Remembering Rajiv Kapoor

 In his biography Khullam Khulla, the late Rishi Kapoor credits younger brother Rajiv Kapoor as being the most talented of the three brothers. Rishi reveals Rajiv was a musical genius, as he was expertly able to play the piano without ever having learnt it formally. He also credits Rajiv doing a commendable job as an editor on Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999) which was directed by Rishi and produced by Rajiv. Rishi laments that his younger brother just couldn’t apply himself to any field, otherwise he would have become the number one in any thing he chose. Rishi Kapoor also revealed that their father Raj Kapoor loved Rajiv, or Chimpu as he was affectionately known, the most. He even goes on to say that while their father did make Bobby for him, it was Dimple Kapadia’s film all the way while Ram Teri Ganga Maili was made exclusively to showcase Rajiv.

If that was Raj Kapoor’s intention, it certainly didn’t pay off. One can say the decision boomeranged, as all the viewers took away from the film was the waterfall scene featuring the scantily-clad Mandakini. The multi-layered film, which talked about class divide as well as cleaning up the Ganges is only remembered today because of its skin show.

Rajiv Kapoor was born on August 25, 1962. He was the youngest of Raj Kapoor’s children. Like the rest of the Kapoors, he too was undeniably handsome and as such, was expected to follow his brothers into films. He used to look like a young Shammi Kapoor when he was in his 20s and as such, his roles, films and even his mannerisms were moulded on his uncle. In a later interview, Rajiv lamented about the decision. He felt that he should have been his own man from the start and not let himself be moulded as another Shammi Kapoor. He was convinced things would have turned out differently then. Unlike his elder brothers Randhir Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor, he wasn’t launched by his father.

His debut film Ek Jaan Hain Hum was produced by FC Mehra and directed by Rajiv Mehra. It introduced Rajiv and Divya Rana and is also said to be Anu Malik’s first big film. Songs like Dil lagana tum kya — where his dance steps were reminiscent of Shammi Kapoor’s steps from Teesri Manzil (1966) —  Yaad teri aayegi, Dil dil hai, and Aasman pe likh doon were hits and for a while it felt like a new musical star had dawned despite the film’s below par run at the box office.

 But it wasn’t to be. Ram Teri Ganga Maili was a jubilee hit alright but afterwards, Rajiv’s films like Zabardast (1985), Lover Boy (1985), Preeti (1986), Zalzala (1988), Hum To Chale Pardes (1988) all flopped. Raj Kapoor could have revived his son’s career but after his untimely death in 1988, the zest for acting seemingly left Rajiv. He tried his hands at other things — he directed and edited Prem Granth (1996) — a reworking of Thomas Hardy’s Tess Of The d’Urbervilles and produced Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999). Unfortunately, both films flopped. The latter was the last film produced under the illustrious RK banner.

Rajiv Kapoor

His personal life was said to be tumultuous at best. He was said to be seeing Divya Rana but nothing came off the relationship. He was also reportedly linked to Mandakini, Nagma and even Madhuri Dixit, though he always rubbished those rumours. In 2001, he married Aarti Sabharwal, an architect but the couple got divorced two years later in 2003. He was a Kapoor throughout and never let his lack of commercial success keep him away from romancing life. He was fond of food and drinks and while he didn’t have children of his own, he used to pamper his nieces and nephews. He was said to be especially close to Ranbir Kapoor, and reportedly used to buy expensive watches for him. Rajiv was all set to revive his acting career with Toolsidas Junior, a sports film produced by Ashutosh Gowariker, which co-starred Sanjay Dutt. Unfortunately, death took him away from this mortal plane before that could be realised… 

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