Alternate Link: Rishi Kapoor Interview: Actors my age are getting work is because of Amitabh Bachchan; he spearheaded everything!
Rishi Kapoor is one of the most iconic actors of Indian cinema. After playing lead roles for more than three decades and starring in many blockbuster films, the talented actor is now playing the second inning of his professional life by doing some terrific work as a character actor. Last seen in Kapoor & Sons, Rishi will next be seen in Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi. As the film races towards its release, BollywoodMDB Reporter, Mohnish Singh, catches up with the maverick actor for an interaction.Rishi Kapoor
Q. Please, tell us something about your film, Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi.
A. It’s a fun film, a cultural shock film. There are two different kinds of characters who live in a different environment. The solution is that we all should live in harmony. That is the message which actually comes about in the film. The fun element is that they live in different ambiences, different lifestyles and how a cross connection happens. The cross connection is not with the lovers. It's the people who are not going to live together have more problems. The lovers don’t have any problems but others do have. To make the story little simpler for you, I will give you an example. If you make a film like Bobby today, forget about Rishi Kapoor and Dimple, if the film was made according to Pran and Prem Nath who played our respective fathers, that is what Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi is about. It’s about the parents of the lovers, mostly about the fathers of the lovers. It is their cultural problem for their children to settle down. So, that is what Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi is all about.
Q. In general, even though the society is open enough, it is not very open when it comes to love marriages, especially in northern and southern part of the country. Would you talk about that?
A. This is what the film is about. It is about one culture not being able to survive with the other culture. That’s what the film is about. What your question is that is what the film is. And what is the solution to it is the film which you will see.Rishi Kapoor
Q. You come from an era where actors, directors and music composers used to sit together and put in a lot of thoughts into each and every song of the movie. Even you have mentioned before that you used to discuss your songs with Mohammad Rafi and Kishor Kumar. But that does not happen anymore. Nowadays, there are multiple composers in a single film which we have read you are not in much favour of. So, why has that changed so much and how is that affecting Indian cinema? Please comment on that.
A. I don’t think it’s affecting Indian cinema because everybody is seeing films. Everybody still loves films and every actor takes a huge amount of money to work in films. So, it’s not affecting films. It’s not affecting anybody. I do tell you this much that some journalists asked me the question that why RK Films is not making films anymore. I said to them that maybe we are not capable to survive in these times. Everything has changed. We were taught to make cinema in a certain manner. Maybe we have become old fashioned. Maybe we missed the bus. Maybe we can’t make films. Maybe we need to hire some local talent to make films. But I feel it’s degradation because I feel most of the things that are done today are either compromised or are not up to what, I would say, we had in tradition for making films in RK.
A simple thing I will tell you that today a lot of singers and lyrics writers complain to me that we don’t get justified work. If we write some good poetry, if we make some good tune, we get rubbished by the music company. Music company is the boss. They say that they want ringtones and that don’t make anything which people cannot understand. Rhyme it well and create a tune which fit into a ringtone. Today, music is being made because of the ringtones. It does not sell. You don’t see cassettes being sold today, we don’t see discs being sold today. You will have to download music from some social platforms because that is what you people have done. It is the audience. It is the young generation that has brought everything to this level. You only want rhythm. You only want cacophony. We, the industry, are actually the mirror of the society. We give what the society wants. You want rubbish, you will get rubbish. We all are making garbage and you all are getting garbage. The audience back then loved poetry. They loved singers. They loved tunes. Today, it’s all about who can sing in a coarser voice. There is no self-life to any singer. Why are there no Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle? Singers now come like a flash in the pan. They work for one or two years and then out. Somebody else comes. Nobody is sustaining. Moviegoers are responsible for it. You like trash, so they will make trash for you.
I am going to tell you this also which will answer a lot of questions which you will have in mind. You might ask me how I am getting work in today’s times. Actors my age would sit at home 20-25 years back. Once their age passed, either they would get to play hero or heroine’s father or stay at home. There was no other job. I have seen many such actors. Once their prime passed, they were nobody. Why actors my age are getting work is because of Amitabh Bachchan; he spearheaded everything. Why actors like me get roles today? Why a film like Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi is made today? It does not boast of any huge, so called saleable star.
There was a time when we had only single screen theatres and there was a common audience. The audience was so simple and forgiving that they used to take anything in the name of entertainment. At any given point in time, most of the actors or rather all actors had two-three films only based on lost and found theme and two films based on love stories. It was either a rich girl, poor boy or poor girl and rich boy conflict or, in the beginning of the film, the children separate and, in the last scene, beating the villain and singing the song they reunite. These were only the type of films made those days. And the audience would lap it up. Every actor felt it was safe to play around these films because their stardom would be there. But today, with the advent of multiplex theatres which has happened, thanks to the malls and all those multiple theatres with the air-conditioning, the great sound, plush seats, terrific hot popcorn, coke, and the tickets being priced at 300-400 rupees, there is a certain section of our nation that can afford it. We have more than 400 million people in this country which belong to the upper and middle class strata of the society. They can afford, once or twice a month, to go and see the film in 300-400 rupees. These are the kind of people whose sensibility is not that of an autowallah. An autowallah still wants to see a film like Bajrangi Bhaijaan. He still wants to see south Indian rape films and crude films, the kind of films we made when I was a hero. He doesn’t want any preaching. He doesn’t want any gyaan. That (multiplex) audience has made it possible for us to get films that we do. Today, Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi is only because of that audience, otherwise you would have never had character artist like Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal heading the cast. It’s that audience who would see us. They (the single screen audience) will not even come to see my film. I don’t even bother about that. This (multiplex) audience has given India a chance to make better films. This audience has given us a chance to make Pink, Piku, Talvar, Do Dooni Char, Lipstick Under My Burkha and Shubh Mangal Savdhan. So, we are separated by two divisions.
See, films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Dangal will work well with both the audience. Both the audience will love it. But particular kind of cinema will make a lot of money with the multiplex audiences. So that is how actors like me have got a job in today’s times because different kind of films can be made with me. I was lucky to be cast or I would say it was a great stroke of luck that I did a film like Agneepath. It was a great role for me to do. It was something different for me. I have done an array of roles. I have tried to look and play different roles in my life all through. If you see, my external look has been different in all my films. Why? Because I am passionate towards my work. I love my work. I love to act. People say why don’t you direct? My first love is acting, not directing. So I have not directed a film for the same reason since Aa Ab Laut Chalen. And the God has been very kind to me that I am paid for what I love most. So, that is my answer to a lot of questions that you have in your mind.