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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Back To Back Star Tragedies: Rishi Kapoor Dies in Mumbai

April 29, 2020, morning: Irrfan Khan, an actor of incredible talent and in his prime dies in a Mumbai hospital.
April 30, 2020, morning: Rishi Kapoor, veteran actor and a hugely popular romantic hero since the seventies, dies in a Mumbai hospital.
Both of them contracted cancer about two years back: Irrfan had a rare form of endocrine cancer while Rishi had leukemia.
Different styles, but both relatable: Rishi Kapoor was not the next-door boy like Irrfan, he belonged to the most famous Hindi film family—the Kapoors—while Irrfan had a humble beginning; of course, both rose to the pinnacle of success doing different kinds of roles and with different styles; however, both connected with the masses instantly.
Both had still something to offer: At 53 Irrfan’s potential for more and more realistic and serious cinema was ruthlessly cut short while at 67 Rishi was steadily graduating to serious character roles with admirable ease and skill, and his tragic demise can still be called premature.

Two of the biggest celebrity deaths in India in two days; this is as unprecedented as perhaps the times we are going through. Before the boxed-up and suffocated film fraternity and the larger film lovers had time to recover from one the other cruel blow was applied immediately. Is this the impact of the COVID times? Well, we should not try going deeper into it, because these two off-screen tear-jerkers would further accentuate the anguish and helplessness of the Indian people, haunted by the killer virus and the lockdown.

His father, the iconic Raj Kapoor, launched his son Rishi Kapoor in 1973 in the jubilee hit movie, ‘Bobby’ before which Rishi made his film debut with a small role in ‘Mera Naan Joker’ (1970) where Raj Kapoor played the title character. Rishi was immediately accepted by the masses as a lovely and handsome young hero in spite of his boyish looks, and since 1974 he never looked back, performing in numerous commercial ventures and giving regular hits. In fact, both of his starting films had given him awards: National Film Award for Best Child Artiste in ‘Mera Naam Joker’ and Filmfare Best Actor Award for his first lead role against Dimple Kapadia for ‘Bobby’ in 1974. He was honored with Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. From 1973 to 2000 Rishi Kapoor played romantic lead roles in 92 films; married his co-star Neetu Singh in 1980 and appeared against her in 12 movies between 1973 and 1981. After 2000, Rishi started looking at character roles and earned several Filmfare awards for his roles in several films. Notable among them are ‘Yeh Hai Jalwa’ (2002), ‘Namastey London’ (2007), Love Aaj Kal (2009), Patiala House (2010), ‘Kapoor & Sons’ (2017), and there was an onscreen reunion with his wife in the film ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ (2010).  His last movie to be released (December 2019) was ‘The Body’, a mystery thriller with Emraan Hashmi. His most memorable film in a realistic character role was ‘Mulk’ (2018), directed by Anubhav Sinha.

Popularly known as ‘Chintu’, Rish Kapoor had an immense impact on us as school children from the early seventies. Our craze for him increased further due to a rather funny reason: our parents did not allow us to watch ‘Mera Naam Joker’ and ‘Bobby’ as both of the films allegedly had some ‘adult’ scenes, and our hunger was only abetted when mother decided to narrate the stories to us in dramatic fashion! Of course, in later years we began watching his movies in the cinema houses and started loving him for his looks, for his smiles, and for his comedy or romanticism or heroism. Like his uncle Shashi Kapoor, Rishi also seemed to have a positive aura or vibes in his looks and personality that made him likeable to us instantly.

The film industry and the film lovers believed, as per the news in circulation that Rishi Kapoor was getting well and better, after his prolonged medical treatment in the US. But sadly, that came to be untrue. He was hospitalized due to some complications and departed as if on a mission. 

His family stood behind him all the time and released a press brief that Rishi Kapoor has always been a jolly and positive person never allowing situations get the better of him, and did not even allow cancer disturb him—living his life cheerfully, for his family, fans and friends. Therefore, the family appealed to all to receive the news with a smile and not with tears as Rishi would prefer it that way. Yes, we look at him smiling, remembering all the decades of his endearing performances and knowing it very well that he is bound to influence our hearts forever; incredible it sounds, we only said this the previous day for Irrfan. Rishi Kapoor leaves behind his wife actor Neetu Singh, and mega-star son Ranbir Kapoor—one of the finest actors in the younger generation. We pray for the eternal bliss and happiness of the lovable super-star and a super human being. Filmography!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Irrfan Khan Dies in Mumbai: Huge Tragedy in the Time of Coronavirus

Irrfan Khan, a powerhouse of incredible acting talent, passed away in a Mumbai hospital today morning leaving a vacuum in the Hindi film industry, a loss irreparable. He was only 53, and had so much to offer to the film lovers yet.  There was disturbing news circulating in 2018 about Irrfan contracting a serious disease which, after months of distressed speculation, was confirmed as neuro-endocrine tumor, one of the rarest forms of cancer. Since then he was fighting, fighting and fighting. He got treatment in the US and then in London for months. He returned to India a few months back, and could not take part in the promotion of his last movie, Angrezi (English) Medium, and the movie too could not be released due to the nation-wide lockdown. More saddening, he lost his mother only a few days back and could not attend her last rites in Jaipur, again due to the lockdown. Irrfan’s demise is a huge tragedy to strike when the country is reeling under Coronavirus and lockdown.

