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Rishi Kapoor: Raj Kapoor's Top 10 Movies

Last updated on: June 26, 2013 16:57 IST

Image: Raj Kapoor and Nargis in Shree 420
Photographs: Copyright of RK Studios Aseem Chhabra in New York

Rishi Kapoor started his career at the age of 18 in his father Raj Kapoor's riskiest projects Mera Naam Joker. That film failed at the box office.

A couple of years later, Rishi appeared in his father's biggest hit ever, Bobby.

Over the years, Rishi charted his own career, acting in projects outside his father's banner, often in multi-cast productions.

Today at 60, Rishi has reinvented himself, finding remarkable scripts and roles that, until a few years ago, were not being written in the Hindi film industry.

Here, Rishi Kapoor goes back in time, and discusses his 10 favourite Raj Kapoor movies with Aseem Chhabra, and tells us why they are so special to him.

Continuing our series celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema.

What are your memories of your father's films?

It is hard to remember scenes and moments from Raj Kapoor's films. What stays with you are the whole films.

Yes, you are right. But there are songs and some remarkable performances. Which is the first film of his that you remember?

I would perhaps think, in terms of my own participation in the song Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua (in Shree 420). That was the rain song between Raj Kapoor and Nargis in which my elder brother, my sister and I also participated. We walk in the rain holding hands.

That is my first memory of a studio, of a shooting. I have very faint memories about that participation, but it is my first memory of a song sequence.

Have you watched that song again?

Oh yes, time and again. It is one of the most romantic rain songs ever.

And it is so beautifully shot, in a studio at night...

Yes, it was in the studio, in black and white, no technology and gizmos. Hearing the song transports you back to that era.


'Awara was made in 1951 and it still seems so romantic'

Image: Nargis and Raj Kapoor in Awara

How about scenes and moments from Awara?

Oh yes. I think it is one of my father's finest films.

There are some lovely scenes with the young Shashi Kapoor. You can see the innocence and the smile on his face, which remained when he grew older.

What about the songs from that film, especially Dum Bhar Jo Udhar Moo Phere?

Raj Kapoor was a great romantic filmmaker. He understood romance and portrayed it in his own way.

Awara has so many remarkable scenes.

The beach scene that you are referring to between Nargisji and Raj Kapoor still stands on its own.

Awara was made in 1951 and it still seems so romantic.

It was also so modern looking, the clothes they wore. Your father was so handsome with his haircut and moustache.

There is some kind of violence in that scene as well. The way he grabs her in the middle of the song and twists her arm, which has been copied many times in India.

But it was romantic, it was violent, it meant a lot and the chemistry between the two actors spoke a lot.


'My father re-directed Boot Polish because he was unhappy with the way it was coming along'

Image: Rattan Kumar and Naaz in Boot Polish

I love Boot Polish. What are your thoughts about that film?

I know about my father's contribution in Boot Polish -- he made Boot Polish all by himself.

He briefly appears in Boot Polish as a homeless man...

That was one shot.

My father re-directed the film because he was not happy with the way it was coming along. In two months, he shot the film all by himself.

There were so many touching moments in that film.

There were lovely moments with the kids in Boot Polish.

For me, there are some very special moments in Boot Polish, Jagte Raho and Jis Desh Main Ganga Behti Hai.


'A scene can be like a flashing moment'

Image: Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia in Bobby

Rishi Kapoor's interview with Aseem Chhabra continues...

Then, there are the scenes between Simi Garewal and me in Mera Naam Joker -- the emotional connection he created between the teenager and the teacher.

It happens with all the kids, when they fancy their teachers.

That's a very beautiful part of Mera Naam Joker.

So a scene can be like a flashing moment.

Like in Bobby when Dimple accidentally puts besan on her hair. That happened to Raj Kapoor in his life.

Which scene is that in Bobby?

You know when my character is introduced to Dimple and she is at the door and says 'Mera tel jal raha hai'. Her hands have besan, as she is making pakodas. That moment speaks so much.

