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Interview – Rishi Kapoor: “Nepotism exists in all factories, businesses in India.”

Rishi Kapoor belongs in the pantheon of Indian cinema. As one of the best actors of his time, when Amitabh Bachhan and Dharmendra were in their prime, he has had a life as interesting offscreen as he did onscreen. With a career spanning over 40 years, he is back with ‘Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi’ with the legendary Paresh Rawal and we cannot wait! He talks about his films and Bollywood.

What is the film about?
It’s a cultural shock story. The children of a Gujarati and Punjabi family fall in love and their fathers are against it. The couple, who is going to stay together have no issues, it’s the parents who are living separately that are fighting. It’s a light hearted comedy, but it teaches us to live in harmony in the end.

You come from an era where the film makers, the composers, singers and actors used to sit together to make a song. It doesn’t happen that way any more. Why do you think that is and how is affecting Indian cinema?
I don’t think it is affecting Indian cinema. Each actor takes a lot of money to do films. It isn’t the bad era. But, it isn’t applicable today. People ask me why RK Films is no longer producing movies, I always reply that we were taught to make films a certain way and now, everything has changed. Maybe we need to hire local talent to make films like they do today, but I feel like that’s a degradation – today’s films are either a compromise or they don’t meet the standard.

Love marriages are not very acceptable in our society, especially in North India. Why is that?
That’s what the film is about! It’s about one culture not being able to exist with the other. Watch the film and you’ll get the solution!

Everything you say is turned into a controversy. Does that make you think deeper about everything you say?
The media is like that. We may make comments or give opinions which are relevant or irrelevant but it is the media that makes a big deal about it. They have to write something and they tend to write anything! I’ve heard so many untrue things about myself. Good or bad, publicity is publicity.

Which film did you like in recent times?
I loved Hindi Medium and Dangal a lot!

Do you think it’s unfair that women get offered roles of characters who are older even when they are young?
One should be willing to portray any age! I played a 90 year old in ‘Kapoor & Sons’. I like actors who take up a challenge. You have to reinvent and do something different. I spent 25 years of my prime being typecast. Maybe that’s the reason I choose roles that are out there now!

Would you say this is the best phase of your career?
Yes, sure! But I wouldn’t say that the 25 years I spent as an actor when I was younger was a waste. It kept my stardom intact. I may have not been the best, but I was one of the best.

You launched so many actors!
Actually, I started my career when I was very young. So, I couldn’t act with the actresses of that time like Hema Malini and Rekha. They may have been my age but they looked older. So, we launched actresses. I acted with Neetu (Kapoor). I’ve launched so many more actors – Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Arbaaz Khan..all youngsters and newcomers.

Is it difficult to remain relevant in this time?
I don’t have to try, I tend to become relevant. The audience chooses who remains and who goes. There have been talks about nepotism recently and I’d just like to say this: Nepotism exists in every business. In factories and companies, it’s the immediate heir that inherits the property, whether he/she is capable or not! In cinema, however, you have to have skill. Raj Kapoor did not succeed because Prithviraj Kapoor was his father. He had true genius. I have been working since 40 years and am still doing so. Is it because the audience chooses to continue watching me, or is it because I’m someone’s son. An actor cannot impose himself/herself on the audience. You may be someone’s child, but if you aren’t skilled, you will not last.

Can you tell us a bit about your struggle?
I came in a time when romantic musicals weren’t wanted any more. Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra were the stars and they were doing action. The entire system had changed and the ‘Angry Young Man’ image was working. I may have not slept on railway tracks and knocked on film studio doors, but my struggle is no less than the struggles faced by them.

With recent films like ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ and ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’, do you think a trend in cinema is setting in?
See, I always believe people will enjoy good content. But, I don’t think there is any formula to success in Bollywood. If your film is good, it doesn’t matter when it is released, it will do well. If it is bad, nothing can help it. ‘Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi’ is not earth shattering, but it is headlined by two character actors in their sixties. It takes a lot of courage for the producers to back it, but I believe it is a fun film and people will like it.

Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi releases on 15th September, 2017.

Watch the trailer here!

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