Rajiv Kapoor, youngest son of Raj Kapoor, passes away

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Rajiv Kapoor, a 2017 photograph. Photo: SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP

More than three decades after he was last seen on the silver screen, Rajiv Kapoor was all set to make a comeback with Ashutosh Gowariker’s Toolsidas. The comeback has been nipped in the bud with the actor breathing his last following a heart attack earlier this morning. He was 58.

Starting his innings with Ek Jaan Hain Hum opposite Divya Rana in 1983, Rajiv Kapoor never quite reached the dizzy heights of popularity of his brother Rishi Kapoor, or his father Raj Kapoor. Unlike Rishi Kapoor’s Bobby, Ek Jaan Hain Hum failed to draw cinegoers to cinema halls. Success, though, was merely delayed, not denied for Rajiv. A couple of years later, he starred in Ram Teri Ganga Maili, co-starring Mandakini. The Raj Kapoor-special proved a blockbuster. Though many people saw the movie because of the obvious charms of Mandakini, Rajiv, too, was able to build more than a nodding acquaintance with cinegoers. The film washed away some of the pain of the first flop but failed to confer lasting stardom on both Mandakini and Rajiv Kapoor. Films like Shukriyaa, Lover Boy and Zalzala came and went with barely a whimper. Along the way, he played second fiddle to Sunny Deol in director Nasir Hussain’s Zabardast. Similarly, he settled for a small part in K. Raghavendra Rao’s Mera Saathi, starring Jeetendra and Jayaprada.

Not one to give up without trying, Rajiv Kapoor rejoined forces with Mandakini, hoping to whip up the magic of Ram Teri Ganga Maili all over again. However, Hum to Chale Pardes failed to get anything more than fleeting attention at the box office. And Rajiv, who resembled his brother Rishi, realised the audiences were not ready to accept Rishi Kapoor Junior when the senior was very much around. Like Rishi Kapoor, he had chocolate boy looks, which effectively ruled him out of masala action films that were in vogue in the 1980s. And for romantic leads, his brother had already carved out his own niche.

With limited quality fare coming his way, Rajiv Kapoor focussed instead on producing and directing films. And, initially, seemed to make a good fist of it. He produced Henna, starring Pakistani actor Zeba Bakhtiar. The film, directed by his elder brother, Randhir Kapoor, was a box office success. And Rajiv Kapoor seemed to be a lucky charm for RK Films, having been associated with both Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Henna. Happy with the outcome of his first production, he then launched Aa Ab Laut Chalein, directed by his other brother Rishi Kapoor. The results were not the same. And Rajiv Kapoor, who had also tried his hand at direction with Prem Granth, a Rishi Kapoor-Madhuri Dixit romance, retreated from cinema almost completely.

Last seen as a hero in Zimmedar in 1990, Rajiv Kapoor was a rare man in the film industry who preferred to keep a low profile. Media-shy, he had the shortest innings in the industry among all the Kapoors. While his father was widely regarded as the ultimate showman, his uncle Shammi Kapoor, and Shashi Kapoor had long and hugely rewarding innings as romantic heroes. Similarly, his brother Rishi Kapoor and, to a lesser extent, Randhir Kapoor, had their legion of fans and the former was active until his death last year. Even his nieces Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor were tremendously popular with mainstream cinegoers. Rajiv Kapoor, though, was not short of admirers with Lata Mangeshkar remembering him as a talented actor in her tweet after his demise following a massive heart attack in Mumbai.

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