One of the greatest legends of Bollywood, Rishi Kapoor, passed away on 30th April 2020, sending a shockwave to the entire world. He completed a mighty 67-year-old stint on planet Earth (4th September 1952 to 30th April 2020). Coincidentally, I happened to look at the autobiography he wrote, “Khullam Khulla” a few days before. Meena Iyer co-authored it. The paperback of the book shows Rishi Kapoor in his quintessential style, smiling wryly in a black coat. The disclaimer “uncensored” captured my curiosity, to be honest. Well, when you graze through the book, the disclaimer seems to be justified.
Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored (Review)
Chintu, as he was popularly known amongst the film fraternity, was one of the most loved chocolate boys of his era in the Hindi cinema. Over the years of his career, spanning about five decades (1970 to 2019), he proved his acting prowess by enacting various roles making him indomitable. His death prompted my curiosity to reach sky-high, and I decided to read the autobiography finally. I must say that it is one of the best autobiographies, and he makes his presence felt then and there through his words. As the name suggests, the book is a totally frank reveal of events and his feelings about his life’s events right from his earlier days till the present moment when he wrote it. The basic nature of his conversations is one that does not mince words. A tell it as-it-is narration shows his courage and honesty and the fact that there are no filters to sound the professional actor that he is, is amicable. If you have seen or are interested in the videos showing the paparazzi about Bollywood stars, you would see that Rishi Kapoor sounds the most brashful and irritated of all, with the media that crowd the gate of any celebrity’s houses during parties. His direct replies and scourges at the public would also force you to read his autobiography to know what lies behind that tough exterior of this legendary artist. His personality reflects in Khullam Khulla, just as transparent as it can be.
The book is carefully divided into 12 sections, barring the before-word from his son Ranbir Kapoor and the afterword by Neetu Kapoor, his wife. Each chapter revolves around his great passion for his legendary family and the greatest love of his life, i.e., acting. When you flip through the first page itself, it shows his gratitude for being from the Kapoor clan and also about his father, the legendary actor Raj Kapoor’s love interest outside the marriage with Nargis, justifying the title “Khullam Khulla.” His great regard for his great-grandfather and actor, Prithiviraj Kapoor, is evident throughout the book. It gives every detail about how his great-grandfather entered the film industry, living a very principled life, wherein he would be shy to even ask the fee entitled to him by virtue of his work. There are interesting details not known to the public generally about how Raj Kapoor started his career in films, and how the legendary RK banner came into existence. His first film that he speaks with a fiery passion, Mera Naam Joker, won him a National award and brought tears in the eyes of Prithviraj Kapoor.
To the audience who decides to brand a film as a hit or a flop, just in the wink of an eye, this book shows as to what percentage of an actor’s soul is spent in the making of a film. When you proceed along with the book, you get to see each and every detail of all the films that he did in the course of his lifetime. The background of the film, the emotions behind it, the reasons for doing it are all written explicitly and presented to us readers. He claims that some were done to work with the greatest directors of his times and some because of the exceptional story-line. Does it contain his vulnerable side? Yes, it does. He admits that he underwent depression after Karz failed to score at the box-office charts in June, 1980, months after his marriage with Neetu Kapoor. He does not battle an eyelid admitting that he blamed his marriage for the failure of Karz. He tells us how he managed to overcome this depression, which lowered his confidence so much that he could not face the camera. It took him some time to muster up his courage, bang on, and give us more hits. This book must be read by people who want to get inspiration after undergoing career setbacks too.
Embarrassing honest confessions also adorn the book. Few are very humorous, e.g., his misbehavior with the staffs of a restaurant on account of his break-up with his then girl-friend Yasmin, him not paying the nearby cigarette vendor for his cigarettes while a teenager, his cold-war and discomfort with Amitabh Bachchan at the start of their careers, or he being called a “char-futiya” (dwarf) by director Manmohan Desai. Some are just honest admittance of emotions like him being possessive of Dimple Kapadia for being his first heroine, or his meaningless dislike for Rajesh Khanna, his fist with Sanay Khan in a party or him being insulted by Javed Akhtar over the success of a movie. As I stated earlier, this book is an open book of his life."While reading this book, one also gets to know the passion that yesteryear movie makers had for films." Click To Tweet
While reading this book, one also gets to know the passion that yesteryear movie makers had for films, right from getting into the depth of the characters, to choosing the right singers singing real-time with musicians, the lip-sync that played an indispensable part of the Bollywood numbers to the lyricists. He clearly expresses his dislike in the modern method of filmmaking. Talking about his family life, apart from his reverence for Raj Kapoor, he has talked about his loving mother, Krishna Raj Kapoor. He has dedicated an entire chapter to his leading lady, the steady wife, Neetu Kapoor, whom he loved in the course of a bumpy ride full of ups-and-downs, nonetheless, but never astrayed. His love for Ranbir Kapoor, though the latter maintained a safe distance from Rishi Kapoor, as they had a very formal father-son equation and his love for daughter Riddhima.
A star looks larger than life to most of us. The Kapoor clan’s image is also far from real and normal lives. But the artist who is very close to all of us uses this book as a medium to break these barriers. He shows his strengths and vulnerabilities only to leave a life-long impression in our minds. A must-read, nonetheless!