Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor dies of cancer at age 67

Photo: YouTube

Top Indian actor Rishi Kapoor, a scion of Bollywood’s most famous Kapoor family, has died. He was 67 and had leukemia.

India’s Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan tweeted on Thursday “Rishi Kapoor gone….Just passed away… I am destroyed.”

Kapoor was hospitalized in Mumbai on Wednesday and died on Thursday, according to a family statement.

He returned to India last September after undergoing treatment in the United States for almost a year. He was hospitalized twice in February.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Kapoor was a powerhouse of talent. “I will always recall our interactions, even on social media. He was passionate about films and India’s progress.”

His father Raj Kapoor and grandfather Prithviraj Kapoor were doyens of Bollywood, the vast Hindi-language film industry based in the western coastal city of Mumbai.

He received the National Film Award for his debut role as a child artist in his father’s 1970 film “Mera Naam Joker.” He acted in more than 90 films.

His wife, Neetu Singh, co-starred in several of his films. His son Ranbir Kapoor is a current top Bollywood actor.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by a daughter.

Rahul Gandhi, a Congress party leader, said this was a terrible week for Indian cinema as another top actor Irrfan Khan died on Wednesday, also of cancer. He said Kapoor had a huge fan following across generations.

Film star Priyanka Chopra said Kapoor’s death was the end of an era. “#Rishisir your candid heart and immeasurable talent will never be encountered again.”

Born September 4, 1952 into the prolific Kapoor dynasty — which has produced four generations of actors including his son, Ranbir — he made his debut in the 1970s epic “Mera Naam Joker” (“My Name is Joker”).

He received India’s National Award for best child actor for his performance in the film, which his father Raj produced, directed and starred in.

But it was his later persona as a romantic lead that won him legions of fans.

They flocked to cinemas to see him sing, dance and charm his way into their hearts in films such as the 1973 superhit “Bobby” and the 1975 thriller “Khel Khel Mein” (“While Playing”).

– Bollywood royalty –

His trademark look — a sweater tied around his shoulders as he courted chiffon sari-clad leading ladies in the Swiss Alps — became shorthand for stylish Bollywood romance.

He was frequently cast opposite Neetu Singh — who he later married and raised two children with — jewellery designer Riddhima and Bollywood heart-throb Ranbir.

Bona fide Bollywood royalty, Kapoor churned out hits as a solo hero, playing a lovelorn youth in the 1976 romance “Laila Majnu” and a rockstar in the 1980 musical thriller “Karz” (“Debt”).

But he also felt secure enough to take second billing in blockbusters such as the 1977 comedy “Amar Akbar Anthony” — starring Bachchan and Vinod Khanna — although he’d frequently steal the show.

He enjoyed an easy chemistry with male and female co-stars, playing Bachchan’s younger brother in the 1981 melodrama “Naseeb” (“Destiny”) and his son in the 2018 film “102 Not Out”.

– Versatile star –

As Kapoor grew older the romantic roles dried up, allowing him the opportunity to display greater versatility.

He terrified audiences as a human trafficker in 2012’s “Agneepath” (“Path of Fire”) and won applause for his portrayal of a cantankerous porn-watching grandfather in 2016’s “Kapoor & Sons”.

His forays behind the camera were less successful.

A 1999 directorial debut “Aa Ab Laut Chalen” (“Come, Let’s Go Back Now”) was panned by critics, becoming the last movie produced under the R.K. Films banner established by his father.

In a 2016 interview with talk show host Simi Garewal, he praised members of Bollywood’s younger generation for taking more chances with their work.

“We in our times never got a chance to (do) one film at one time… we survived,” he said.

He was never afraid to speak candidly, whether about his movies — most of which deserved to be forgotten, he joked to Garewal — or about his struggles with alcoholism.

In recent years he won a legion of new and younger fans with his frank, and often funny, tweets.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2018 he sought treatment in New York, but was looking to resume work shortly with plans to film a remake of the 2015 Hollywood production “The Intern”.

He was forced to return to hospital this month, where, his family said, “the doctors and medical staff… said he kept them entertained to the last.

“He was grateful for the love of his fans… they would all understand that he would like to be remembered with a smile and not with tears.”View reactions (2)


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