Rishi Kapoor wasn’t the most successful actor of his generation. In fact, his career fluctuated between the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. But the one thing that remained a constant in pretty much every movie he starred in was fantastic music.
Known for playing the romantic hero, who sings and dances his way into not only women’s hearts, but also the hearts of their objecting parents, Rishi Kapoor began his career with the musical smash hit Bobby in 1973, and continued his musical journey for decades.
Today, as India mourns the loss of its favourite baby-faced chocolate-boy lover, here is a look at some of his greatest and most iconic songs in a career that spanned almost five decades.
Main Shaayar Toh Nahin (Bobby, 1973): The teen romance that marked the debuts of both Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia was a smash hit that set the trend for Bollywood stories of young lovers who face parental objection. And its success was thanks in no small part to its stellar soundtrack courtesy Laxmikant Pyarelal. While there are many songs one could choose from this movie, Shailendra’s voice and Anand Bakshi’s lyrics come together beautifully in Main Shaayar Toh Nahin. The song also featured, decades later, in Hum Tum (2004), in which Rishi Kapoor played Saif Ali Khan’s father.
Parda Hai Parda (Amar Akbar Anthony, 1977): Manmohan Desai’s madcap masala film starring Rishi Kapoor opposite Neetu Singh, along with Amitabh Bachchan, Parveen Babi, Vinod Khanna and Shabana Azmi, is a hilarious take on the age-old lost-and-found-brothers theme that comes with a hefty dose of communal harmony and absolutely no logic. Rishi Kapoor plays Akbar, a qawwal whose relationship with Salma (Neetu) earns him the disapproval of her father. But the energetic, enthusiastic Akbar isn’t too concerned, because he knows everyone will love him eventually.
Chandni O Meri Chandni (Chandni, 1989): Rishi Kapoor’s pet theme parental objection to young love continued with Chandni, the movie that gave him a much-needed hit and introduced us to the quintessential Yash Chopra romance, all chiffon saris and snowy mountains and gorgeous songs. Sridevi sang the title song, along with Jolly Mukherjee, and it is a heady frothy, happy toast to being in love.
Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karenge (Khel Khel Mein, 1975): Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle sang this brash ode to love. The movie was a thriller that starred Rishi Kapoor along with his future wife, Neetu Singh. Decades later, Rishi Kapoor’s autobiography would be titled Khullam Khulla.
Dard e Dil (Karz, 1980): Subhash Ghai’s tale of revenge and reincarnation is now considered a cult classic, but it wasn’t a huge hit upon its release. However, its soundtrack, which included Om Shanti Om and Ek Haseena Thi, was madly successful, setting the trend for disco music and garnering multiple Filmfare Award nominations — Laxmikant-Pyarelal won Best Music Director. While most of the songs were sung by Kishore Kumar, Dard e Dil had the voice of Mohd Rafi.