Rishi Kapoor helped me get validation and more work in the industry: Gulshan Grover

08/05/2020

Gulshan Grover has made a mark in Bollywood with his sheer hard work and choices of films. Today, he is a name to reckon with in the industry and he credits a major part of it to his friend and big brother Rishi Kapoor.
In an interview, Gulshan Grover opened up about the bond he shared with Rishi Kapoor, his memories and how it is a terrible loss for Bollywood. Excerpts from the interview...
How are you coping with the sad demise of Rishi Kapoor?
The news of Rishi Kapoor’s demise has been shocking. He was a fantastic actor and a great human being. At such a time when people all over the world are so concerned and low, getting the news of first Irrfan and then Rishi’s demise has been very difficult and shocking to cope with. I have been a younger friend to Rishi ji. It is like a personal loss for me.
You have worked with him in many films and were also close to him. How was he as an actor and as a person?
I worked with him when I was new in the industry. I did a film titled, ‘Hawalaat’ which starred Rishi Kapoor along with Mithun Chakraborty and Shatrughan Sinha. I knew Mithun Chakraborty from my acting institute days where he was our teacher. He used to teach us acting and a subject called, ‘Movement’ where we had to express music without dancing through our expressions and without any words. I did not know Rishi Kapoor at all. I was quite intimidated.
However, after having seen me during the shooting and afterwards, he came out and started praising me in front of everybody by saying that I am very hard working. He helped me get validation in the industry and eventually more work. From there, I went on to do many films, all thanks to him. He was always very warm and affectionate towards me. He also helped me and guided me through my journey. I was an outsider, I did not belong to this industry. I was a commoner. He made me feel at home.
Once we were shooting at the Vaishno Devi temple. We were just about to go for darshan and it was very cold. I was wearing a normal kurta pyjama. He offered me one of his very expensive shawls. He gave it to me and asked me to wrap it around. I had a special bond with him, a special friendship.
When I was doing India’s first web feature film called, ‘Bad Man’, the producers suggested me to ask Rishi Kapoor if he will play a special cameo in the movie where he will be himself. They did not have the budget to get him onboard so they asked me to ask him. I called him up and went to meet him. I asked him about the film and he told me to ask the director Soumik Sen to meet him. Later, they both called me up to say that Rishi ji will be doing the part and that too without charging anything. And he shot for it the next day itself in a studio.
We have met up at various social occasions too where he has been like my elder brother. I could talk to him, discuss things with him and rest assured that I will not be judged. Whenever I asked him for a favour, he never said no to me.
When I was about to release my autobiography in US in front of the media, I was asked to get Rishi ji to come for it as people there loved him and it would have gave me and my book more weightage.
When I hesitantly asked Rishi ji, he replied by saying that although I have been advised not to go to public places, but for you my friend and I will do it. However, on the day of the event, he messaged me saying he has been called to the hospital for a blood transfusion. And he added that he doesn’t know when they will leave him and what condition he will be after the process. My heart sank as I had promised everybody and it was all over the media. He told me not to worry and that he shall be there.
t the event, everybody came but there was no sign of Rishi Kapoor. Anupam Kher and others who were present at the do suggested that we start the event. However, I was adamant that he promised me and that he will come because he has never let me down. Rishi ji tried my phone but couldn’t reach me so he informed a journalist that he is on his way and he will be there. He jumped in to a cab right outside the hospital and he put on his jacket and came in for the event. He was that wonderful reliable person. I have had the pleasure of spending so many wonderful and pleasant evenings be it awards events or social occasions or private functions. I really miss him. From outside he is like a brat but once you know him, you cannot help but fall in love with him. He was such a wonderful actor. He set benchmarks for all of us.
From being one of the most romantic heroes to donning the role of a gangster, he aced it all. Once while giving away an award to him, I jokingly asked him not to take away my job.
Were you in touch with Rishi ji as he was critically ill during his last times?
Yes, I was in touch with him through whatsapp messages. Lately, this pressure of coronavirus and the lockdown has consumed everybody. Everybody had gone into shell but I have been in touch with him.

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