'Rishi Kapoor ji was a great romantic on-screen but the opposite otherwise': Padmini Kolhapure remembers him

Padmini Kolhapure fondly remembers her late and favourite co-star Rishi Kapoor on his second death anniversary.

Updated on May 01, 2022 02:55 AM IST  |  735.6K
'Rishi Kapoor ji was a great romantic on-screen but the opposite otherwise': Padmini Kolhapure remembers him
'Rishi Kapoor ji was a great romantic on-screen but the opposite otherwise': Padmini Kolhapure remembers him
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In a happy happenstance, Padmini Kolhapure, who was a crazy Rishi Kapoor fan, found herself to be his ladylove in Prem Rog. Raj Kapoor’s trenchant take on caste and patriarchy, had Padmini, as Manorama, traverse an arc– from vulnerability to verve with Rishi’s Devdhar walking along her bristly path. Manorama’s innocence was offset by his intensity. Clad in white amidst the flower-sprinkled fields, running away from Dev and herself, Manorama allegorized spring’s second call.

Prem Rog remains a milestone in Padmini’s career as it does in Rishi Kapoor’s. Though they went on to do several films together, it remains the bedrock of their bond, that of mutual respect and admiration. Undeniably, her first screen love holds the pride of place in the chronicle of her life.

In Padmini Kolhapure’s own words…

padmini kolhapure

I was a crazy fan of Rishi Kapoor since Bobby (1973). As a kid, I must have watched Bobby umpteen times at Chandan theatre, close to my house in Juhu. I remember bunking school with my sister Shivangi (Kolhapure) and our friend Shama to watch his films Rafoo Chakkar, Zehreela Insaan, and Khel Khel Mein. His pairing with Neetu Singh was magical.

The first time I saw Chintu or Rishiji was on the set of Insaaf Ka Tarazu (1980) at Film City. He had dropped in for some work. He saw me doing some dance steps. He already knew of me as I’d played Zeenat Amaan’s childhood in Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978).

Later, he strongly recommended me to Nasir Hussain saab. That’s how I was signed for Nasir saab’s Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981) opposite him. Just as Ashaji (Bhosle) was responsible for my career as a child actor (the singer introduced young Padmini to Dev Anand, who signed her for Ishq Ishq Ishq in 1974), Rishiji was responsible for making me a leading lady.

News soon spread that I’d been signed by Nasir Hussain. Around the same time, I also signed Esmayeel Shroff’s Ahista Ahista (1981). That’s when Rajji (Kapoor) sent for me. He wanted me for Prem Rog (1982). But his assistants and he feared I appeared too young for the role of the widow Manorama. When they made me do the screen test in a white saree, Raj saab was convinced that I’d be able to carry the role.

Coming back to Rishiji, of course, I was very much intimidated by him when we began shooting for Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai. We first shot the song Poocho na yaar kya hua. My heart was pounding. But Rishiji made me feel comfortable. Because it was a song and dance sequence, something which I enjoyed, I pulled it off. Had it been a dramatic scene, it would have been tough. It’s not that I was facing the camera for the first time. As a child actor, I’d worked earlier with stalwarts like Sanjeev Kumar (Zindagi), Hema Malini (Dream Girl), and Rajesh Khanna (Thodisi Bewafaii) … But because I was in awe of Rishiji and was his ardent fan, I felt nervous.

Rishiji was not too happy doing Prem Rog. “Sab toh Padmini ka hai! It’s a woman-oriented film,” he’d keep muttering. Just to pull my leg, he’d remark, “Mere dates kyon maang rahe ho? Main kya kar raha hoon? Padmini ke lo, usski film hai.” Having said that, he portrayed his character of Devdhar or Dev so sensitively, you just fell in love with him. Dev steals your heart. The impact he created, his nuances, his body language, every gesture… is worth watching. If it wasn’t for Rishiji, Prem Rog would not have become the film it did.

When you have a good actor in front of you, it benefits your performance as well. If your co-star is dheela, then it gets boring. Rishiji could pull off the most challenging scenes with ease. There was no dramebaazi ke ab perform karna hai toh main mood mein chala jaata hoon. Nothing of that sort ever.

The truth is, Rishiji looked in love in every film. (Laughs) He was a great romantic on-screen but the opposite otherwise. You could fall in love with him watching him on screen. But you would be shuddering and shivering when you meet him personally.

He didn’t throw any tantrums as such on the set but he had this habit of screaming and yelling, though he meant no harm. That was just him. Also, he was not given any special treatment being Rajji’s son on the set of Prem Rog. (Laughs) The special treatment was only for me.

My love for food has come from the Kapoors. They fed and fed and fed everyone on the set. Neetu would pack Rishiji’s diet-friendly tiffin. But he would not even look at it and instead feast on the food we were having. Neetu knew about it. She was on his case and made him adhere to his diet. All credit goes to her for keeping him fit those days.

We did many films together including Yeh Ishq Nahin Aasaan (1984), Rahi Badal Gaye (1985), Pyaar Ke Kabil (1987). But he always viewed me as a bachchi since I’d begun as a child artiste with RK’s Satyam Shivam Sundaram. In an endearing gesture, he’d praise me in front of others saying, “Kya actress hai!”

We kept bumping into each other at events. I once met him on a flight and he tweeted a picture of us together. Like wine, he had aged beautifully. In fact, he was getting better both as a person and as an actor. The way he modulated his voice, the way he delivered his dialogue, it was incredible. I particularly loved his performances in Kapoor & Sons (2016) and 102 Not Out (2018).

I met him when he returned to India after his cancer treatment in the US. He was up and about. I even visited his house during Ganpati. Those days he was shooting for Sharmaji Namkeen in Delhi. So, I spoke to him over the phone. The next thing I got to know was that things had turned around for him in Delhi.

One morning I got a call informing me of his demise. ‘Oh my God, he’s gone!’ the thought left me shaken. Also, it happened at a time when there were so many restrictions due to the pandemic and one couldn’t pay one’s last respects. But for me, he’s still around. It seems like he’s just gone away somewhere for a while.

Also Read: Why Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan will remain unforgettable

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16 minutes ago
Open marriage.