Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor, the romantic star of many a Bollywood film who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018, died in a Mumbai hospital on Thursday, his brother Randhir Kapoor said. He was 67. Rishi, a third generation actor of the famous Kapoor dynasty, is survived by his wife Neetu Kapoor, actor son Ranbir and daughter Ridhima.
Rishi and Neetu Kapoor were married for 40 years. They tied the knot on January 22, 1980. In 2015, Rishi spoke on The Anupam Kher Show – Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai, how he met his wife Neetu on the sets of their 1974 film Zehreela Insaan and how he fell in love with her.
“I remember I had an argument with my girlfriend at the time and I was very heartbroken. Trying to win her back, I had taken Neetu’s help in writing telegrams to my girlfriend while the two of us were shooting for Zehreela Insaan,” Rishi said in a statement.
“As time passed, I began to realise that Neetu is the one for me as I began to miss her when I had gone to Europe for a shoot. Ironically, I sent her a telegram from Europe to Kashmir saying that I was thinking of her,” he added.
Rishi was taken to the HN Reliance hospital by his family on Wednesday. His death comes a day after after his D-Day co-star Irrfan Khan passed away, also of cancer. Three months ago, the disease claimed his sister Ritu Nanda.
“Our dear Rishi Kapoor passed away peacefully at 8:45am IST in hospital today after a two-year battle with leukemia. The doctors and medical staff at the hospital said he kept them entertained to the last.
He remained jovial and determined to live to the fullest right through two years of treatment across two continents. Family, friends, food and films remained his focus and everyone who met him during this time was amazed at how he did not let his illness get the better of him”, the family said in a statement.
Rishi made his first screen appearance as a child artiste in his father Raj Kapoor’s film Shri 420, where he appeared in the song Pyaar hua ekraar hua . This was followed by Mera Naam Joker. But it was in 1973, with the blockbuster Bobby, again directed by his father, that he made his debut as a romantic hero. He continued to be a favourite romantic hero for almost three decades.
His notable films as a romantic hero are Laila Majnu, Rafoo Chakkar, Karz, Chandni, Heena and Saagar.
He was, however, more proud of his second innings as an actor, which he found more satisfying. His notable films as a character artiste are Do Dooni Chaar with wife Neetu, Agnipath and Kapoor & Sons.