There is an odd romantic occurrence in Rishi Kapoor’s career peculiar to him alone. Three times he has played a young man who falls in love with a much older woman. It was like the ‘Mrs Robinson’ romance happening three times over for the young actor. Each time he made the liaison look special.
1. Mera Naam Joker: Rishi was 14 when he played the younger avatar of his father Raj Kapoor who has a massive crush on his English teacher. Young Raju brings Simi Garewal freshly plucked flowers. He sighs and swoons each time she passes by. And he has his first…errr….sexual awakening when she accidently falls into the water and exposes her wet thighs to the little boy. This was not only Raju’s first visit to Thigh Land, it was Rishi Kapoor’s first romantic involvement on screen. And he looked so love stuck because he had a teeny-weeny real-life crush on Ms Garewal. But shhhhh! You didn’t hear this from me.
2. Doosra Aadmi: In 1977 when Rishi Kapoor was 25 he was paired with Raakhee Gulzar in director Ramesh Talwar’s age-challenged romance. Of course this couple couldn’t go all the way, although they promised each other ‘Chal Kahin Dur Nikal Jayen’. But before they could journey into an unconventional man-young-woman-older alliance, there was a catch. Rishi reminded his ravishing romantic interest of her dead husband played by Shashi Kapoor. Just a year before Doosra Aadmi, Shashi Kapoor had played Raakhee’s husband in Kabhi Kabhie and Rishi was her son. She admitted playing a romantic couple in Doosra Aadmi was not a happy occasion but both the actors managed to overcome their initial awkwardness. Rishi could romance anyone successfully.
3. Ek Chadar Maili Si: Litterateur Rajinder Singh Bedi’s novel about a Punjabi ritual whereby a widow is forced to marry her brother-in-law was supposed to be portrayed on screen by Geeta and Dharmendra. Finally in 1986 it went into the hands of Hema Malini and Rishi Kapoor who was ten years her junior, both on and off screen. Hema says there was no awkwardness between them. And if there was, then it served the screenplay’s purpose. But what about Rishi who had to look and act like a drunken so and so leching for his Bhabhi? Not for a second did he slip up on his performance. This guy could play anything. And everything. And with anyone.
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