As requested by two of my favorite ladies, Ana and Sidekick, here’re my top five favorite movies from Bollywood’s #1 cutie-pie couple: Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh.
I’ve often noticed that in Bollywood, once a couple hooks up, they always find a way to wriggle into their sweetheart’s movie. There will be special appearances, item songs, whatever they can swing. I guess this is the time honored way to spend time with each other and navigate strenuous shooting schedules. And in case you think this is a recent phenomenon (why, hello there Kareena Kapoor and Salman Khan! Fancy running into you here) this is a tradition that goes back a while. Just look at that other pair featured on this blog, Hema-Dharam and their 42 movies.
Which is why I appreciate Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh as a couple. Not only were the two of them enormous stars separately on their own, but they managed to maintain it by themselves. Rishi didn’t turn up as some banjara consolation prize for Neetu Singh at the end of Kaala Patthar and Neetu never showed up to die in a flashback that explained Rishi’s sadness in any movie. Together, they appeared in 12 movies, most of them good if not outright great, some of them okay and none of them bad. The only other real life couple I can think of who’ve any done better is Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri (I won’t count Waheeda Rehman and Guru Dutt because she’s never chosen to acknowledge their off-set relationship and he was a married man all throughout their working relationship).
5. Kabhie Kabhie – Let me be honest. The last half hour – forty-five minutes of this movie is crap of the crappiest kind. To a point where I thought of leaving the movie entirely off the list. But I was convinced that if I did that, a giant hand would descend from the heavens, pick me up, carry me to the ocean and drown me. I don’t think I would like that. Actually, apart from Amitabh Bachchan’s fake-mustachioed Mr. Super McScowly in the second half and his incredibly annoying ham of a daughter (seriously? You think Amitabh and Waheeda would give birth to that grating brat? Sometimes I shake my head at thee Yash Chopra), I like this movie a lot. For one thing it had my Shashi Kapoor as a charmer who could make Rakhee go for some nookie even as she sang sadly about her lost love i.e. Amitabh pre-McScowlydom. Plus, Rakhee and Waheeda both gave excellent performances as women struggling with guilt, love and motherhood. And none of it would have worked without Neetu and Rishi to act all cute and there for each other. Aww. Below, a lesser known song where Rishi makes time with both sisters and acts like a total douchebag – but that doesn’t happen till the end of the video. Till then they’re being all awesome in the face of the jitterbugging mosquito. It’s also quite hilarious how the three of them are clearly on a trip of their own in spite of the extras in the background trying to pretend that they’re all one big happy dance party.
4. Duniya Meri Jeb Mein – A Shashi-Rishi movie once again (they’ve appeared four times together and all three full fledged roles included Neetu paired opposite Rishi), this one pretty much wastes Shashi who gets crippled early on and therefore gets no love since Bollywood only rewards physical disabilities that can ultimately be completely cured like new. So children, if you’re ever in an accident or fall prey to the nefarious designs of an evildoer and want to someday fall in love, be sure you get blinded in such a way that you can get a corneal transplant in the future. All else is hopeless. I mean, Shashi gets plenty of brotherly love from Rishi but that’s not what I’m talking about. Below, an avenging Rishi in a downmarket matador’s outfit + Neetu in a gypsy fortune teller ensemble + Ranjit in a tux + can can dancers who don’t can can wearing what appears to be the knockoff version of the pink outfit from Gigi + frenzied Beatles-y band in orange suits + Kishore Kumar + big, plastic ball = fun, baby, fun!
3. Rafoo Chakkar – A remake of Some Like it Hot, Rishi in drag is a sight to behold. And hilarious to boot. If only he’d tried for a Tony Curtis pout, my life would have been complete. Neetu as a rather materialistic young woman who very kindly doesn’t comment on her new friend’s utter trannyliciousness is a sweetheart. The rest of the movie isn’t a big surprise but still… Rishi is so fetching! Waaaaoooowww!
2. Doosra Aadmi – The reason I chose this as my number two fave is because it’s such a surprise. It’s about the sad, desperate things lonely people (in this case two women) do and the impact it has on other people’s lives. It doesn’t manage to completely cut away from the Bollywood factor but why would you want to see a Bollywood movie that’s entirely unlike Bollywood, right? Beth has a more in-depth post here – with pictures!
1. Amar Akbar Anthony – well, duh! A good masala movie is like a gift that keeps on giving and this is the king of all masaladom. Everytime you see it, there’s something more to appreciate. And when it’s a mammoth like AAA, it’s like a community project. Everyone’s got a favorite part and notices something new. Like Ana, who wrote about this little thing about the Rishi-Neetu bit that I must have seen a million times but never really paid attention to:
What I found to be fascinating, and linguistically so, was when Akbar, barred from leaving Robert’s house, writes to his wife in Urdu, in Nastaliq script which no one else can read, and gives her instructions for help. So it is not simply ek jagah jab jamah hoN teenoN, Amar. Akbar. Anthony, who save the day, but also Nastaliq!
It’s things like this that make AAA so wonderful as Filmigeek writes. Below, the most famous qawwali ever. It took me years to get over my disappointment that real life qawwals don’t jump on stage or do any of Rishi’s signature moves. Sadness.