Happy Birthday Rishi Kapoor: From ‘Bobby’ To Owning Twitterdom
Did you know Rishi Kapoor paid to get his first Filmfare for ‘Bobby’? Hear it from the horse’s mouth!
(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 7 February 2016.)
An interviewer’s dream-come-true, he never insists, “That’s off-the-record.” As he turns 64 today, here’s looking at one of Bollywood’s most versatile and outspoken actors.
Rishi Kapoor speaks at jaguar-speed, breaking off occasionally to serve himself another magnum peg of scotch, thundering that his interlocutor must finish a bottle of Californian wine. “Never understood which wine is dry, fruity or medium-whatever,” he scowls at the bottle. “If you don’t like it, we can open another.”
That’s Rishi Kapoor aka Chintu as on the go as a marathon runner in his rare artefacts-strewn den in a Pali Hill bungalow. All through 2015, I’ve noticed that he’s been re-inventing himself, albeit subconsciously.
His tweets make news. At the age of 63, he’s hot property as an actor be it in lead or supporting parts. And of course, there’s incesssant curiosity about what he thinks (or doesn’t) about his son, Ranbir Kapoor, justly rated as the most accomplished actor of his generation.
Over then to a shoal of topics, the responses excerpted here in Rishi Kapoor’s own words:
On the Twitterdom Attraction
I’m told that I have a wicked sense of humour. My twitter account was dormant for almost 10 months till at various film shoots, I saw Anushka Sharma, Riteish Deshmukh and Abhishek Bachchan going bananas, tweeting. So I got infected. Right now I have some 6,40,000 followers which is nowhere close to the millions aggregated by Amitabh Bachchan and the Khans.
It’s said that you can inflate your accounts by buying Tweeples. No thanks, I don’t need to falsify things. I do get feelers for endorsements. If there’s a respectable amount of money and it’s all clean and the products are right, why not? Still, I’m a bit wary about getting into such commercialisation. Tweeting is a fun thing for me. At times I don’t tweet at all in a day, at times I tweet three or four times a day, depending on my mood and the pertinence of the issue I’m commenting on.
To be honest, following threats and terrible trolls on my take on the beef ban, I’ve watered down my tweets to a degree. Why can’t it be understood that we don’t rear cattle for food in India? And what do you think scores of Indians do when they go abroad and eat burgers from fast food joints?
Anyway, jaane do that controversy subsided soon enough. I was just expressing my thoughts, it wasn’t meant to be political at all. At first my wife (Neetu Singh) would tell me to go easy, avoid ruffling feathers, but when her friends said they enjoy my tweets, she’s stopped ticking me off.
How to Deal With Trolls
I just block those who get abusive and convey anti-national thoughts. One guy tweeted that the gurde kapure in his kitchen were better than mine. What on earth was that?
Another said that I’m a lousy actor and Ranbir is far superior. Thank you sir, I agree with you completely. Then there have been tweets suggesting that Ranbir should disassociate himself from his girlfriend. Excuse me! Ranbir’s private life is his, just like my father never butted into my private life.
Fans of Salman Khan -- I love Salman, mind you -- also snipe at Ranbir in favour of Salman. And if as a senior, I gave a little bit of advice to Aamir Khan about feeling insecure in India, his fans fell like a ton of bricks on me. I’ve known Aamir ever since he’s a kid, as an elder and well-wisher it’s my right to offer him some words.
I’d tweeted very fondly on different occasions on Sonakshi Sinha, Huma Qureshi and Alia Bhatt. But lo, I was whiplashed. Get a life guys, the girls were very sweet about those tweets. So what’s your problem?
On Ranbir Kapoor’s Career
Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t scan the scripts offered to him. I’m his baap, not his secretary. If at all I’m his finance minister, Ranbir doesn’t have a head for money matters. So I do check out the financial aspects of his contracts. Full stop. Ranbir’s proved himself as an actor on his own steam. He doesn’t need a merit certificate from me.
With Tamasha, I wouldn’t say that he has fully regained his market equity but for sure, the downslide caused by Bombay Velvet has stopped. Bombay Velvet was a suicidal mission. Tamasha has evoked bipolar reactions, some have loved it and some have hated it, but his performance has been appreciated.
He’s always taken chances. Barfii! and Rockstar worked. Then something conventional like Besharam fell flat. In Roy, he did an extended guest appearance since it was being directed by one of his friends. If you ask me, people want to see him in romantic films like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
Even my mother has told him, “Beta, why are you experimenting? You are so wonderful in love stories.” Personally, I enjoyed his Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani and Rocket Singh. In fact, I’d like to see Ranbir in the kind of movies I once did like Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Doosra Aadmi, and when he’s maturer, Chandni. Still, that’s his call entirely.
On the Ranbir Kapoor-Katrina Kaif Liaison
Et tu? Why am I always being dragged into his private life? Okay but I’m not the sort to duck questions. As far as I’m concerned, Katrina has been very well behaved. I worked with her in Namaste London. She’s pretty and hardworking. A newspaper reported that she’s started calling me, ‘Papa.’ Rubbish, she wouldn’t dare to take such liberties with me.
On Missing out on Awards and Honorifics
Last month, I was honoured in Tashkent. It felt great to know that Raj Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty and I are so warmly regarded throughout Uzbekistan. I even sang Main shaayar to nahin there, impromptu. Their love was overwhelming. On returning home, I didn’t publicise the event. The Kapoors don’t like blowing their own trumpets. Judge us by our work and not by publicity.
Today, I would most certainly not consider accepting the Padmashri title from the government. Actors and actresses, 25 years my junior, have already got Padmashris. The government, whosoever the ruling party may be, just doesn’t fancy the Kapoors. Do I have to become a fossil to be considered worthy of an award? Or do I have to wait to get it posthumously?
Last year, uncle Shashi Kapoor received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award at the age of 76. Dilip Kumar has been given the Padma Vibhushan at the age of 93. Does it make any difference to them when they are ailing?
My grandpa Prithviraj Kapoor and my father Raj Kapoor were given Padmabhushans and Dadasaheb Phalke awards. We have three Dadasaheb Phalke Award winners in the family.
I’m working towards that goal myself. I’d like to be awarded purely for my work and I will be. I won’t lobby for awards. Incidentally, I have no hesitation in admitting that I was impetuous once. I had to buy the Filmfare Award for my performance in Bobby… why’re you looking at me like that? That’s not off-the-record.
(The writer is a film critic, filmmaker, theatre director and a weekend painter.)
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