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Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored

Son of a famous father. Father of a famous son. I am the hyphen between them.

Only, Rishi Kapoor was and is so much more. Few actors in Hindi cinema have had this sort of a career arc: from the gawky adolescent pining for his schoolteacher (Mera Naam Joker, 1970) to the naughty ninety-year-old (Kapoor and Sons, 2016), Rishi Kapoor has regaled audiences for close to fifty years…

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Son of a famous father. Father of a famous son. I am the hyphen between them.

Only, Rishi Kapoor was and is so much more. Few actors in Hindi cinema have had this sort of a career arc: from the gawky adolescent pining for his schoolteacher (Mera Naam Joker, 1970) to the naughty ninety-year-old (Kapoor and Sons, 2016), Rishi Kapoor has regaled audiences for close to fifty years. He won a National Award for his debut, became an overnight sensation with his first film as a leading man (Bobby, 1973), and carved a niche for himself with a string of romantic musical blockbusters in an era known for its angst-ridden films. He was the youth icon that is still the toast of the satellite TV circuit. The songs he lip-synced are the bread and butter of all radio stations even today. Then there was the second coming after a brief hiatus in the 1990s – as one of the finest actors in mainstream Hindi cinema with powerhouse performances in films like Do Dooni Chaar, D-Day, Agneepath and others.

Characteristically candid, Rishi Kapoor brings Punjabi brio to the writing of Khullam Khulla. This is as up close and personal a biography as any fan could have hoped for. He writes about growing up in the shadow of a legendary father, skipping school to act in Mera Naam Joker, the workings of the musical hits of the era, his streak of rotten luck with awards, an encounter with Dawood Ibrahim, his heroines (their working relationship, the gossip and the frisson that was sometimes real), his approach to his craft, his tryst with clinical depression, and more. A heart-warming afterword by Neetu Singh rounds off the warmest, most dil se biography an Indian star has ever penned.

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