Rishi Kapoor recently released his autobiography Khullam Khulla: Uncensored a couple of days ago. The book is turning out to be quite the revelation because for the very first time, Kapoor has spoken at length about his issue with Amitabh Bachchan. Here are some excerpts.
To go back to Amitabh, I must confess there is still a lingering issue I have with Amitabh Bachchan. A big disadvantage of working in an all-star movie in those days was that everybody only wanted to make action films, which automatically meant that the star who could carry off action with the most flair would get the meatiest part. That’s how, with the exception of Kabhi Kabhie, which was a romantic film, none of the multi-starrers I featured in had an author-backed role for me. Directors and writers unfailingly reserved their strongest, pivotal roles for Amitabh Bachchan. And it wasn’t just me. Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna faced it too.
He spoke about how other actors had to work doubly hard to match up to AB.
Amitabh is undeniably a superb actor, immensely talented and, at the time, the number one star who ruled the box-office. He was an action hero, the angry young man. So roles were written for him. Although we may have been smaller stars, we were not lesser actors. Yet, the rest of us had to constantly measure up to him. We had to work hard, really exert ourselves to match up. In my time, the musical/romantic hero had no place. Amitabh was an action hero in an era of action films. As such, writers gave him the lion’s share and he had the authorbacked roles in almost all his films. This gave him an advantage over the rest of us who had to make our presence felt with whatever we got.
This is where the problem arises.
But this is something that Amitabh has never ever admitted to, in any interview or book. He has never given due credit to the actors who have worked with him. He has always credited his writers and directors, Salim-Javed, Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra, Yash Chopra and Ramesh Sippy. But it is also true that his co-stars had an undeniable role in his success. Shashi Kapoor in Deewaar (1975), Rishi Kapoor in Amar Akbar Anthony and Coolie or Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha and Dharmendra all contributed to the success of his films where they shared credit with him, even if in secondary roles. This is something no one has realized or acknowledged. But it was the way things were and we accepted it gracefully.
Interesting. We wonder what Amitabh Bachchan has to say about this.