'Rajiv was the son I never had': Randhir Kapoor opens his heart

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·Columnist
·7-min read
'Rajiv was the son I never had': Randhir Kapoor opens his heart
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It’s been a turbulent period for the eldest son of Raj Kapoor. The loss of his two dear brothers – Rishi Kapoor on 30 April 2020 and the youngest Rajiv Kapoor on 9 February this year, within just a period of nine months, has left Randhir Kapoor shattered. His brothers were his soulmates, his friends. In fact, the 58-year-old Rajiv was more like a son to the 74-year-old Randhir. The void in his life is irreversible.

The loss of the landmark R.K. Studios built by filmmaker Raj Kapoor in 1948, due to a nasty fire and the subsequent sale of the premises, signals an emotional ‘pack-up’ for Randhir, who’d stalwartly looked after the sanctum after the Showman’s demise. Home-ground of several blockbusters and milestones, the studio was an emblem of Raj Kapoor’s dreams.

More recently, Randhir has moved out of the ancestral R.K. Cottage in Chembur to a swanky apartment in Bandra. But he carries along the heirloom of memories bequeathed by R.K Studios and their years in Chembur. Much like the manner in which the RK Films banner continues to hold the place of pride in the chronicles of Hindi cinema and in public recall.

The lines from Randhir Kapoor’s directorial Dharam Karam (1975)…

“Ikk din bik jaayega maati ke mol

Jag mein reh jaayege pyaare tere bol…”

… sums up the universal truth of mortal men and immortal memories…

IN RANDHIR KAPOOR’S OWN WORDS…

“The past year has been tragic. This has been the saddest period of our lives – losing two brothers (the late Rishi Kapoor and Rajiv Kapoor) within a period of nine months. We’ve always remained a close knit family contrary to whatever maybe the general perception. We brothers were also best friends. We didn’t necessarily have to go out and meet anyone. We were happy amongst ourselves. We would drink, we would fight, we would make-up. We attended office together.

I am finding it difficult to come to terms with life. As though my two hands are gone. The dominant fear was that anything could happen to my brother Rishi. After all, he was suffering from cancer. We visited him turn by turn, when he was being treated in America. But no one imagined that Rajiv would pass away so soon.

Rajiv and I lived together in our Chembur bungalow. I feel particularly sad for him as he didn’t achieve much success. Though his Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) was a blockbuster. 

Rajiv had an unfortunate marriage (the late actor was married to Aarti Sabharwal in 2001), which lasted for only for two months. He had many unfortunate episodes in his life, which led him astray. There was deep frustration, which caused him to neglect his professional life. His life missed a swing. Ironically, he was the most talented of the Kapoors. He even directed a film (Prem Granth 1996), which sadly failed.

Why Rajiv didn't marry again? Well, you can’t force anyone to get married. You can only advice a person to a point. He was grown up enough to decide for himself. He had a lot of girlfriends. But he never felt the desire to marry again. Basically, he got disheartened. He took to drinking big time. In fact, I feared that if anything disastrous were to happen to Rajiv, it would be because of alcohol. But I never expected him to die the way he did.

I met Rajiv at 2 am that night. I’d returned home at 1.30 am. The light was on in his room. He was drinking. I told him, “Stop drinking! Have your dinner and go to sleep.” That was my last conversation with him. My nurse woke me up the next morning to inform that Rajiv was not responding and his pulse was falling. Immediately, we took him to the hospital. Within an hour he was no more.

Rajiv was extremely happy about doing Toolsidas Junior (Ashutosh Gowariker’s sports drama). I told him, “Behave yourself and don’t drink during the period you’re shooting.” He didn’t touch alcohol during the entire spell. He was excited that he’d now be getting good character roles. But he was an ass – he couldn’t see it release! Magar woh jahan kahan hoga… he will be happy to see himself on screen.

Rajiv was a son I never had. It’s genuinely a huge loss for me. I remember him as a great guy, extremely talented, a loyal friend and brother. I will miss him forever.

Another thing that caused me deep pain was losing R.K.Studios (a major fire broke out at RK Studios in Chembur in September 2017. It was sold to Godrej Properties Ltd. in 2019). It was gutted and it didn’t seem worthwhile to restore it. 

Moreover, with the traffic in the area and the metro line coming up, the film industry preferred to shoot at Film City, Goregaon. No one was coming to RK any longer. To pool in 100 crores to put it together again didn’t make sense. It wasn’t financially viable. It would have put the whole family in jeopardy. People remarked that R. K Studios held ‘emotional value’. But these are foolish arguments. I guess, it was destined. 

I don’t have any memorabilia left of Raj Kapoor. I'd preserved every photograph, every costume from Aag (1948) to Aa Ab Laut Chalein (1999). They were properly hangered and preserved. But we lost everything. I don’t even have a single award of Raj Kapoor. Nor a single photograph of his youth. Thousands of posters and photographs were kept in the publicity department… all were destroyed in the fire.

Looking back, Mera Naam Joker (1970) had left Raj Kapoor disheartened. It flopped and we suffered huge losses. But today after 50 years, it’s our biggest profit point online. I keep selling it year by year. I tell God, ‘Please tell dad Mera Naam Joker is doing so well’. Raj Kapoor was a one-man circus. He did everything himself. 

His films had a social message. There was no violence, no police in his film. Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960) was a dacoit film. It had 11 songs but not a single fight sequence. I still receive mails regarding Rajji’s films. I am invited to speak on his cinema in acting schools as far as America. Raj Kapoor’s a legend and he’s eternal.

I am selling our Chembur house. I have moved to Bandra where my daughters (Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan) are, where my friends are. I’d thought I’d die in Chembur working in RK. But destiny willed otherwise. I do feel about sad leaving Chembur. My staff couldn’t help remark, “Saab aap Chembur chodh kar jaa rahe ho?”

After all, we Kapoors have cried there; we have laughed there. We deeply value family bonds. I miss Shammi (Kapoor) uncle, I miss Shashi (Kapoor) uncle equally. They were my friends. They’d ask me, “Who’s your latest girlfriend?” Till date, we celebrate Christmas at Shashiji’s home because of Jennifer (Kapoor) aunty. 

We spent such joyful days in Chembur – we welcomed Holi and Ganesh Chaturthi with such enthusiasm. But later hooligans started getting in. So, we had to discontinue that. Also, the traffic made things difficult.

Now, I live in a beautiful house in Bandra. We all live well. We eat well. Thanks to the blessings of God and our parents. I have two loving daughters. They have been extremely supportive. They take care for me. They insisted I have a permanent nurse around me. (Smiles) Though I said it’s foolish to spend so much!

No one can understand life. No one can predict what happens tomorrow. Aadmi ko waqt or haalaat se sula karni padti hai (you have to make peace with time and circumstance). We’ve been blessed with a good life all through. It’s only now that we’ve had to endure these heartbreaks.

But I believe in staying stay positive. I may still make a RK film. The audiences have been faithful to us. That love is being carrying forward towards our children. We believe in His will. Uski kripa hum par hamesha rahe. May He give us strength to tide this period of loss. As they say ‘Allah bada badshah hai’! Uparwale ko jo manzoor! A big thankyou to all our fans.

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