Rishi Kapoor, Indian Movie Star, Producer and Director, Dies at 67

Kapoor had been battling cancer

Rishi Kapoor Getty Images

Rishi Kapoor, a pillar of Indian cinema who starred in more than 100 films over his 50-year career and also produced and directed, died early Thursday morning after a two year battle with cancer. He was 67.

“Our dear Rishi Kapoor passed away peacefully at 8:45am IST in hospital today after a two-year battle with leukemia. The doctors and medical staff at the hospital said he kept them entertained to the last,” Kapoor’s family said in a statement to the Hindustan Times.

The statement continued: “He remained jovial and determined to live to the fullest right through two years of treatment across two continents. Family, friends, food and films remained his focus and everyone who met him during this time was amazed at how he did not let his illness get the better of him.”

“He was grateful for the love of his fans that poured in from the world over. In his passing, they would all understand that he would like to be remembered with a smile and not with tears.”

“In this hour of personal loss, we also recognise the world is going through a very difficult and troubled time. There are numerous restrictions around movement and gathering in public. We would like to request all his fans and well-wishers and friends of the family to please respect the laws that are in force.”

According to the Hindustan Times, Kapoor was admitted to hospital on Wednesday, local time, after experiencing difficulty breathing. He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and received treatment in the United States for a year. He returned to India in 2019.

Kapoor came from an acting dynasty, the Kapoor family, which has produced multiple generations of film stars in India. His father was legendary Hindi cinema actor and director Raj Kapoor, his grandfather was actor Prithviraj Kapoor, several of his uncles were actors and filmmakers, as are both of his brothers. His children also went into the film industry, most notably his son, Ranbir Kapoor.

He made his film debut in 1970 with “Mera Naam Joker,” directed by his father, and went on to establish himself as a leading romantic actor during the 70s and 80s. He starred as the romantic lead in 92 films from 1973 until 2000, before transitioning to character-based roles.

For his debut film role, Kapoor received the Bengal Film Journalists’ Association’s Special Award, and National Film Award. His other honors include the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for “Bobby” (1974), a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (2008), and the Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Comic Role for “Kapoor & Sons,” among many others.

He married actress Neetu Singh in 1980. The two starred together in twelve films, and remained married until his death.

“My heart is so heavy. This is the end of an era. #Rishisir your candid heart and immeasurable talent will never be encountered again. Such a privilege to have known you even a little bit. My condolences to Neetu maam, Ridhima, Ranbir and the rest of the family. Rest in peace Sir,” actress Priyanka Chopra wrote in a post on Instagram after news of Kapoor’s death became public.