Rishi Kapoor 2.0: Scoring a Golden Second Innings in Bollywood

When Rishi Kapoor appeared as the male lead in the 1973 Raj Kapoor film Bobby, he became a star overnight. He was all of 21, represented the formidable Kapoor lineage, and flaunted a brattish charm along with passable acting chops. He went on to become one of the reigning stars of Bollywood for the next three decades, performing in hits like Khel Khel Mein (1975), Amar Akbar and Anthony (1977), Karz (1980), Prem Rog (1982), Saagar (1985), and Chandni (1989), to name only a few.

Rishi Kapoor in his first film, Bobby

But it’s only in his second innings really - when Kapoor started picking up “characters” in lieu of lead roles - that he began showcasing what a seasoned actor he is. Meaty parts that he would’ve never have had as the leading man are coming his way now, and the actor is biting into them with all the hunger of a true artiste.

Whether it’s the pure evil who is Rauf Lala in Agneepath (2012), the ever curious and fun-loving grandfather in Kapoor & Sons (2016), or the upright yet helpless Murad Ali Mohammed in Mulk (2018) - Rishi Kapoor is having a golden second run. And if you ask us, it would far outlive the work of his first.

As the actor turns 66 on 4 September, we look at some of Rishi Kapoor’s best roles till date in his second innings in Bollywood.

Santosh Duggal, Do Dooni Chaar (2010)

Playing Santosh Duggal, a math teacher in a small private school in Delhi, Rishi Kapoor bit into this delightful slice-of-life comedy with elan. Playing a honest, middle-class and middle-aged Punjabi man, whose life revolves around his family, and who fights to bring their small dreams come true, Kapoor makes us laugh and cry with him to deliver a flawless performance.

Rishi and Neetu Kapoor in Do Dooni Chaar.

Rauf Lala, Agneepath (2012)

Every time Rauf Lala comes on screen in the revenge drama remake, you see how much Rishi Kapoor, the actor, is enjoying himself. An out and out evil man, who is as cunning as he is ruthless, the child trafficker and drug lord in Kapoor’s hands became one of Bollywood’s most formidable villains. If you want to watch the film again, it’s chiefly to indulge in Lala’s unabashed villainy.

Rishi Kapoor as Rauf Lala in Agneepath.

Dadu, Kapoor and Sons (2016)

It’s rare to find an elderly person in a Bollywood film who’s either not whining and helpless or trying to extract promises from all and sundry on his/ her deathbed. But Dadu in Kapoor and Sons is anything but. Transforming into an 80-year-old who loves to talk dirty and break rules, and yet works to keep his family together, Kapoor’s Dadu is one of the most endearing characters of Kapoor and Sons. The actor sat through hours of make-up every day to get into the skin of Dadu - quite literally - and despite endless fights with director Shakun Batra, delivered a top-notch performance.

Babulal Vakharia, 102 Not Out

102 Not Out revolves around a father-son duo and how the 102-year-old parent teaches his 75-year-old to truly live all over again. While the film has its highs and lows, one thing that stands out is Rishi Kapoor’s performance as the the dour and heartbroken son. From his body language to his expressions, Kapoor delivers a pitch-perfect act to the extent that Big B, who plays the father, seems to be hamming hard in comparison at times.

Rishi Kapoor in 102 Not Out.

Murad Ali Mohammed, Mulk

Mulk is led by Murad Ali Mohammed, a successful lawyer in Varanasi, who finds himself on the dock along with the rest of his family when his nephew turns out to be a terrorist. It must have been a dream role for Kapoor - and he dived into the film with a gusto that translated into a fiery act on the screen. Murad is as righteous as he is gentle, as idealistic as he’s helpless, and Kapoor makes you root for the man every bit of the way. An award-worthy performance for sure.

A still from Mulk

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