The highlight of his 32-year career in the film industry was the incredibly varied roles and characters he played in Bollywood movies, and also in Hollywood and British productions. Keeping in mind the versatility of his acting prowess roles were written for him that can be compared only to that of Amitabh Bachchan in the latter's post-2000 career; the ultimate crowning glory for an actor. And most importantly, Irrfan Khan was never a modern hero of Bollywood in terms of the desired attributes: handsome, tall, powerfully built with preferably body-building obsession, fighting and dancing abilities and so on. He never danced around the trees chasing the heroines. And yet, he played hero, protagonists in numerous movies—both mainstream and commercial, endearing himself to all types of moviegoers of the country. He did every kind of role, living the characters, with his typical matter-of-fact acting and a unique casual style of dialogue delivery.

Irrfan with Tabu for The Namesake
Irrfan Khan started his career in 1988 with a small role in the highly acclaimed ‘Salaam Bombay’ and after that had years of struggle trying to establish himself through various roles in mostly off-beat films. The final recognition as an exceptionally talented actor came with his two films, ‘Haasil’ (2003) for which he got the Filmfare Award for Best Actor in a negative role and the internationally acclaimed ‘Maqbool’ (2004). He never looked back since then.  One outstanding film that comes to the mind is ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ (2011) in which he played the title character and won the National Award for Best Actor. It was followed by stupendously realistic movies like ‘Lunch Box’ (2013), ‘Piku’ (2015) and ‘Talvar’ (2015), and also Hollywood movies, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ (2012), ‘Life of Pi’ (2012), ‘Jurassic World’ (2015) and ‘Inferno’ (2016). His comedy-drama ‘Hindi Medium’ (2017) became the highest grossing movie of his career giving him another Filmfare Award for Best Actor, and the release of the sequel ‘Angrezi Medium’, Irrfan’s last performance, had to be postponed as we mentioned earlier. Although Irrfan mostly played serious intense characters his comic timing was also established in movies like ‘Piku’ and ‘Hindi Medium’. He was awarded ‘Padma Shri’, India’s fourth-highest civilian honor, in 2011.

During the last two years not many of his movies were running in the theaters which makes our hearts cry now, for missing his powerful screen portrayals; however, as a consolation, his lovable movies like ‘Billu’ (2009), ‘The Lunchbox’, ‘Hindi Medium’, ‘Piku’, ‘Talvar’, ‘Jazbaa’ (2015) and so on were being constantly shown across the small screens of the movie channels. In his personal life he was a devout loving husband and a caring father, leaving behind his co-actor wife and two sons.

As the film fraternity of India and international admirers shower an unending stream of messages of shock, anguish and condolences we deeply mourn Irrfan Khan’s untimely demise and pray for the eternal bliss of his soul. One of the finest actors of all time, Irrfan Khan will live on in our hearts, forever. His painful struggle hoping against hope symbolizes what planet earth is going through at this moment—uncertainty looming large over every field of activity including the film industry all over the globe. Filmography:

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Stay-Home Vs Retirement!

Retirement from a job or service acquires a new COVID-19 significance if you had retired at the end of last year, like this writer. Superannuation or retirement@60 normally signifies that you had had enough toil and turmoil in offices and now you deserve to relax at home which basically translates to stay home. Normally you don’t smell a rat in being told about staying at home; but when people around you start reacting to your out-of-job status you find that they react in the same—rather abominable—manner.  They say, ‘so, you’re retired…you’ll now be sitting at home! Relax and enjoy!’ Now, you see the difference between stay at home and sitting at home, the latter being a ‘looked down upon thing’ rather. You really get dismayed when some of your dear relatives and even your dearest spouse also react in a similar way. Particularly your spouse who has been so much used to your going-to-office every morning without fail that s/he may start getting irritated or finding faults eternally with your sitting-at-home incarnation. You may still get on with your normal activities as earlier, that of marketing, kitchen-assistance and having occasional outings; but the ‘sitting at home’ stigma doesn’t go away. There is a meaning why I’m using the word ‘stigma’. Of course, my intelligent readers must have guessed the ‘significance’ already.

