Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan in a still from the movie D-Day
Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan in a still from the movie D-Day

Two well-known Bollywood actors dying within a day of each other, and both from cancer, might be one of those coincidences which are the staple of our movies. But in the passing of Irrfan Khan, 53, and Rishi Kapoor, 67, the film world has lost two very accomplished performers.

Irrfan was a bundle of talent, Rishi carried great film pedigree on his shoulders, essaying chocolate-boy roles early in his career before graduating to mature roles. Irrfan was an unlikely hero, who had oodles of talent but not the traditional good looks that Bollywood had hitherto preferred in its leading men. It says something of the changing cine tastes that this graduate from the National School of Drama managed to make a niche for himself in Bollywood within a short time on purely the strength of his histrionic talent. Though he never succeeded as a solo hero in out-and-out commercial cinema, yet thanks to the new wave of directors who plugged meaningful stories, and told them with an art-house sincerity, Irrfan became the darling of fans who loved ‘new’, purposeful cinema. His outstanding performances in films like Maqbool, Paan Singh Tomar, Piku, etc, earned him accolades. His passing away at a relatively young age is doubly shocking.

Like Irrfan, Rishi too was laid down by cancer, having undergone treatment in the US two years ago, before returning home. Till very recently, he remained cheerful, interacting with the world on social media and never afraid to speak his mind on matters of public concern. Launched by his father, the legendary Raj Kapoor, Rishi soon carved a place for himself, first as a solo hero in romantic roles and later in parallel roles to the lead actor in a number of block-busters. Rishi and Neetu Singh made a successful lead pair on the silver screen before their marriage. Now it is their son, Ranbir, who carries the vaunted Kapoor Khandan heritage, on his shoulders.

Millions of fans in the film-crazy country mourn along with Bollywood at the passing away of Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor.

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Free Press Journal