Hardest goodbyes in the cruel month of April

They came, they entertained, and they conquered million of hearts sold on the magic of Bollywood. While the people are locked down at homes with a virus on the prowl, two different actors of different genres say goodbyes, one of them a little too early. Tributes to Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan.
Rishi Kapoor (1952-2020): A kickass lover boy to Agneepath’s karakul-cap Rauf Lala
This was long before mature adult content became part of the Indian cinema or nudity was even celebrated in Bollywood tinkering with suggestive shots and heroines in body hugging clothes of 60s.
Back in 1970, in Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker, in one of the bold scenes which perhaps only Kapoor could embed in those days, actress Simi Garewal (playing Mary, a teacher) was shown undressing in a bush after a swim.
A blue-eyed teenager coming to grip with his raging hormones would ogle from the cover of a tree at her teacher’s bare body with some amount of guilt and excitement as she undresses.
This boy (playing Raju in the iconic film) trying to come to terms with his first love, his teacher, and adolescence sexuality was Rishi Kapoor.
Only three years later in 1973 he exploded in the silver screen as the lover boy of the 70s with Bobby, opposite Dimple Kapadia.
Well, even in Bobby, he in one scene had almost exposed his butt to the more experienced Aruna Irani who rushes out of his room in splits. He was game to his father, showman Raj Kapoor’s dare- of pushing the envelope of commercial Hindi cinema permissibility.
Millions of cine-goers loved Bobby. And Rishi Kapoor, the lover boy of 70s and 80s through 90s who would not just romance his leading ladies, including his actress wife Neetu Singh Kapoor, but also shake a leg to disco beats in gorgeous outfits!!!
The journey never hit a pause button since then, till his illness (cancer) took him to USA a few years ago. He returned to India last year after it was assumed that he was cancer-free. However, Rishi Kapoor breathed his last at a Mumbai hospital on Thursday (April 30) leaving the entire Indian film industry in grief. He was 67.
Kapoor, who had stolen millions of hearts with his spirited screen presence and lover boy roles in the 1970s through the 80s, died at 8:45 am. He was admitted in Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital on Wednesday. Rishi Kapoor was under treatment for cancer in USA earlier though it was assumed that he had recovered.
One of the most well known Kapoors of the Kapoor clan of Bollywood, he is survived by his wife Neetu Singh Kapoor, actor son Ranbir Kapoor and daughter Riddhima Kapoor.
Rishi Kapoor was born on Sept 4, 1952 in Mumbai as the second son of Bollywood legend Raj Kapoor and his wife Krishna Raj Kapoor . He was the grandson of illustrious actor Prithviraj Kapoor. His brothers, Randhir Kapoor and Rajiv Kapoor; maternal uncles, Prem Nath, Rajendra Nath, Narendra Nath and Prem Chopra; and paternal uncles, Shashi Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor are all actors. His two sisters are late Ritu Nanda and Rima Jain. He did his schooling with his brothers at Campion School, Mumbai and Mayo College, Ajmer. While Bobby would always remain etched in memory of Bollywood fans, among his other successful films were Amar Akbar Anthony, Sargam, Karz, Prem Rog, Chandni, Saagar, Ajooba, Damini – Lightning.
While Big B regaled audience in his Anthony Gonsalves avatar in Amar Akbar Anthony and Vinod Khanna played a police inspector, Rishi Kapoor would steal hearts romancing his wife Neetu Singh in the film playing Akbar Illhabadi/Raju and singing kawalis.
His lover boy image started changing from 80s itself with more intense portrayals in films like Prem Rog against Padmini Kolhapuri or even in Yash Chopra’s Chandni opposite Sreedevi. And his experiments with roles and transition from the lover boy image of the 70s continued. Though initially reluctant to play the character of Rauf Lala in Agneepath, a remake in 2012 of the 90s Agneepath starring Amitabh Bachchan, he would be remembered for his performance in a negative character in this film, wearing kurta-pajama, a karakul cap and eyes rimmed with kajal.
Post 2000, Kapoor with growing age had started doing supporting roles and he caught limelight once again with his acting in films like Fanaa, Namastey London, Love Aaj Kal, Patiala House.
In 2018, Kapoor reunited with his long-time friend and co-star Amitabh Bachchan in a Hindi film titled as 102 Not Out. Some of his last films include Taapsee Pannu starrer Mulk and The Body which featured Emraan Hashmi in the lead role.
He had returned to India last September after almost a year under treatment abroad.
Irrfan Khan (1967-2020): An actor and a gentleman
During the shooting of Mira Nair’s The Namesake, Irrfan Khan was clueless on how he can get into the skin of a first generation reticent Bengali professor (Ashoke Ganguli) settled in USA. Then he met writer Jhumpa Lahiri’s father, Amar Lahiri, who was a librarian at the University of Rhode Island.
“I taped him, without his permission, and listening to his voice, I slowly began to form a picture of Ashoke in my mind,” the actor recalled in an interview given to The Times of India years later on how he prepared himself to play Ashoke Ganguli in the film of Mira Nair based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s book .
A man loved in his every screen presence, Irrfan Khan was a method actor from the National School of Drama, and have been compared as one who is somewhere in between the methods of Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. So from Ashoke Ganguli to the lonely accountant of The Lunchbox, he appeared effortless before camera.
The Piku actor who created some endearing moments for audience with Deepika Padukone in the film where he plays a cab service owner, was often critical of Bollywood mainstream too. He would regret its unimaginative use of songs unlike in the 1950s and 60s. But he was also a very integral part of Bollywood films too.
“Acting is a very sensitive process of searching your own method. You have to very minutely figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. It is a trial-and-error method. Nobody can teach you in training school how to generate emotion,” he once said in an interview with The Hindu. So when the news of his death came on April 29 in a world already reeling under the seamless flow of Covid-19 deaths, it only added up to the pain and helpless of millions of his admirers who gave a thumps up to his screen presence over the decades.
India was truly shocked to hear the death of one of its most versatile actors. Khan, who was suffering from cancer, was reportedly surrounded by his family members when he breathed his last at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. He is survived by his wife Sutapa Devendra Sikdar and two children. Khan, who will be remembered for his smooth acting, gestures and silent expressions onscreen, was a part of more than 50 Indian films besides several Hollywood projects. The Academy Award-nominated Salaam Bombay! was the first film of Khan who made his acting debut in 1988.
In a career spanning more than 30 years, Khan mesmerised audience with his roles in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool, Life in a… Metro, Life of Pi, Paan Singh Tomar, The Lunchbox, Haider, Piku.
His last film Angrezi Medium was released just before the pandemic Coronavirus swept the country in 2020.
The international projects where Khan stole the limelight include The Warrior, The Namesake, the Academy Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi, Jurassic World.
At the peak of his career in 2018, Khan was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumor.
Khan, the recipient of numerous awards, had received the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour, in 2011.
In a heart-out conversation with journalist Rajeev Masand last year, Khan had revealed why he had chosen film career initially.
“… I am fortunate that I chose this job. Initially I chose it for fame and money… The most important thing to become an actor was to explore and observe yourself and to reflect on yourself and your surrounding and society. That is something I am really fortunate to do that through my job,” the Piku actor had said. (TWF)