Monday, 27 February 2017

Book Review: Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored by Rishi Kapoor and Meena Iyer

Book: Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored 

Author: Rishi Kapoor, Meena Iyer

Pages: 280 

Read on: Kindle 

Read in: 2 hours 

Publisher: HarperCollins 

Plot Summary: 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.

Things I Liked:

1. I loved the old-Bollywood bits of the book. Rishi Kapoor's childhood was spent surrounded by the best and the brightest of the film industry and he reminisces about those people and those times and I loved reading about it! 

2. Rishi Kapoor is also pretty candid- but slightly selectively but let's give him that for now- about his father's love affairs- with women and booze as well as vaguely referencing some trouble in his own marriage. So, yeah, he wasn't trying to be all politically correct or keeping his autobiography very sanitised and that is something extremely brave. 

3. There are also some interesting anecdotes and backstories about how he landed certain roles. A particularly hilarious one involved how he got offered Manmohan Desai's Amar Akbar Anthony over a bad telephone connection, which made him think that it was a massively weird historical mishmash of Anthony and Cleopatra and the Mughal Emperor Akbar's life! 

4. I found the foreword and afterword particularly interesting! In the foreword, Ranbir Kapoor very candidly mentioned how he does not have a close relationship with his father and in the afterword, Neetu Kapoor very indirectly mentioned that being married to Rishi Kapoor was trying because he is "very possessive" of her and doesn't even like it if she gives more attention to her own son. Hmm. 

5. There were some interesting snippets into Raj Kapoor and Prithviraj Kapoor's life as well. I didn't know that Prithviraj Kapoor lived out the last days of his life on the property we now know as Prithvi Theatre. Also, did you know that, at one point in the 1950s, Matunga was what Pali Hill is today? Basically, where all the film stars lived? I didn't! I loved these bits of trivia! 

Things I Didn't Like:
1. This book is supposed to be an 'uncensored' account but there are things about his marriage and personal life (for instance, why does Ranbir not feel close to his dad), which are left very vague and not addressed at all! 

2. Some very petty feuds were addressed in the book- his fight with Rakesh Roshan, Jitendra (who were once his BFFs) and other such things.. Quite boring! I would have preferred more glimpses into old Bollywood- they were much more interesting! 

Rating: 3.5/5 
This is a fun and quick read- perfect for travel and on-the-go kind of days! 

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