Will Rishi Kapoor's 'Uncensored, Khullam Khulla' be the no-holds-barred autobiography fans hope for?

Gautam Chintamani

Jan,04 2017 14:03:20 IST

An autobiography, it is said, is the story of how a man thinks he lived and this could not be any truer when it comes to films actors.

Depending on the mind behind the words, a film actor’s account of their own life may range from being outrageously funny to outrageously sad, from the boastful to the colorful and while it might also be juicy or even insightful, the chances of it necessarily be truthful are rare. If, however, the person happens to be Rishi Kapoor, then rest assured — there is a fair chance that an autobiography might just strike the right balance. The actor tweeted about his upcoming autobiography, Rishi Kapoor: Uncensored Khullam Khulla (HarperCollins) and from what is known about the actor’s brazen honesty in both the real as well as the virtual world, this promises to be the one hatke star autobiography.

Rishi Kapoor. File Photo/News 18

Rishi Kapoor. File Photo/News 18

Written in collaboration with Meena Iyer, Kapoor tweeted that, “this one’s from the heart, my life and times, as I lived it”, and if the actor talks about his times with the same honesty that he lived through them, this book would end up becoming an important resource for fans and followers of Hindi cinema. Most of Kapoor’s life has been an open book, thanks to a combination of him being flagrantly unguarded about it and moreover, being born in what is popularly considered the first family of films in India, the Kapoors. The spotlight has been a constant part of his existence. Kapoor is also perhaps one of the very few actors to have debuted in the 1970s and managed to survive not only the Rajesh Khanna wave but also the Amitabh Bachchan juggernaut.

The year when Kapoor became the new heartthrob of the young in India with Bobby, 1973 is also the one that saw the arrival of Bachchan with Zanjeer (1973). In about half a decade since the time the two burst upon the scene, Kapoor and Bachchan would go on to become a very successful pair after having been cast in films such as Amar, Akbar, Anthony (1977), Naseeb (1981) and Coolie (1983) but the first time the two came together for a film was not all that jovial. Unlike Bachchan, who between Zanjeer and Don (1978) rarely featured as the solo lead, Kapoor had stayed away from multi-starrers and had great solo hits with Rafoo Chakkar (1975) and Khel Khel Mein (1975). It is believed that Kapoor felt the press was being slightly unfair in talking about Bachchan being the only rising star. In fact, he was not too keen on doing Kabhi Kabhie (1976), the first film where he and Bachchan featured together her. By his own admission in the past, Kapoor has mentioned that he was not interested in the film and the only reason he agreed was because of Neetu Singh’s presence. Kapoor and Singh were on the verge of falling in love and Kapoor thought he would walk out of the film after a schedule in Kashmir, which he was treating as a holiday.

Kapoor not only stood his own in front of Bachchan in Kabhi Kabhie, but even turned it into a performance that only grows better every time you revisit the film. This is a testimony of how Kapoor’s stardom and his lineage have often overshadowed his place in the pantheon of Hindi cinema greats. The same year Kapoor had one of his biggest hits, Khel Khel Mein, the film whose song ‘Khullam khulla pyar karenge’ inspired the title of his autobiography and followed it up with Barood (1976). Rishi Kapoor not only survived the ‘superstars’ (both Khanna and Bachchan) with flourish, but also created a unique legacy of his own via the films that followed: Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977) – one of biggest hits of the 1970s not to feature Bachchan, Doosara Aadmi (1977), Sargam (1979), Laila Majnu (1979) and Karz (1980). Kapoor would also be the last of the stars in the league of a Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, and Rajesh Khanna to have been blessed with some of the best songs of his era.

It is this facet of Kapoor’s career that has been conspicuously missing from Hindi film literature. Although a process of change is underway where commentators, this writer included, have been rediscovering Kapoor’s legacy, getting to read what the actor thinks about it himself would be priceless. Kapoor is not one to wax eloquent about the nuances of a performance and has often said that while he respects all schools of acting he is not one for method acting. He made no bones about how he and Shakun Batra, the director of Kapoor and Sons, constantly fought as he believed he lost his spontaneity when Batra tried to shoot the same scene from multiple angles. But it would be intriguing to learn more about the manner in which he took some of the cheesiest roles and made them bearable or turned the routine into art.

It is not just his films but also his personal life where Kapoor has been vociferously honest when needed — he went public in chiding Vyjayanthimala when the actress brushed off her affair with Kapoor’s father, Raj Kapoor, or asking fans of son, Ranbir Kapoor, to lay off him on Twitter for he is not a 'postman'. Kapoor has even addressed the rumors of trouble in his marriage like a regular person when asked and once even tweeted about a fight Neetu Singh Kapoor where she doubted his scientific reasoning post 8 pm! He is also one of the first from the Mumbai film fraternity to question the proliferation of the Nehru-Gandhi name across public property.

In a day and age when even autobiographies run the risk of being hagiographies such as Dilip Kumar’s own account where the narrative simply chooses to not mention the unsavoury, or blatantly honest such as Naseeruddin Shah’s where a reviewer noted “the collateral damage can be awesome”, while some such as the late Dev Anand managed to hold the mirror to reflect more of what was inside than what was out there — in Rishi Kapoor, we might just find a new kind of honesty for actor biographies that would be polemical but not preachy, expository but not damning and of course, sans the typically misplaced actor’s self-veneration.

Updated Date: Jan 04, 2017 14:03 PM