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Legends Never Die: Irrfan and Rishi Kapoor, a tribute

  • Jatin Kumar | Updated: May 6, 2020, 10:10 a.m.

Since its beginning, 2020 has been a year of bad and disastrous events. Two such events took place few days ago when two of the legendary actors of the era, Irrfan and Rishi Kapoor left us for their heavenly abode on the respective mornings of 29th and 30th April.


On the morning of 29th April, when the news of the demise of Irrfan Khan due to neuroendocrine tumour came forward, the entire nation went into a wave of disbelief and shock. No one was ready for such an early loss of such a gem and the day was already being called a black day for Bollywood. Within less than 24 hours of time, when the nation was still in grief, came the news of departure of our Chintu Ji, Rishi Kapoor, who had finally taken rest from his battle with leukaemia and has left all of us. Bollywood, the universe of Indian cinema has seen a plethora of talent since its start, many of which rise to become stars and superstars. But some of talents are beyond the best we can imagine, such talent eventually become the legends of the industry.

Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor were two such names who were legendries in their field of work and proved their excellence with every work they performed. No amount of words can ever be enough to describe the talent both of them possessed and how it has inspired many of the stars of the present generation. Through this article, let’s take a glimpse at the life of the two of the legends who may have left us physically but will keep living with us forever.

A tribute to Irrfan, a man who made simplicity his signature

Our dearest Irrfan, a.k.a. Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan was born on 7th of January in the year of 1967 in the Tonk district of Rajasthan. His parents ran a tyre business and he did not have a financially rich background. In his younger days he was good in cricket and had also got a chance to represent his state in the under 23 categories of CK Nayudu Trophy, but unfortunately, he was not able to attend the same because he was not able to afford the travel expenses. Later, he started taking interest in theatre acting under the influence of his maternal uncle, who himself was a theatre artist in Jodhpur. To further explore his interest in the field of acting, he joined National School of Drama in 1984 after completing his MA.He was a real big fan of veteran superstar Rajesh Khanna and always saw him as an inspiration. So, to pursue his career in acting he came to Mumbai, but to survive in the city, initially he worked as an AC mechanic. He got his break in Bollywood with a minor role of a letter writer in Mira Nair’s “Salaam Bombay”, but later most of his scenes did not make into the final cut, which had really broken his heart. Further to continue his work as an actor, he started working in TV serials like Laal Ghaas Par Neele Ghode, Darr, Kahkashan. He gained his popularity as an actor from his role in the TV serial “Chandrakanta”. He also bagged some important roles in several other serials like The Great Marath, Chanakya, Bharat Ek Khoj and many more. He started getting bigger roles on the big screen with the movie “The Warrior”, which was a historical film, which opened in the international film festival. In his entire career he played a wide variety of roles, from serious dark roles, negative roles, comic and sarcastic roles in the different movies he was part of. He proved his versatility and his legacy as an actor through various roles in movies like Maqbool, Pan Singh Tomar, Piku, Lunch Box, Life in a Metro, Hindi Medium, Haider and many more. He also marked his identity as a brilliant actor internationally by featuring in movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi, Jurrasic World and TV series like the HBO series “In Treatment”, where he played the role of a depressed person, which he also confessed that it was one of the most challenging role he played in his acting career. Irrfan Khan always introduced himself as Irrfan.

“While giving   interview to India Today in 2016, Irrfan had said that he dropped his last name because it is his work that should define him, not his lineage. ‘Khan’ was the ultimate booster for getting entry in the movies. He stood against the very fabric of Bollywood.”

In the year 1995, in month of February he got married to Sutapa Sikdar, who was a fellow student with him at the NSD and later became the integrated part and partner of his life. Further they had two sons Babil and Ayan. Irrfan was as good as a family man as he was an actor and he was the hero to his family in the real life. Irrfan was honoured for his brilliant acting and his contribution to the cinema with the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award. Also, he got awarded with National Film Awards for his role of the rebellion in the movie “Paan Singh Tomar”. His co-stars and directors have always admitted that he is brilliant as an actor and can deliver his work effortlessly and was like a walking institution of acting, and one could always learn a lot from him. With his acting skills, outstanding performances and movie choice, he had made home in the heart of every cinema lover and was considered one of the best actors of this era.

