Amitabh Bachchan in his special condolence blog wrote, “Rishi Kapoor was a genius. He had a stride and style that was similar to that of his grandfather, the legendary Prithvi Raj Ji. He was a wonderful actor and he spoke his lines, you believed every word of it. He was highly talented.”
True Rishi Kapoor was a rare talent but it is said in his heydays his talent was never tapped. He was trapped as a lover boy in films like Khel Khel Mein, Rafoo Chakkar, and Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, Doosra Aadmi, Saagar, Chandni, etc but whenever competent film directors gave him an authored back role Rishi Kapoor emerged as an actor par excellence. However, only a handful of directors exploded Rishi Kapoor’s talent like H.S. Rawail in Laila Majnu (1976), K. Vishwanath in Sargam (1979), Subhash Ghai in Karz (1980) and Raj Kapoor in Prem Rog (1982), etc. Tragically, Rishi Kapoor kept singing songs around the trees with heroine half his age in films like Bol Radha Bol, Yarana, Damini, and Deewana.
Readers would be stunned to know that Rishi Kapoor began his career with a National Award for Best Child star in Mera Naam Joker and won Best Actor Filmfare Award in Bobby. After this, he never won an award as he was stereotyped in lover boy. Thankfully in his last inning, Rishi Kapoor switched to character roles and it was in his last inning as a character actor Rishi Kapoor stunned the world with his amazing talent. Some of his most memorable performance included the lewd and heinous Rauf Lala in Agneepath (2013), a retired teacher in Do Dooni Chaar (2011), the remarkable grandfather in Kapoor & Sons (2017), the patriotic Old Muslim in Mulk (2018) and the loveable old man in 102 Not Out (2018).