April was the cruellest month. Still Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor continue to brighten our lives
Rishi Kapoor debuted as a child in the 1955 film Shri 420 long before Irrfan Khan was born. As part of Bollywood royalty Rishi’s career was golden from the start, while as an NSD outsider Irrfan made his way to the movies through more than a decade of TV. Despite countless other differences in their craft and biographies, this they had in common: Their performances worked magic among audiences. Because we have laughed and cried and romanced and danced and toiled with the characters they played, their passing feels like a personal loss.
One day we lost Irrfan and next day Rishi passed away. Every life is precious. Every death hurts. But for public figures who are widely appreciated, the grieving spans generations and continents. This was a very cruel April anyway and these two deaths tail ending it seem metaphorical (analogous) of a larger darkness. Yet, they will be with us forever. For light, we can still look to them. That is the magic of movies.
Consider just some of the previous century’s offerings of the Rishi bouquet: Bobby, Amar Akbar Anthony, Karz, Prem Rog , Saagar, Chandni, Henna and Damini. These are all iconic films and his roles unforgettable. The qawwali of Akbar Ilhabadi, the disco of Monty, the room-bound frolics of Raj, they continue to be surefire mood lifters. More recently Rishi had refashioned the impish (devilish) charm that defined the first half of his career, to reveal a greyer self with greater acting range. He did not fall behind as the film industry evolved. On social media, he now chiselled a stinging persona: “As it is pee to rahe hain legalise kar do.” The actor was a foodie. So to put it as he might have liked, Rishi you have served us gulab jamuns, chicken lollipop and caviar. Cheers to you.