<br>”The first time I went to meet him and told him my story idea, he asked me who else is there in the film. Then he started saying that I should make the film with stars so that it can get better mileage. He wasn't one of those actors who would think about just his character. He would think about how the overall story came out. The more he started explaining why he is not the right choice for the film, the more confident I became to make the film with him! Finally, he was like, ‘theek hai, story suna hi do'. And he loved the story, so he came on board,” Leena told IANS.
According to the director, the actor held the experience of the great Kapoor lineage and at the same time the innocence and mood of a child.
“I like people who are brutally honest; especially in an industry where people are mostly nice to each other for a reason. Rishi ji was a happy, delightful man with so much wisdom and he had the nature of an explorer. He would take a walk in the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk and talk to shopkeepers who have owned shops for say, 50 years. He would eat street food and tell all of us to try the same. He loved his food, loved his fans, loved talking about cinema! When you see Rishi Kapoor, you see passion,” Leena added.
The late actor had an image of being outspoken in public and that intimated many – at least, that was the overall impression. Leena disagrees. “He was moody but never intimidating. That is why he managed to work with all the newcomers in my film. I, as a film director, never see it as a problem if you come and tell me ‘this scene is not going well,' directly. I rather find it easy to have a conversation then, in order to improve!” she said.
By the time the film released, Kapoor was in New York for his cancer treatment. So, he could not join any special screening, including one that took place at BFI London Film Festival.
“We used to send him small video clips of audience reactions and how people are talking about the film, so he was with us virtually through the journey of the film,” Leena recalled.
Asked how she would like to remember him, Leena replied: “He started his career at a point of time when in mainstream ‘natural acting' was almost non-existent. He established that — it was his style. A style that no one can copy because what he brought to the character was of his interpretation, based on his observation. I want to remember that natural actor, with a lot of passion and warmth in person — a happy man!”
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)