Watching Rishi Kapoor on the silver screen was one thing and dealing with him for work was another thing altogether. His family members and friends say he was always honest and if he scolded you it came from a place of love. A lot of field reporters like me never got to see the lovely side of him so I would always wonder why he was mean and grumpy with me most the time. But as a kid, I did have a strange encounter with the movie star.
I was born and raised in Chembur, right next to RK Studio. Going inside RK Studio and spotting movie stars was an everyday thing. But the security guard would only let us inside when Rishi Kapoor was not around. On many occasions, Rishi had seen us and each time he would make sure we were kicked out. He used to tell the old lanky security guard that if he spotted us again, he would kick him out of the job. Thankfully that guard never lost his job.
After a few days, Rishi Kapoor saw us again. He told the guard, "Inn sab bachon ko mere office lekar aao." Two of my friends ran away, and I was left with just one friend. The security guard escorted the two of us to the actor's office. He was kind, he told us, "Kuch nahi hoga, buss sorry bol dena saab ko."
When we entered Rishi Kapoor's office, we were first in awe of his peppy good looks. Here was this film star, annoyed with two 14-year-old boys. We were expecting fireworks. First, he enquired who we were, who our parents were, and what do they do for a living. Somehow, both of us had some filmi connection. Rishi Kapoor figured he knew our parents - that's when his tone changed. He called his peon and said, "Do Goldspot lekar aao inke liye."
Then Rishi asked us, "Roz dekhne aate ho! Kya hai idhar?" I was quiet but my friend said, 'Actors!'
"Dekho! Saamne baitha hu! Kya haiactorsmein khaas? Tumhare jaise do aankhe, ek naak, do kaan!" Rishi Kapoor got a call on the landline and started talking loudly, laughing while my friend and I were enjoying the orange soft drink. He had to leave immediately after the call, so he looked at us and said. "Buss ho gaya? Dekh liya filmstar? Ab kal se aana mat!" He sat in his car and drove out of the studio at full speed.
As neighbours of the studio, we thought it was our right to walk inside RK Studio at any time. Neither did we stop going to RK Studio, and nor did Rishi Kapoor stop scolding us.
I joined NDTV in 2002, and in 2003 Karisma Kapoor got married. I had to cover the wedding for the channel. During that time all the news channels were quite obsessed with using their new OB vans; everyone wanted to show the baraat and celebrity guests live to their audience. And to be fair there was a lot of interest in the Kapoor khandaan wedding.
The wedding was around noon. We showed up outside the Kapoor family bungalow in Deonar around 8 am to do lives and talk about what was expected.
Rishi Kapoor came out around 9:30 am and saw a lot of media milling about. He called his staff - "Inn sabko paani pilao, chai pilao, cold drink pilaao. Take care of them." In 10 minutes, he came to check and asked us, "Sab theek hai? You got food?" We all nodded, with cold drinks and biscuits in our hands.
The ceremony started inside, guests kept arriving in fancy cars and loud outfits. Soon, the bride and groom came out for a photo-op. They posed for a minute and went back inside.
The same Rishi Kapoor who offered us food just a while ago stormed out of his gate a few hours later. He looked the same but he was another person by then. He was in high spirits and he looked at us and yelled, "Ye kya laga ke rakha hai? Who has called you people here? This is a private ceremony. Please leave." He called the security guard and told him to move all of us out of the lane. So soon after we were given cold drinks, chai and biscuits, we were insulted and asked to exit the lane. We left because there was no other option and the job was pretty much done after the photo-op.
There were many such incidents where I saw different shades of Rishi Kapoor. On some days, he was as gentle as Ravi from Saagar, and the other days he was terrifying like Rauf Lala from Agneepath.
(Rohit Khilnani is Entertainment Editor, NDTV)
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