Who Was Rajiv Kapoor?

This is a sad one. Not a sad one today, just a sad one in general. A life story that makes me a little mournful when I think about it.

You know those people who never quite blossom somehow? Not like promising young geniuses who fail, but just regular folks who somehow never quite come together as full people the way most folks do? That was Rajiv Kapoor. He always made me a little sad to think about, the same way I would feel sad to think about a rose bush that grew a little crooked and never flowered.

Image result for rajiv kapoor

Raj Kapoor was a brilliant phenomenally successful man, a true tortured artist who was continually frustrated when life did not live up to his visions. Unfortunately, he took that frustration and disappointment out on his family. He had 5 children, Randhir the oldest, then Rishi, then Ritu. Then a big gap, and two more children, Rajiv and Rima. I think, in this family, probably the oldest and youngest sons were the ones who bore the brunt the most. Randhir was pushed to succeed at a very young age, asked to direct his first movie at only 24. He couldn’t possibly live up to all the expectations put on him and eventually sank into alcohol and a sort of sad giving up of life. His wife left him, his children left him, his career left him. And then, miraculously, he managed to survive and is slowly getting all of that back, a career as a character actor, his wife returned, and his children devoted.

But Rajiv, I think Rajiv was cursed by never being expected to do anything at all. His family gave him a few film roles, and he did okay in them. He even had the chance to direct a family project. But no one was necessarily surprised when it didn’t take off. The biggest failure in this particular family (I suspect) is that he had an arranged marriage. The Kapoor men are these great romantics, magical love stories, eloping and winning their brides in the teeth of all obstacles. And here is Rajiv, somehow never quite falling in love, never quite finding someone, until his big brothers had to take over and get him a bride when he was 39. I assume the conversation went “well, Rajiv, you are about to turn 40. We thought you would find someone on your own, but I guess you haven’t. Do you want us to take care of it for you?” And then he nodded and they went out and found him someone. That marriage only lasted 2 years.

58 years of life. A few film roles in his youth, his name on the family studio letterhead (and even that is gone now with the loss of the family studio), an arranged marriage at 39 and divorced by 41, no children, no fame, nothing really in his life. Even his own family, they talk about how they revered his older sister, how his mother was so strong, these people the public doesn’t know still matter to them. But not Rajiv, really. He was always just sort of there.

Image result for rajiv kapoor rishi kapoor shashi kapoor

It makes me sad. It would make me sad if this were the family down the block too, or someone in my family. These people where life somehow happens around them but never to them, where they come and go without ever quite making an impact. Is there anything worse? Anything sadder? To live 58 years and somehow vanish at the end without leaving a single gap?

8 thoughts on “Who Was Rajiv Kapoor?

  1. Was he sad though? Just because he didn’t fulfill the expectations of his family and society. Maybe it was like Will success spoil Rock Hunter? and his true passion was something else entirely (cooking, doing extremely boring administrative work, gardening) and he did that the whole time. Maybe he was gay or trans and had a full life cruising and dressing up in secret. Maybe he was really happy and counted it as a success just to avoid the drama and addiction and abuse of his youth and his brothers’ lives (if he did).

    Liked by 1 person

      • Again, I really WANT that to be true!!! But the Kapoors are generally accepting of all sorts of non-traditional relationships. And are even accepting of bachelorhood. I just feel like if he were happily single, or happily in a private relationship, they would have left him alone.

        On Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 1:17 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        Liked by 1 person

    • I wish for that to be true, but somehow in this case it just doesn’t feel like it. We know he tried to be an architect (I think) and it didn’t work, we know he spent the last 2 decades marking time sitting in the studio offices, we never heard about him doing photography or cooking for family events or really anything at all. He’s famous enough that I feel like if he had ANY interest or talent it would have come up at some point, if nothing else in Rishi’s autobiography or the Madhu Jain very detailed book. There’s various Shammi children we really know nothing about, they could be doing all sorts of interesting things, but Rajiv was in the public eye enough that I think we would know if there was any more there-there.

      On Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 1:07 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you both are correct. Rishi Kapoor in his autobiography Khullam Kulla specifically stated that he worried about Rajiv (Chimpu) and was sad that he never actualized his full potential but also said he was an excellent film editor and had an uncanny musical ability/ relative pitch and could play instruments like the piano without ever having formally learned it. But then again, Rishi also acknowledged that Rajiv and he were just never close and Randhir held the family together.

        Also, here is also an interview Rajiv did in 2016. Regarding his marriage, he specifically states:

        “Yes, I was married, but it didn’t even last for a couple of months. I then got divorced, remained single, but I was happy with my life. However, I now have my partner with me and I’m happy.”

        https://www.cinestaan.com/articles/2016/aug/25/1881

        I think use of the phrase “my partner” is interesting because it feels like maybe, in his own way, he was trying to explain why his marriage could never have worked.

        Liked by 1 person

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