56, Pali Hill
From ‘97 to 2007 I lived in an apartment in Daffodils, at Pali Hill, Bandra. Pali Hill has undulating slopes and so housing societies are at different levels from each other. However, that was not the big deal. What I realised soon after moving in, was that it shared a common wall with Rishi Kapoor’s bungalow and one of my rooms looked directly into his living room.
I would come home late every night from my ad agency and see Rishi on his favourite chair, bathed in the glow of the TV nursing his favourite drink. Sometimes, I would pour myself one and in the darkness raise my glass silently to him. There were times when the actor would find great excitement in some scene and spontaneously yell out. And I would smile at this great man, so completely engrossed and so totally unaware of my presence, as we sipped silently into the beautiful Bandra night. There were also times when Neetu Singh would enter the room, and from whatever I could gather, would try and cajole him to call it a night. But he would have none of it, so in love was he with the movies. His one-man-show would go on every night at ‘Krishna Raj’ (he had named his home after his parents). Joyous exclamations punctuated with some colourful language would ring out, and his lights would continue to be on long after I turned in.
In the mornings Neetu Singh would be visible in her tracks, briskly and purposefully taking rounds on her lawn, while I could visualise Rishi baba peacefully lolling in bed with a smile on his face. Not once did I see him involved in any semblance of exercise, but during Holi celebrations that continued from RK Studios, he was the most enthusiastic one, as he gleefully doused his extended family during those legendary garden parties.
Of course I admire Rishi Kapoor the actor and have been especially enthralled by performances in his second innings as the older man. Just last week I watched ‘Do Dooni Chaar’. Again. And I marvelled at the ease and liquidity with which this artiste could transform himself into any character. He is a an acting colossus. A genius from the time when acting was more about the face and heart and less about brawn and muscle.
However, what I remember clearly and with a tinge of emotion, is Rishi Kapoor my neighbour. Spontaneous, large-hearted, genuine, always living his life as an open book. Jumping up in his living room and almost overturning his glass as he joined in on a scene playing out in front of him. Those years were beautiful years, and all seemed well. Those nights when I silently raised my glass to him across the window are like fun-spots in my heart. But now, the world seems to be suddenly changing. And just when we need people like Rishi to remind us to be spontaneous and brave, he is gone.
(The author has worked with Rediffusion, Dentsu and RK Swamy BBDO in the past and is currently running Rain 7.)
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