Book Review: Khullam Khulla Rishi Kapoor-Uncensored
Author: Rishi Kapoor with Meena Iyer
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: Four stars
The sassy tweets bearing the signature style of the quintessential lover boy, chocolate hero and everlasting romantic hero of the 70s, 80s and early 90s, Rishi Kapoor bares it all in his biography Khullam Khulla, leaving little to the mind’s imagination. A candid tale, Rishi Kapoor’s Khullam Khulla comes across as a super honest and brazen take on his personal life, choice of movies, affairs, and pretty much like the gregarious Kapoor’s khandaan lifestyle where the autobiography doesn’t spare anyone or anything. While Khullam Khulla weaves the spiciest tales on what goes behind the silver screen or lives of celebrities sold like hot pancake by gossip mills, this Rishi Kapoor’s tales lights up at every episode, whipping a storm and coming as breezy, nothing less than a 70 mm blockbuster.
Spicy tales, an insider view, no hold and bare it all truth makes Khullam Khulla a sassy, juice, breezy and at times revealing. The angry young man Amitabh Bachchan and the lover boy Rishi Kapoor were arch rivals in the glory days but very few know of the cold stares between both superstars till the author reveals on what went behind the curtain. One gotta give it to Rishi Kapoor since we have been hearing stories on awards being bought when he candidly admits of being young and reckless the time, he wrestled the Filmfare best actor award right under the nose of the angry young man who was a favorite for Zanjeer.
“I am sure he felt the award was rightfully his for Zanjeer….I am ashamed to say it, but I actually ‘bought’ that award”
The 22-year old Kapoor brat actually bought his first Filmfare Award for Rs 30,000 in those days. We may pop our eye socket wide open on whether Rishi Kapoor did the right thing or not, but at least he doesn’t bat an eyelid while being so honest on the entire thing. He doesn’t stop here on his equation with Amitabh Bachchan where both did a spate of movies from Amar Akbar Anthony, Naseeb and Kabhie Kabhie. He hints at the cold war during the making of Kabhie Kabhie and uncomfortable vibes where he was probably the youngest who would not call him Amit-Ji but Amitabh. The real Rishi Kapoor comes out in the open and doesn’t flinch in spelling out his equation with colleagues or the bone he still picks with Amitabh because according to him the latter has never credited his colleagues for his success and a begrudging feeling that roles were written exclusively for the megastar.
The book scores high with Kapoor recounting how Kaka aka Rajesh Khanna, he labeled the Raj Kapoor bhakt felt threatened by him as the romantic new kid and despite reaching a maturity age, Kaka still felt that he was a romantic hero. The incorrigible and sadistic actor doesn’t stop at anything and confessed his manipulative streak on doing everything to dissuade his father Raj Kapoor not to cast Kaka in Satyam Shivam Sundaram. There are many among celebrities who would portray only the good side in their personalities but Kapoor is the in-your-face hard to please persona while speaking about his equation with wife Neetu Kapoor who felt threatened at some point by Dimple Kapadia, and at the same time he took responsibility for any ripples in the marriage.
Of course, there was the depression era after a string of flops, the failure to get up or becoming paranoid that big set lights would crash on his head, something which Amitabh Bachchan confessed to him of facing strikingly similar things. I am personally happy that Rishi Kapoor spoke about the depression in today’s times where efforts are being taken to lift off the taboo seen all over the place on social media hashtag posts about depression being real. If someone as big as Rishi Kapoor can speak about depression openly, it can do lots to change perception, removing taboos or fight prejudices.
There is no denying the fact that Rishi Kapoor opened the can of worms on the extramarital affairs that Raj Kapoor had with Nargis and Vijantimala so much that his mother along with a very younger Chintu version decided to leave the house. Kapoor doesn’t spare yesteryear actor Vijayantimala for denying the affair that was ‘manufactured for publicity’ and it’s one excerpt in the book which is a must-read.
The book is meaty and the more you want, you get it right from an uneasy relationship between the author and his father, thespian Raj Kapoor during the drunken, eccentric instances of coming back home at night. Some light moments are captured in the book, right from how stealing cigarette stubs or leftover expensive whiskeys after the gala parties at home only to be whacked later, the ‘famous spat’ with Javed Akhtar, Feroz Khan-Shammi Kapoor drunken brawl for flimsy reasons that shook his father but both ended boozing together after the fight, a tryst with the star-struck Dawood Ibrahim splurging gifts on him which he refused and that surely must have been a scary experience. I mean, how on earth, someone thwarts away the underworld Don, knowing that at some point, he had an influence on the film industry.
The tiff with Jeetendra and Rakesh Roshan, once drunk buddies to a jealous Sanjay Dutt coming to beat him at the apartment for thinking about an off-screen tango with his then-girlfriend or this hilarious anecdote of uncorking the mystery behind Boney Kapoor visit to the hotel in Goa at midnight to meet Sridevi, booking a room under the name ‘Achal Kapoor’ his real name adds spark to the tales.
The book carries a wisdom lesson on the mark of a good actor lip-synching and the superstar gives a handy tip for the younger breed to sing aloud to make the perfect pitch while the camera is still rolling. It’s probably one of the best advice tendered by the thespian to new actors stepping in front of the camera on how to match the playback singer, heed the music’s tempo and instruments to make it real. Another thing that I willfully agree with the superstar is on the lack of connection between actors and team of music directors. Why the need for our directors to apologize on songs and dance? I agree with Rishi Kapoor that music or what some call with prejudice, running behind the trees form part of our indelible charm in the movie culture where in the name of authenticity, an important aspect of Hindi cinema is being lost. A sheer lesson in realism by Rishi Kapoor and hope our cinema doesn’t lose this ‘soulful’ aspect of film-making or lights, camera and action.
Being myself a die-hard Bachchan, I am not mad at Kapoor for expressing his disagreement with my idol but at some point when he infers to Tinnu Anand roping Bachchan only in all his flicks but it’s solely Bachchan’s success not the director, it feels quite a contradiction. I disagree with that point. One thing that as a cinema lover I find missing is perhaps a long and uncensored interview conducted by co-writer Meena Iyer with Rishi Kapoor, hitting an octane high on past controversies, off-screen affairs, Twitter controversies or fall out with directors if any to end the book in style.
The book starts with an honest forward by one of the most brilliant talents that we have and son of Rishi Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor and a heartwarming after forward by wife Neetu Kapoor. Both are written straight from the heart adding shine to this amazing spicy and edgy ‘autobiography’ and the book serves as fodder for the young generation either from the movie industry or not to read and learn something on how to shed inhibitions to be real. Take a bow, Chintu-ji for this cathartic achievement! This Rishi Kapoor-Meena Iyer reminds us that coffee table books are back and if written with sheer passion can stage a resounding comeback, something which is missing on the market.