Book review: Khullam Khulla Rishi Kapoor Uncensored

That was the first word I uttered once I reached Page No. 256 of Rishi Kapoor’s unabashed biography Khullam Khulla. From first till the last page of the book, there is so much to offer in this autobiography which has been rightly suffixed as ‘Uncensored’ that you relish all its flavours. Sheer entertainment is in the offing through this book where Rishi Kapoor puts it all together with author and critic Meena Iyer. What you get to read is some real fluid text on display that makes Khullam Khulla akin to a living room conversation taking place, all of which is ‘uncensored’ and of course, ‘khulla khulla’.

I am quite sure that had it not been Rishi Kapoor himself penning it all down and some outsider had been entrusted with the responsibility of putting together his biography, close to 50 pages would have just been spent detailing the legacy of Kapoor khandaan. Their legacy ‘gaon’, ‘mohalla’ and origin from two generations even prior to Prithviraj Kapoor would have been explored and while all of that would have resulted in some good academic and literary, for an ‘aam reader’, it would have been rather unnecessary. That has been my grudge with quite a few authors and thankfully, none of that happens in case of Khulla Khulla.

Here, the book doesn’t follow a linear pattern of going back in time and detailing how things were (or would have been) in Rishi Kapoor’s life. Instead, it is a conversation that builds organically. You get to know about the RK legacy but you also keep hearing about how Rishi Kapoor built his career, started with a bang, suffered a few failures, and then got back into action. You get to hear about his relationship with his father Raj Kapoor but then you also get to know how he enjoys his drink on returning from work. You get to know about his relationship with wife Neetu Singh but there are hits and flop stories thrown in too.

It is this unconventional, yet fluid pattern that makes Khullam Khulla a very engaging read. Moreover, a first person account always manages to set up a platform where conversations become rather uninhibited. This was the key strength of Naseeruddin Shah’s memoir [And Then One Day] as well as Karan Johar’s recently released autobiography An Unsuitable Boy. Now Rishi Kapoor’s Khullam Khulla manages to score quite well in this department as well and hence becomes accessible to not just those who belong to the world of films or have seen his films regularly but also those who just know of him as a film person.

What is an added bonus though is if as a reader you have also managed to interact with him for a few times. On my first-hand account, I can vouch for the fact that there is not an ounce of fake-ness or artificiality in what you get to read in this truly ‘uncensored’ book. Every sentence that you come across truly makes you believe that it is Rishi Kapoor stating it as-is in his true self and right spirit. He is the man that he is and while what you read may come across as him being brash, what you read in the book only makes you all the more familiar about him. If you have ever spoken to him or heard him in his interviews or followed him on social media, you would realize that there is no diversion in the book.

This is the reason why you are not surprised at all when he admits that speaking his mind out is one of his traits and he doesn’t shy away from that ever even if that comes across as arrogance. This is the reason why you are not amazed when he reiterates that in many ways he stays on to be old school even when it comes to dealing with the younger generation right at home (Ranbir being a living example). This is the reason why you are not shocked when he doesn’t hesitate even calling out some of his own films as total duds (from past till the present) while also praising some of his other performances highly.

Of course in the middle of this all, he also throws in some ‘reader friendly’ anecdotes that of course help in marketing of the book. So be it his admission of buying an award for Bobby or meeting Dawood Ibrahim a couple of times or being in touch with a ‘matka’ king to getting into more than just a couple of drunken brawls to distance developing between him and his best friends to being irresponsible in a few social gatherings during his earlier years to being possessive about his wife to being not so fond of Rajesh Khanna to the cold relationship that he shared with Amitabh Bachchan – he says it all and more.

As for the love affairs, he doesn’t just call out the ones that his father Raj Kapoor had even after marriage, he even drops more than just a hint around his own flings, albeit the ones that happened before his marriage to Neetu Singh. Other than one of his relationships with a non-Bollywood woman that didn’t work out, he also shares his version of the special relationship that he had with a couple of actresses. He is as candid as it can get in a book and leaves it to an individual to leave between the lines.

For a reader though there is a lot to read on and in between the lines when it comes to this very entertaining book. Easily one of the most heartful accounts to have come from a celebrity who is still in the business and knows how to call a spade a spade, Khullam Khulla – Rishi Kapoor Uncensored is a must buy.

 Price: Rs. 599/=

 Rating: ****1/2

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