On April 30th 2020 like the rest of the world, I woke up to the sudden and tragic news of Rishi Kapoor passing. Lying in bed feeling the effects of emotional shock and mourning, my mind drifted back to the day when I first met Mr Kapoor.
I had recently opened my restaurant in Bandra, by the name of Bong Bong. Through passion, hard work, fate and with the help of a good public relation company. I had been fortunate enough to host many a Bollywood celebrity. However, 5 November 2012, the stars of destiny shined bright with a phone call from a film industry friend of mine. Rishi Kapoors assistant had reached out to him. Apparently, Neetu Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor wanted to come to Bong Bong for a tasting. I was overjoyed to hear the news because I have always been a huge fan of Chintu Kapoor.
Nervousness. Excitement. Anticipation. All emotions a great film can inspire us to feel! But that night I was feeling all the cinematic emotions standing in the dining room waiting on the couple to arrive. At 9:30 pm sharp the couple arrived along with their lovely daughter. Nervously, I approached the table – his presence feeling larger than life. When I introduced myself, his face was serious. I asked what he would like to have, and he said he loved mutton and whatever Bengali food I could get him.
After delivering our signature green chilli mutton with paratha, I retreated to the side to mumble to my companion. Will he like, will he not? What if he doesnt like spicy? Maybe green chilis arent his thing. So much like a movie, we watched with anticipation those first few bites. And then his face changed, seriousness moved into complete silence. Then,
Wow! What a dish. Ive never had something like this before! he exclaimed.
Have you ever sat in a movie and held your breath for a character? Only to find yourself sighing with relief when everything turns out alright? Realizing you had been holding your breath? Yes, I was sighing with relief. He loved it! Later we sat and talked. Easy, fun, and light conversation. He was witty, kind, and encouraging. He had a way of expressing his words. He could make anyone feel at home with his warmth. Thats probably what sets him apart from the rest. The man was larger than life. Put that together with the simplicity, honesty and the Rishi Kapoor charm is what makes him a legend that one feels personally connected to.
Today, I lay in bed and thought about the time that I had the privilege of meeting him. Recounting that afternoon left me with a smile on my face. Im sure that most people who had the chance to personally interact with him will only have memories of him that touched their hearts. His presence on and off-screen have always been exemplary. He will be remembered for time to come as the evergreen hero. I am grateful that I got to meet you and even more so because I had a chance to host you. Thank you, Mr Kapoor! You will always hold a special place in my heart.
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