A dialogue from the movie Life of Pi.

But unfortunately, everything started to shatter when he announced through twitter in the month of March 2018 that he had been diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour. Amidst his battle with the tumour in UK, all his fans expected he would come back as a fighter he was and would give us some more pieces of his excellence in the form of outstanding cinema. Even in his last movie that was released this year, Angrezi Medium, he was brilliant in the role of a father and made each one of us shed tears with his performance. Alas! It was the last time we were fortunate enough to see him on the big screen, as he lost his battle with tumour on 29th April and left us all and went to the arms of his mother who had passed away just three days before his death. Irrfan always wanted to be remembered for his work and he achieved that very successfully. He was one of the rarest stars on Earth, who always remained down to earth and humble, irrespective of the name and fame he earned.

A tribute to Rishi Kapoor, another star in the legend of Kapoors

Rishi Kapoor, also popular as Chintu among his fans, was born in Bombay on the 4th of September 1952, and was the second son of the great actor-director Shri Raj Kapoor. Being from the family with a background and lineage in Bollywood, he had inherited some really good acting skills. He proved his acting brilliance at a very young age, when he was casted in the movie Mera Naam Joker, to play the younger version of the main character which was played by his father. He was awarded with the National Film Award for best child artist for the same role. Later he made his debut in the Bollywood in a lead role in the movie Bobby, which was a blockbuster of that time. He was always a busy artist and played a variety of roles in several superhit movies. Some of his noteworthy movies in lead roles were Amar Akbar Anthony, Rafoo Chakkar, Karz, Prem Rog, Sagar and the list goes on. He had worked in remarkable number of romantic movies, in many which he shared screen with Neetu Kapoor, who later became off screen love of his and the couple got married in the year 1980. Both of them had one daughter and one son, Riddhima Kapoor Sahni and the present generation star Ranbir Kapoor. Throughout his acting career, Chintu Ji was involved with the actors of several generations, and he shared screen with greats like Amitabh Bacchan, Vinod Khanna to Shahrukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan to Siddharth Malhotra and Tapsee Pannu. He always gave the best of his performance in any role he took in his hand.


Rishi Kapoor was also politically and socially very much involved and was an outspoken person on the internet. He never hesitated in sharing his political and personal views related to several happenings around the nation and had to face a number of controversies due to that. But despite of everything he always backed himself and stood his ground. Rishi ji also wrote his autobiography with Meena Iyer under the title, Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored and it was launched on 15th of January 2017. Later in the year 2018, he got diagnosed with leukaemia and went to New York for treatment. He had returned to India on 26th of September 2019 after undergoing a successful treatment of Leukemia. But, unfortunately, his health deteriorated and he had to be admitted in HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai on the 29th of April 2020, where he also took his last breath before leaving us forever on the morning of 30th April 2020. Rishi Kapoor had given some amazing and award winning performances in the recent years in the form of grandfather in “Kapoor and Sons” and in the form of son of a 102 year old Amitabh Bacchan in the movie “102 Not Out”. He will be always remembered for his contribution to the industry and his legendary acting career.

In two days and less than 24 hours the nation lost two of its gems. It has been a really dark time for the nation. Both the legends, Irrfan and Rishi Kapoor shared screen in the 2013 movie D-Day and complimented each other’s performance in their respective roles. While one taught us how to climb to reach the sky despite of hardships, other taught us to be strong and brave throughout life to create and maintain our legacy.

It seems as if both of them had a meeting in the other world, where they bid us good bye together and left for heaven while sharing a car like the scene from the movie D-Day. The loss that has occurred will never be recovered but at the same time we should remember that legends never die, they live with us, through the generation forever. O Dear Irrfan and Rishi Ji you will always be in our hearts and live with us in our memories legends! May your souls Rest in Peace.

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