William Shakespeare said, “It is a wise father that knows his own child.” Believe me, my father knew his children in and out.
Growing up in what they call the first family of Indian cinema, my father, despite being Rishi Kapoor the actor, was just the way any father would be to his kids. In the Kapoor household, I saw my father play myriad roles. He was a dutiful son, a caring brother, a doting husband and above all a selflessly loving and dedicated father.
The family man
When I was born, the family says he vowed that he would not only be the perfect father to me, but also be a friend to his kids. Owing to his extremely busy schedule and back-to-back shoots, my father was never the parent who escorted us from activity to activity, but his spirit, his influence, his character and the value system of our household that he and my mother nurtured in us, were invaluable to my brother Ranbir and me.
My father’s world revolved around his family. He shared a fabulous bond with his siblings and he averred that family ties are the most precious ones and should always be cherished.
Besides spending time with my mother, Ranbir and myself, it was sacrosanct for him to spend time with my grandparents, uncles and aunts. Whether it was the mandatory family lunches or dinners, the Sunday movie dates or watching the Indiana Jones film series, we would work our schedules around it and ensure all of us were together for each other.
(From left) Rishi Kapoor’s firstborn, Riddhima, with her parents and brother as a kid, during her wedding and after the demise of her father
Food for thought
People who knew him are well aware of how much he loved his food. My father, like me, was an ardent foodie. We loved Chinese cuisine. Whenever I visited Bombay, dad would ensure there was Chinese food from my favourite restaurant every day. And we would keep up the tradition of playing rapid-fire word games at the dinner table, the way we did when Ranbir and I were children. Dad would keep Ranbir and I on our toes right through the games and then announce the winner in his particular dramatic style.
“Growing up in what they call the first family of Indian cinema, my father was just the way any father would be: besides mom, Ranbir and me, it was sacrosanct for him to spend time with my grandparents, uncles and aunts”
Among the many things we learnt from our superhero, dad taught us to be fair, humble, kind and independent. My father professed that besides being a warm-hearted, caring, loving and nurturing human being, one must know how to express oneself and speak one’s mind fearlessly.
The show will go on
He isn’t around anymore, but his spirit and teachings will forever dwell in my heart. We were literally identical people and shared the same sun sign, so my connection with my father was undeniably a very special one for me. Besides being my dad and my superhero, he was my best friend, my greatest mentor, my motivation and my deepest roots. His unshaken and perpetual belief in me and my limitless potential always empowered me.
“[Even until recently], we played rapid-fire word games at the dining table. Dad would keep Ranbir and I on our toes, and announce the winner in his dramatic style…”
They say daughters soften their father’s heart. Dad, you had the gentlest heart ever. My love and gratitude for you is endless. The knowledge and the experiences you lived with are the irreplaceable life lessons I live by.
Chasing my wildest dreams and striving to always make you proud, I promise you, Papa, the show must and will go on.
Happy Father’s Day! I love you!
Riddhima Kapoor Sahni is the eldest child of actors Rishi and Neetu Kapoor. She is a jewellery designer and is based in New Delhi with her husband Bharat Sahni and their nine-year old daughter, Samara.
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From HT Brunch, June 21, 2020
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