Bobby had such romantic songs. When you sing Main Shair To Nahin or Chabi Kho Jaye, they still sound so youthful.

Woh to ache hai hee hai, but for Raj Kapoor I like his scenes in Anari.


'In today's time, you cannot find an Anari'

Image: Raj Kapoor in Teesri Kasam

Yes, I loved Anari and Teesri Kasam also.

Tell me about Anari.

In Anari, there is the innocence of the man. In today's time, you cannot find an Anari. Aaj kal ke bacche baap ban ke paida hote hain.

No one is naive anymore.

Nutan was lovely in it.

Both of them made a lovely pair.

India had just found its Independence and we were a young nation. The youth were unemployed and they did not know what to do.

There was some innocence that doesn't exist anymore. Anari had that beauty of the honesty of the youth.

What do you remember of Teesri Kasam?

The music and the songs.

Teesri Kasam was a package for me. It was a film about village life and had great music.


'Sangam would never work in today's time'

Image: Raj Kapoor, Vyjayantimala and Rajendra Kumar in Sangam

Tell me about Sangam Did you like that film?

Sangam was a difficult film. It was four hours plus, and only between three characters. It had two intervals. Only Raj Kapoor could do it.

By today's yardstick, it was two hours 15 minutes too long. But the film held together.

It was path-breaking in those days to go and shoot abroad.

The basic point I liked about Sangam was the triangular drama, which is only towards the end.

The friendship angle, the sacrifice and the counter-sacrifice. Of course, these things would never work in today's time.

Sangam would never work. Aaj kal they would just stab their friend if they got suspicious.


Tags: Sangam

'What I loved about Prem Rog was the paradox of double standards'

Image: Rishi Kapoor and Padmini Kolhapure in Prem Rog

Prem Rog was your last film with your father. Do you have any special memories?

I thought Prem Rog was brilliant. It focused on widow remarriage, especially about young widows.

It had good arguments and brilliant moments. It was a good social film.

What do you remember of the film?

I was the silent lover in the film, who cannot profess his love because of his status. What I loved about the film was the paradox of double standards.

The most amazing scene is between Bade Raja Thakur, played by my uncle Shammi Kapoor, and my character Deodhar.

Bade Raja says to Deodhar, 'Go run away with the girl, otherwise we will condemn her and abuse her.'

Deodhar says no, he will not run away with her, but he will marry her with Bade Raja's aashirwad. Kyonki yeh Deodhar aur Rama ki kahani nahin hai. Yeh sadiyon se chali riwaz ke khilaf ladayee hai.

Unfortunately, Raj Kapoor wrote the script and directed the film, but he couldn't act in it. That's why he cast Shammi Kapoor in the role.

Shammi and Shashi Kapoor were his alter egos in some ways in his films, right?



'My brother was always caught between his father and grandfather'

Image: Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor and Randhir Kapoor in Kal Aaj Aur Kal

There were a couple of times when your father acted in films, directed by your brother Randhir. What do you remember about Kal Aaj Aur Kal?

I was an assistant on Kal Aaj Aur Kal and had the opportunity of working with my grandfather, my father and my brother.

It was interesting seeing them work. Each of them had their own idiosyncrasies and ways.

Being the director, my brother was always caught between his father and grandfather.

He would suggest something and they would say, 'Baap ko sikhayega acting?

Or Dada would say 'Dada ko kya sikhayega? Jaa Baap ko sikha.'Don't talk to me.

Overall, it was done in jest and fun. They always listened to the director and did what he wanted.

Randhir was very young then.

He was very young. That was his first film as actor and director. My maternal uncle Premnath was also in that film.

It spoke about something, the connection between generations. It had a story value.

When was the last time you saw a Raj Kapoor film?

It's been a while now. They often show them on television.

There was a retrospective in Toronto a few years ago, which you attended.

Yes, but I didn't see a complete film of my father's.