A towering personality and an amazing friend, Rishi-ji was far more than just a mere costar in my eyes. During one of our first films together, Rishi-ji did something that I still remember clearly to this day.During the shooting of a rain sequence for Gharana (1989), I was running during one of the shots when I suddenly slipped and fell, cutting my arm badly with the glass bangles that I was wearing. Even though we were in the middle of the scene, Rishi-ji immediately broke character rushed over to check on me, shouting for first aid.
From that moment, I knew that he and I would carry a friendship, and I am still grateful for his timely intervention and the care he displayed toward me. Till 1993, I had the pleasure to continue working with him in various films; he always put me at such ease that I almost forgot I was starring with the scion of the Kapoor family. No matter the task at end, I felt safe and well-protected while working with him, and as a result, we were able to produce beautiful work.
I must highlight Damini(1993) in particular given its tremendous story, superb directing, and gripping scenes. Despite his numerous accolades as a star in the Bollywood industry, I still am upset over the fact that he Rishi-ji did not win an award for his finely nuanced performance in Damini. He truly shined in the movie, and even though 27 years have now passed since its release, Rishi-ji’s work still stands strong and proud.
Another memorable moment comes from that same shooting of Gharana (1989) when during one scene, Rishi-ji had to do a yoga pose for the scene, and I was surprised as to how easily he performed the difficult pose of Sheershasana. Times such as these allowed me to take a step back and be thankful to be in the presence of such a magnetic force.
Later in life, I occasionally would go visit Rishi-ji and Neetu-ji, his wife, spending some quality time with them. In 2015, I went to visit him for the last time at his bungalow in Pali Hill. He was taken aback by my appearance given that I looked very different from what he remembered, but he still warmly welcomed me and made me feel as if no time had passed since we last met. The person who I had counted on for advice and for friendship welcomed me with open arms.
I had been in contact with him a few times since then, but now I wish I had stayed more in touch with him. I will remember Rishi-ji fondly, and he and his family are in my thoughts and prayers. The world has lost a pure actor, but his legacy will live on. It is my heartfelt prayer that you find strength, Neetu-ji, and that Rishi-ji may rest in peace.
– Meenakshi Sheshadri