Khullam Khula: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored – Biography review

For people, the cinema actors are larger than life. They are demigods who adorn the wall of every cinema lover. The craze of fans for stars is hysterical. Legendary actor Raj Kapoor was one star who took nation by storm with movies like Awaara, Boot Polish, Mera Naam Joker, Aag etc. The legacy started by Prithviraj Kapoor was continued by his next generation kids – Raj, Shammi and Shashi. Among the crowd of these star studded family, a small kid made his work noticed in Mera Naam Joker. Though Mera Naam Joker flopped, the kid aspired to make it big on silver screen one day.

In the 70’s a chocolate boy debuted on the silver screen with his romantic venture – Bobby. Rest was history. He was Rishi Kapoor, son of the legendary Raj Kapoor. Bobby’s success made him an overnight romantic hero and heartthrob of generation. His debut in movie was a fairy tale story, but his struggle-some journey to maintain his success in Bollywood was not a bed of roses.

Every Friday, a new movie releases and a new star is born. Rishi Kapoor’s debut movie – Bobby made him a talk of town. But his second movie ‘Zehreela Insaan’ was a disaster. Here his real journey began to sustain his image in the unpredictable Bollywood. In his official biography ‘Khullam Khula’ Rishi Kapoor recounts his early years, his rise to stardom, break up, cold vibes with Amitabh & Rajesh Khanna and his second innings as character actor in Agneepath, Kapoor and Sons, Student of the year etc.

What intrigued me to read was the prologue written by his son Ranbir Kapoor, the current heartthrob of today’s generation. In the prologue, Ranbir reveals his strained relationship with his father but still respects him as one of the great actors of the Indian cinema.

The prologue conveys a lot about Rishi Kapoor as a human, caring husband and a doting father. What makes this biography worth reading is its friendly tone that breaks the ice between the star and the reader. Here Rishi Kapoor is more of a human and less of a star who recounts his childhood days, his first movie as a toddler in Shree 420 and second movie as a teenager in Mera Naam Joker. Through this biography, we learn a lot about the legendary Raj Kapoor and his passion for cinema through the eyes of Rishi Kapoor. It is a treat to know about Raj Kapoor’s fondness for movie making and his struggle to make RK studios a leading banner in movie making. Post the success of Bobby and his fairy tale wedding with actress Neetu Singh, Rishi’s career witnessed a dark phase when his ambitious movie – Karz didn’t fare up to his expectations. He literally went into depression and was unable to face camera. It took him a plenty of time to come out of his dark phase and re-emerge as an actor. This biography is not just about Rishi Kapoor, it is also the story of his family, his co-stars, music directors, choreographers and the big movie banners that supported him through his journey. Apart from talking about his successful journey in Bollywood, he also spills the untold stories about his breakup with his girlfriend Yasmin Mehta, his cold arguments with his close buddies – Jeetendra and Rakesh Roshan. He even admits about the rejecting the negative role in Darr which eventually went to Shahrukh Khan.

A rare pic of Rishi Kapoor with his family. (The little Ranbir Kapoor looks super cute)

What left me tear eyed was the story of R.D.Burman whose music was getting unnoticed due to the entry of new generation music directors in 90’s. He once requested Rishi Kapoor to get him some work. Though R.D.Burman was financially stable, it was the idleness that was bothering him. Sadly R.D.Burman couldn’t make a second innings and died a quiet death in 90’s. What a sad phase for this legendary R.D.Burman. Rishi Kapoor was miserably written off every time a generation of actors arrived in movies. Despite the stiff competition, Rishi Kapoor survived in the race. The epilogue is written by his wife Neetu Kapoor about her journey with her husband. It is very heart touching to read that epilogue. To the world, he is a star, but for the family, he is a difficult man to handle who lives by his own terms. We knew Rishi Kapoor as a star, but now we know him personally as a human who is eccentric, outspoken and a reserved gentleman.

His second coming in Do Dooni Chaar, Agneepath, Student of the year, D-Day, Kapoor and Sons fetched him lots of praises. Among all the movies, Karz and Yeh Vaada Raha are my favorites which were based on English Novels. Karz was based on Reincarnation of Peter Proud while Yeh Vaada Raha was based on Danielle Steels’ novel – The Promise.

The biography ‘Khullam Khula’ is an honest effort by Rishi Kapoor to write down about his journey as an actor. It is really worth the read to know about the 70’s star whose legacy is been continued by his son Ranbir Kapoor.

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5 thoughts on “Khullam Khula: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored – Biography review

  1. What a wonderful review! i was hooked right from the beginning and could not help but read it all in a quick take. Indeed, this book promises to be a very compelling take on one of Bollywood’s most under-appreciated performers.

    A candid man, one utterly impulsive and even brutally honest, even about himself and yet a wonderfully warm person to all, Rishi Kapoor is also possibly the one actor who went through one of the most grilling careers spread over nearly 45 years. He had often been written off as inconsequential and irrelevant by all but the man persisted and kept on starring in films that only added up to his great portfolio as a performer. He was brilliant as a romantic lead, filled with the genuine goodness that even today’s chocolate boys lack in. He was even more brilliant in side performances and character roles of recent days that have redefined his career for good. He is an example of an actor who has matured through his work and superbly so.

    In today’s times, we can only hail unfairly overrated stars and screen goddesses when what we forget is that there are also real actors like Rishi Kapoor. Thankfully, due to the work of directors and writers who saw the best in this nearly neglected man, he is now getting the due that he always deserved. It is also heartening to see young Ranbir Kapoor, clearly a fine and often underrated actor himself, to carry on the legacy of versatile and nuanced acting of his talented father.

    Brilliant review Prashant. Poignant, crisp and very well-done, indeed.

    • Thanks for your encouraging words zoeb. This article is my second venture into Bollywood, a star studded story about the 70’s star rishi. The biography has everything – romance, hatred, music, scuffles, failures, rise and success. This biography deserves to be made into biopic someday. Your comments has definitely uplifted my efforts.

  2. Hello Mr Prashant,

    I am Shrilaxmi Hegde, Associate editor of Elders Digest ( A non-profit magazine for senior citizens based out of Chennai).

    I wanted to enquire you whether you would be open to reproducing your review of the book Khullam Khulla on our magazine.

    Thank you,
    Shrilaxmi Hegde

    • Hello Srilaxmi Madam,

      First of all thanks for commenting on my blog. This article is written for creative purpose. At presently, I haven’t thought on reproducing my written works with any website or magazine. It was very nice of you for considering my written work for your magazine.

  3. Thank you for the reply. You have a great blog. I discovered it while reading this blog post.
    Would you be open to writing such reviews for our magazine in future?
    (Tried your email id – not working , sorry for sending personal messages here)

    Thank you

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