An era came to an end when Rishi Kapoor left for a more peaceful abode on April 30th, 2020. A career that spanned five decade saw a growth trajectory that is rare for the Hindi Film Industry. While he ruled hearts and box office with his classic lover boy image for decades in the first 25 years of his career, the last two decades saw his terrific and fearless transformation to wittier, darker and more intense characters. From Luck by Chance to Agneepath, from Hum Tum to Do Dooni Chaar, from Kapoor and Sons to Mulk, and so many films in between, it was the most delectable second innings.
While the actor in him of his later years somewhere overshadowed his star aura of the last millenium, but the interesting thing about Rishi Kapoor was that he was not playing safe even when he was playing safe. His romantic acts were always fresh, his musicals were blooming with melody and magic, and he was still pushing the boundaries of the classic eternal lover with all the scope he made for himself. Natural, effervescent, and always full of energy, Rishi Kapoor could light up the screen just with his infectious charm and fuzzy warmth. And he delivered to that with the same quirk and dazzle every single time. In a decade like 80s where action films ruled the roost, his cinema was like fresh breeze sweeping away box office success like a charm.
And then there was the music of Rishi Kapoor films. It could be called a genre in itself. No one else would have delivered so many successful musicals single handedly like him. And why not – his lip sync was unparalleled, and when he picked up the guitar or the violin or the dafli, you could totally believe it was him and only him singing and playing on the screen. There were songs he would elevate even without singing a single note, but just with his elegant presence, and there would be others where the energy or the oomph he would induce to the song would be sensational. Even if he didn’t have such a blessed second innings, he would still be remembered as fondly just on the basis of the music of his films. A generation of young boys and girls (especially) grew up crooning to the music of Rishi Kapoor, and unless you are one of them, it is impossible to explain the effect of the phenomenon that was.
So, as I sat down to write something in memory of the veteran actor, the best ode for me would still be to remember some of his timeless melodies. For an actor for whom so many full length albums would all have terrific songs, it was a herculean task to pick up one favourite song per film and still restrict it to a manageable playlist of 20 most memorable songs. Here they are, listed in the chronological order of year of release, and each carrying a glimpse of why Rishi Kapoor was such a superstar! Just like his star persona was always completely commercial, but never formulaic; his songs also sealed their popularity without ever compromising on melody and the supereasy onscreen charm! And here are some of the best that he became an immortal part of – this is melodious entertainment at its best!
01. Main shayar to nahin | Bobby (1973)
02. O hansini | Zehreela Insaan (1974)
03. Ek main aur ek tu | Khel Khel Me (1975)
04. Tere phoolon jaisa rang | Kabhi Kabhie (1976)
05. Chal kahin door nikal jaayein | Doosra Aadmi (1977)
06. Chaand mera dil | Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin (1977)
07. Parda hai parda | Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)
08. Na jaane kaise | Badalte Rishtein (1978)
09. Jeevan ke har mod pe | Jhootha Kahin Ka (1979)
10. Dard-e-dil.. dard-e-jigar | Karz (1980)
11. Koyal boli duniya doli | Sargam (1980)
12. Hoga tumse pyaara kaun | Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981)
13. Tu tu hai wahi | Yeh Waada Raha (1982)
14. Yeh galiyan yeh chaubara | Prem Rog (1982)
15. Kahin na jaa | Bade Dil Waala (1983)
16. Chand roz aur meri jaan | Sitamgar (1984)
17. Jaane do na | Saagar (1985)
18. Tere mere hothon pe | Chandni (1989)
19. Teri ummeed tera intezaar | Deewana (1992)
20. Gawaah hain chaand taare | Damini (1993)
Bonus Track: Buddhu sa mann | Kapoor and Sons
(2016) [1952 – 2020]
Dafli bajaate rehna Rishi ji… Chaahe kitna bhi door nikal jaao….