Veteran Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor recently launched his autobiography, titled Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored, here at the Taj Mahal hotel in Delhi. His wife Neetu Singh and daughter Riddhima Kapoor Sahni were present at the occasion. The event was also attended by veteran actress Nafisa Ali, Rishi’s son-in-law Bharat Sahni, comedian Papa C.J. and Union Minister Babul Supriyo, who paid a tribute to the Bobby actor by singing his famous song Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karenge.
To share a little about the star himself, one must start with the fact that few actors in Hindi cinema have had this sort of a career arc: from the gawky adolescent pining for his schoolteacher in Mera Naam Joker to the naughty 90-year-old in Kapoor and Sons, Rishi Kapoor has regaled audiences for close to 50 years. He won a National Award for his debut, became an overnight sensation with his first film as a leading man (Bobby, 1973), and carved a niche for himself with a string of romantic musical blockbusters in an era known for its angst-ridden films. He was the youth icon that is still the toast of the satellite TV circuit. The songs he lip-synced to are the bread and butter of all radio stations even today. Then there was the second coming after a brief hiatus in the 1990s — and today, he has reinvented himself as one of the finest actors in mainstream Hindi cinema with powerhouse performances in films like Do Dooni Chaar, D-Day and Agneepath among others, which continue to win him accolades and awards.
This time, it is a new role that Rishi has donned. That of a writer (or co-writer, to be precise). What makes his autobiography special is that it is a characteristically candid book, where Rishi brings Punjabi brio to the writing of Khullam Khulla. This is as up, close and personal a biography as any fan could have hoped for. He writes about growing up in the shadow of a legendary father, skipping school to act in Mera Naam Joker, the workings of the musical hits of the era, his streak of rotten luck with awards, an encounter with Dawood Ibrahim, his heroines (their working relationship, the gossip and the frisson that was sometimes real), his approach to his craft, his tryst with clinical depression, and more. A heart-warming afterword by Neetu Singh rounds off the warmest, most dil se biography an Indian star has ever penned.
“Neetu has been with me since last 37 years. Meena has been there since last three and a half years. I really marvel the way they have coped with me”
“The most difficult part while writing this autobiography was to remain honest, and Meena (Iyer, the co-writer) and I had verticals we had to choose as we had to reflect on cinema, family, career, so forth. She assembled it all part by part and we took it forward. We took three and a half years to write this book,” said Rishi, who was in a conversation with columnist and actor Suhel Seth at the launch event.
Talking about his wife, Rishi said: “I guess she [Neetu] has lost weight. People normally tell me that you don’t feed your wife. No, but I must tell you that Neetu and writer Meena have tried to cope with a very impatient man.
“Neetu has been with me since the last 37 years. Meena has been there since last three and a half years. I really marvel the way they have coped with me,” he added.
During the launch, while sharing some insights about the book, Rishi revealed some of his past incidents right from when he had an awkward encounter with one of his past girlfriends, to sleeping drunk next to his father, and his conversation with late filmmaker Manmohan Desai regarding the 1977 film Amar Akhbar and Anthony.
With inputs from agencies