Rishi Kapoor talks about his Twitter tirades, son Ranbir's film choices, and why cinema equals entertainment
Trust Rishi Kapoor to behave like a class teacher when the press is around. Before his interview, he lays down the rules of engagement, which are to be strictly adhered to. “I don’t want to sound like a parrot and please don’t diverge from the film and ask questions about my Twitter account,” he spells out, right off the bat.
The veteran actor's next big screen outing is Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi, which reunites him with co-star Paresh Rawal after 25 years. “Just to cite an example, if you are making a film like Bobby, forget about Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia, if the film was made from the perspective of Pran and Prem Nath, Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi would be a similar film,” says Rishi, of his new film.
Even though he's warned us not to stray off course, Kapoor himself launches into a monologue about why RK Films isn't making movies these days. “May be we are not capable enough to survive in these times as everything has changed. May be we have become old now or may be we may have missed the bus. Most of the things that are being done today are either compromised or are not up to the mark,” he says.
Kapoor isn't shy of sharing his opinions, and we get an example of this when he promptly declares that the music of today is garbage and cacophony. “Good poetry is being declared as rubbish by music companies. Koi aisa lamba chauda lyrics mat banao jo logo ki samajh mein nahi aaye, just rhyme it and ensure it’s a good ringtone — this seems to be the diktat of music labels. Today’s music is being made because of ring tones.” In his tirade he blames the current generation because of whom things have reached such a level. “We are the mirrors of society; we give what society wants. We are all making garbage and you are all getting garbage. Today’s it's only about who can sing in a coarse voice. There is no shelf life for any singer,” adds Rishi.
Kapoor's second onscreen innings has been peppered with experimental roles — especially when compared with his heyday as the romantic hero serenading women and winning them over. Ranbir too has opted for unconventional roles, something Rishi acknowledges. “I would agree that he (Ranbir) took a different arc. He told his mother, 'I don’t want to act in films where I have to wear baseball caps and ride a skateboard with 40 dancers behind me.' You never see that kind of cinema with Ranbir. People used to tell me that he will be ruined with such films and I'd have to respond that I have no say in his career.” Kapoor adds that had he had his way, he wouldn't have let Ranbir sign films like Wake Up Sid, Rockstar, Rocket Singh and Barfi. “After Ranbir signed Barfi, my brother asked me if he has gone mad! 'Why is he committing hara-kiri?' But he proved them wrong. Even today I don’t to agree with all of his film choices, but that’s his career.”
Kapoor makes a lot of news for his tweets, and some of them have resulted in FIRs against the actor. The man, however, remains unperturbed. “The media has to write something. I see so many things all the time being written about me. Some of which are all nonsense and garbage. Who do I point fingers at? You take things with a pinch of salt. I have said this to my son as well, that they will continue to write such things. Bad publicity is also some publicity and you are in the news. We actors have to understand that.” So does that mean that he tweets only to seek publicity? “No. I would have not taken the bull by the horns in that case. I would by currying favour and not ridiculing the government and myself and catching people unaware,” Kapoor points out.
For Rishi Kapoor, entertainment is a vital aspect of cinema. If several films have failed at the box office this year, Kapoor feels it was because they were lacking in entertainment value. “If there is no entertainment, then make it for Doordarshan. You come to cinema to be entertained and not to be preached at. If you want preaching, go to a church and meet the priest there. You can’t make boring cinema,” he says. He also cites instances to prove that India cinegoers are unique in the world and mentions that we are the only ones who pay to cry. He recalls that when his grandfather’s film Nanak Naam Jahaj had released, people would take their slippers off before entering the cinema hall. He also recalls the time when Bobby buses used to ferry people to Ghaziabad and Gurugram from Delhi when the film had not released in the two cities.
Kapoor is happy that even at age 65, he is getting roles and has the liberty to choose his work. He considers Amitabh Bachchan as the man who changed things for such senior actors. “For 26 years, I have only struggled to keep my head above water. When you talk of cyclones you say Harvey and Irma but for me cyclones were Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna. In that era no one wanted to see musical films unless they were extraordinary. The whole cinema had changed, so for me it was a struggle for the next 26 years. Whenever a newcomer came, I was told to pack up. Be it Kumar Gaurav, Kamal Haasan, Sanjay Dutt, Rajiv Kapoor, Bobby Deol — I was told that I am finished. I had to fight all these newcomers for my stardom,” reveals Rishi.
Needless to say, Rishi Kapoor is making the most of Bollywood’s changing trends. His next film will showcase him in the role of a 75-year-old son of 101-year-old Amitabh Bachchan, in 102 Not Out. Rishi Kapoor might dub his initial 26 years as a struggle to remain afloat in the business but his second innings look set to be a cakewalk.