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When Rishi Kapoor said he was left ‘aghast’ by Ranbir Kapoor’s debut Saawariya: ‘That story could never be made into film’


Ranbir Kapoor might belong to what many term as ‘Bollywood first family’, but his journey to fame didn’t start so smoothly. Yes, he got a dream launch in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya, but the film failed to impress critics, fans, or even his father, legendary actor Rishi Kapoor. Saawariya completes 14 years of releaase today.

In his candid memoir Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored, Rishi Kapoor recalled that he was ‘aghast’ by the film. Kapoor wrote that when Ranbir was signed on for Bhansali’s film, he was keen to know about the story. However, Bhansali evaded his questions and kept saying, “I’ll get back to you.”

Kapoor wrote, “He didn’t give me a straight answer for a few months, and I began to wonder if he was avoiding me.”  Bhansali later called up Neetu Kapoor, feeling rather frazzled. “He called up Neetu and told her, ‘Sir keeps asking me, What are you making, what are you making? Now you tell me, what story could I have narrated to Amitabh Bachchan for Black, what could I have told Shah Rukh about Devdas?” Rishi Kapoor agreed to back off after that, deciding to believe in the director and thought that Ranbir was in good hands. However, the film bombed.

Kapoor wrote, “When we saw it for the first time, I was aghast. “I immediately recalled my father’s film Chhalia, which was Manmohan Desai’s first film. It didn’t run for even two shows. That story could never be made into a film. If only Bhansali had told me, I would have dissuaded him.”

Yet, he wasn’t completely discouraged by Saawariya, as Ranbir was noticed in the film. “The failure of Saawariya didn’t upset me because Ranbir was appreciated for his work and he moved from strength to strength,” he mentioned.

It appears that Rishi Kapoor was sparing with his praise for Ranbir, something the Sanju star later appreciated. “The thing is, my father is a very honest person. He never says something just to make somebody happy. My mother is a big fan of mine, whatever I do, is the best for her. But, my father always says, something is missing. His father used to always tell him something is missing,” he said on Aap Ki Adalat. Neetu Kapoor would also  apparently ask Rishi Kapoor why he never encouraged Ranbir.

Rishi Kapoor passed away last year after a long battle with cancer. On the work front, Ranbir has Brahmastra and Shamshera in the pipeline.


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