A bit unnerved by the ‘stigma’ you might as well try giving a good fight against: that you are a writer or painter or musician or a professional and so your work would continue or that you explain to them the beauty of the majestic saying ‘you retire from a job only, not from life and work.’ Unfortunately, neither of these would hold water with any of the people or spouse; because whatever be the scenario you’ll perform that from ‘sitting at home’ only.

Your nervous bearings get further hit by the general belief that retired people are mostly useless and spent, and are hardly sought after by anybody except perhaps the life insurance companies. The combination of such ‘forces’ makes a retired soul desperate; they get the feeling that they are unemployed again, and unwanted and so, they try searching for new jobs or engagements. Some of them, fortunately, do find opportunities and accept those gratefully—not because they find those exciting and lovable, but only because of the overpowering urge to avoid ‘sitting at home’. However, they feel very satisfied with one discovery: experience, if not skills, is still valued by some in the society.  

Spread of the new Coronavirus or the COVID-19 pandemic has somewhat merged the distinction between ‘stay home’ and ‘sitting at home’, because suddenly everyone, from the busiest professionals to the most gratefully retired the world over, have begun staying at home, and most of them would contest the ‘sitting at home’ syndrome with the stout defense of ‘working from home’ which, in a way, has come as a huge relief for the retired-working. Their stigma gets negated by a disease which was also being considered a stigma; that particular word finally getting neutralized in both cases.

The biggest crisis ever for humankind has taught us the significance and the beauty of ‘home’: where you stay safe and happy always, and from where you can work as well, or perhaps even better than from offices thanks to the state-of-the-art connectivity and the coming of the whole world into a cohesive single unit. More changes in the way we behave or think are bound to come by the time the crisis finally exits, maybe over the next few months or years. For now, people over 60 years of age are specifically advised to stay home irrespective of whether they sit there or work from there. Conclude with a disclaimer: there has been no generalization of the retired people referred to here.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Locks Down…!

Husband: Looks like the lockdown is not going to be lifted soon. Of course, some curbs are being eased in the green zones, but in red zones no relaxation in near future. We’re boxed in for a much longer time…

Wife: Rightly so, the government’s doing very right. No risks need to be taken at this crucial time. The lockdown has yielded a lot of benefits…the spread is checked, contained. It should be extended as long as it’s required. 

Husband: I fully agree with you. We’re staying at home, taking all precautions and keeping ourselves safe. However, there are problems too…an extension may really accentuate these problems. About the economy we’re helpless, but consider my problem, it’s, sort of, getting longer and longer! 

Wife: Don’t complain. We’re much better off than many other unfortunate people, families, and countries. And hark; never expect human life to be the same after this. Don’t ever think of rushing back to your old ways…dining in restaurants, having parties, shopping in malls, visiting the movie houses and eating, working in congested offices, riding in overcrowded trains, buses and airplanes…and all that. 

 Husband: Yes, I perfectly understand that too. But fact is my problem remains. You see, some elements in our bodies do not possess a rational mind, and just go on like business-as-usual! There has to be a solution for such issues…

Wife: You’re not the only one facing this problem, you know. Solutions will come in due course, as is the way of life on this planet…

Husband: But when? There is easing of restrictions as I said…but for my kind of problems no hope at all…even in the green zones! Especially because, social distancing will be impossible to maintain…with the concerned professional inevitably breathing all over you from all possible angles!

Wife: (Silent)

Husband: Hey…why don’t you try? For me it’s difficult to operate on myself, but you can do it…with some intelligence and observation…I’m really scared, you must understand. They are coming down and down…with ominous progression! Very soon, my ears will be fully engulfed! 

Wife:  No way! I just have no experience in this line. Besides, I need you go out occasionally to bring in the essentials. I mean, you need to look presentable for that…

Husband: Ha! Ha! Trust me I have full trust on your skills. Anyway, you said earlier that I’m not alone in this. Yes! That’s the point! There are so many others like me…waiting for an opportunity to get it over with. Means there is tremendous demand and it’s growing all the time. See what I imply?

Wife: Not really! You know what…you’re getting a bit overawed with you problem. It’s not at all a life threatening problem and can wait. Of course, I sympathize with you! It’s very clumsy and uncomfortable considering the constantly rising temperatures…

Husband: Thank you, dear, for supporting me at least once. Okay, let me tell you about the point I wanted to make. With such kind of heavy and ever rising demand the fertile brains—the smart marketers—must take cue from this. They must start rapid online hair-cutting training courses! The moment they start I’ll get you enrolled, and be your first victim...sorry...first practical! I assure you; I’ll have full faith on you and bear with all the margins of error…!

Wife: (Smiles)

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