Bollywood’s romantic hero Rishi Kapoor dies

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(BBC) Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor, famed for his romantic roles, has died of cancer aged 67.

He was part of the Kapoor acting dynasty which has long dominated Bollywood, the Hindi film industry.

The actor made a huge splash in 1973 with his first lead role in Bobby – a teenage love story.

He played the romantic lead in dozens of films for over two decades, after which he made a successful transition to character roles.

Rishi Kapoor debuted as a child actor in 1970 in his father Raj Kapoor’s film, Mera Naam Joker.

Several of his films in the 1980s and 90s – Khel Khel Mein, Karz and Chandni – became massive box office hits.

He was a skilful dancer and some of his films had songs that are massively popular even today.

Kapoor made a successful on-screen pair with actress Neetu Singh. In one of Bollywood’s most enduring love stories, they took that romance off-screen as well when they got married in 1980.

Their son, Ranbir Kapoor, is a successful Bollywood star in his own right.

Rishi Kapoor also worked in several multi-starrers with Amitabh Bachchan and his uncle Shashi Kapoor.

He had a second coming in this decade, doing character roles and appearing in some interesting cameos in small films.

One generation of the Kapoor family was born in the city of Peshawar in Pakistan. The family migrated to India after the partition in 1947.

In 1990, Rishi Kapoor visited a residential building in Peshawar called Kapoor Haveli where his grandfather, Prithviraj and his father Raj Kapoor, were born.

The news he had lost his battle with cancer came a day after the death of Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan.

Kapoor was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018 and returned to India last September after a year-long course of treatment in New York.

He was taken to hospital on Wednesday morning after he complained of breathing difficulties, his brother Randhir Kapoor told the Press Trust of India.

The actor’s family confirmed his death in a message saying his life had ended peacefully.

“The doctors and medical staff at the hospital said he kept them entertained to the last. He remained jovial and determined to live to the fullest right through two years of treatment across two continents. Family, friends, food and films remained his focus and everyone who met him during this time was amazed at how he did not let his illness get the better of him.

“He was grateful for the love of his fans that poured in from the world over. In his passing, they would all understand that he would like to be remembered with a smile and not with tears.”

The family also appealed to his fans and friends to follow restrictions around gathering in public because of the lockdown over coronavirus and respect the laws that are in force.

Meanwhile, tributes have been pouring in for Kapoor from his fellow Bollywood actors and politicians on social media.

Amitabh Bachchan who worked in several hit films with Kapoor tweeted: “He’s GONE .. ! Rishi Kapoor .. gone .. just passed away .. I am destroyed !”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described him as “multifaceted, endearing and lively” and “a powerhouse of talent”.

“I will always recall our interactions, even on social media. He was passionate about films and India’s progress. Anguished by his demise,” he tweeted.

Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi also tweeted about his death: “This is a terrible week for Indian cinema, with the passing of another legend, actor Rishi Kapoor. A wonderful actor, with a huge fan following across generations, he will be greatly missed.”

News of his death has also seen an outpouring of sadness on social media in Pakistan.

Former fast bowler Waqar Younis was among those who tweeted their condolences.

There was particular sadness in the city of Peshawar, where the Kapoor family used to live before the Partition of British India in 1947.

Candles were lit there for Rishi’s uncle Shashi Kapoor, another Bollywood star, when he died in 2017. Such a tribute for Rishi Kapoor may not happen, owing to Covid-19 restrictions.

“But Peshawar will dearly miss Rishi,” the city’s Cultural Heritage Council secretary Shakil Waheedullah told the BBC.

He was received at the actor’s residence in 2009 on the first of two trips he made to Mumbai.

“He really made me feel at home.”

Kapoor was prolific on social media, frequently commenting on controversial issues.

His last tweet was an appeal to people not to attack medical staff at the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus saying, “we have to win this war together”.