Rishi Kapoor: Song Master

Saying someone is “good at lipsyncing” sounds as silly as an air guitar contest, but it is an actual thing! There is something about being able to sell a song, even if you aren’t the one singing it, and Rishi was truly the master.

The Kapoors can’t sing, but love music. It’s a genetic thing and it really does run in their veins. Raj Kapoor discovered the great singers and songwriters of his era, recognized their genius and developed it. Shammi Kapoor was the epitome of “dance like no one is watching” and created a whole dance style just his own. And then there’s Rishi who, in some strange hard to define way, was “good” at lipsyncing.

From the start of his career, Rishi sat in on music sessions, composing and recording for the songs for his films. He even gave notes on how he thought his character would or would not sing. By the time the audio of the song was recorded it was already half his. Once the audio was combined with visual, it became completely absolutely “his” song.

Rishi had a simple trick, which he passed on to his son, and that is to sing the song for real as loudly as possible while doing the song video. It works! Not just to make his face look like he is singing, but the music runs through his whole body and you can’t escape it. Watching Rishi in a song makes you smile, makes you want to get up and sing and dance along with him.

If you are feeling sad today, watch Rishi songs, and I guarantee you will have a smile on your face. I’m going to put my favorites below, please join in with more in the comments.

Rishi’s first song onscreen, “Main Shayar To Nahin”, no dancing and no fancy moves, just sincerely singing into the camera and smiling a little because music is a happy thing.

“Khullam Khulla”, the song everyone thinks of as the anthem of his romance with Neetu. They got a little high, for real, to film it. And Rishi was helping Neetu because she was more high and less experienced (for real) than he was. And both of them were also having one of the funnest afternoons of their lives, off in the mountains young and free with the guy/girl they liked.

“The Medley” from Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Rishi shows his ability to not just perform, but to actively listen. He makes you enjoy his performance, and makes you enjoy the other performance as well through his enjoyment.

Same movie, title song, a Qawalli. Rishi has told Zeenat (his girlfriend) that either she disobeys her guardian and joins him on stage, or he will kill himself at the end of the song. Rishi not only sells the song, he sells the character emotions, cocky confidence mixed with love yearning as he looks at the empty place waiting for Zeenat.

I could go on and on about the classic Rishi songs of the 70s, but I want to leap forward a bit to his later era. 102 Not Out was a great late Rishi film, where he brought some of that joy to the screen again.

What are your favorite Rishi songs?

14 thoughts on “Rishi Kapoor: Song Master

  1. All great choices!
    First song that came to me after seeing the news – Tere Chehre Se

    Parda Hai Parda was next – love the cheeky brazenness!

    Tu Tu Hai Wahi

    Kahin Na Jaa

    Dafli Wale Dafli Baja – that bit in SOTY during Radha is so joyous!

    Om Shanti Om

    and so many more!


    • Oh! Om Shanti Om is a great one! I almost regret not including it.

      On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 7:46 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • It may be always the one that will come to my mind first when thinking of Rishi and songs because of the honour given to this song in Farah’s movie 🙂
        Indeed, Rishi had a great style to deliver his songs…for me they mostly came across as believable, as heartfelt.


  2. Bachna Ae Haseeno. For no better reason than that it was one of my first 70s songs, when that fluffy white outfit and heart necklace still seemed so charmingly ridiculous to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, how could I have forgotten! Of course! And it perfectly captures that 70s zest he had, confident and charming and king of the world.

      On Fri, May 1, 2020 at 3:14 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. I read an interview of a dance director a while back and she said that nobody could dance with a Dafli like Rishi Kapoor. If you gave him a Dafli, he would just create magic on screen with it!


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