While it's fashionable to whine about nepotism, star quality is an undefinable trait that exists. Some people have it, some don't. It's like writing or singing, sure it can be honed by hard work, but not without the rough core. If the quality of the coal isn’t good, it won’t become a diamond.
Rishi Kapoor had it. Ranbir has it. Amitabh has it, but Abhishek didn’t inherit it.
It’s strange, but it doesn’t always permeate to the next generation. For example, Rahul Gandhi clearly lacks the panache that his grandmother had in dollops and that his father lost.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday remembered Rishi Kapoor as a wonderful actor, while noting that it has been a terrible week for Indian cinema with the passing away of another legend.
Kapoor, who was suffering from cancer, died in a Mumbai hospital. The death of the veteran actor comes a day after versatile actor Irrfan Khan died in Mumbai.
In a tweet, Gandhi said, "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. My condolences to his family, friends and fans all over the world, at this time of grief."
Interestingly, Kapoor had – in his true politically incorrect style – something far less kind to say about the Gandhis when he was alive.
In 2016, in a series of tweets, he voiced the angst of the common man and wondered why everything was named after the Gandhis.
He had written: “Change Gandhi family assets named by Congress.Bandra/Worli Sea Link to Lata Mangeshkar or JRD Tata link road. Baap ka maal samjh rakha tha?”
To put in context, there are 450 different schemes, projects, institutions named after the Nehru-Gandhi family. 12 Central and 52 state schemes, 28 sports tournaments and trophies, 19 stadiums, 5 airports and ports, 98 education institutions, 51 awards, 15 fellowships, 15 national sanctuaries and parks, 39 hospitals, 37 institutions and 74 roads, buildings and places named after 3 members of the Nehru-Gandhi family!
This wasn’t the only time Kapoor launched a tirade against the Gandhis.
In 2017, when Rahul Gandhi was at the University of California, Berkley he had defended his ‘dynast tag by saying: “Akhilesh Yadav is a dynast, Mr Stalin (DMK supremo M Karunanidhi’s son) is a dynast, Mr (Prem Kumar) Dhumal’s son (Anurag Thakur of the BJP) is a dynast. Even Mr Abhishek Bachchan is a dynast, also Mr Ambani.”
This led to a sharp rebuke from Rishi Kapoor, who felt it was a dig.
He wrote: “Rahul Gandhi. In the 106 years of Indian cinema of India, Kapoor's contribution is 90 years. And each generation is chosen by public on merit.”
To be fair, Rishi Kapoor was honest in his assessment. Not all Kapoors became stars. Prithviraj was a huge presence. Raj and Shammi were top stars. Shashi wasn’t as big but became famous by dint of his long career. Randhir couldn’t become as big as Rishi.
Anil Kapoor too became a big star, his brother Sanjay not so much. In the later generations, it was Ranbir, Kareena and Karishma who become big box office draws. Just like politics, the audience chooses which dynast to love.