Had Rishi Kapoor been alive today, he would have entertained us with new films for many more years on celluloid. But sadly, that won’t happen. But yes, there's one film in the pipeline which is largely ready- Sharmaji Namkeen.
Lots to ask the film's producer Honey Trehan. Here are the excerpts from our recent conversation with him:
Correct me if I am wrong. but Rishi Kapoor first fell ill when he was shooting on your film Sharmaji Namkeen?
Yes, we were in Delhi. Doctors told him that his platelet count had dropped. Soon, he learned that he was suffering from leukemia, which was at first stage. He said he shall resume our film after he's back from his treatment in the US. Ranbir had come to Delhi to pick him up (pauses). All this happened in November 2018.
After a year, he returned to India and continued to stay in touch. We used to talk at least once a week.
After some time, we decided to get back on the film from November 2019. I was looking for a co-producer in those days and I approached Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Siddhwani. They were very happy to join, plus I also wanted to work with them.
We started in December. We wrapped one schedule in Mumbai and our next schedule was in Delhi from January 15, 2020. We shot for a while but got interrupted by the smog. We decided to return and shoot the rest in Mumbai. We were still figuring the dates and Coronavirus struck. We couldn't start in Mumbai soon as a postponement had happened and other actors of the film were busy. And now here we are!
You didn't keep in touch with Rishi during the lockdown?
I was in touch with him. When I last spoke to him, he sounded fine. I even told him that I'll visit him and he assured me to not worry and see him post the lockdown.
He was full of life. Koi negative thought nahi tha. He used to shoot for long hours without any complaints. I remember when we were shooting in Jan, he came to Delhi two days before the shooting date. The very next day, his sister Ritu Jain passed away. We sent him our condolences and told him we can start after few days. But he instead said, 'Why should we delay? The show must go on. My Dad taught me this. Okay, tell me the call time for tomorrow'. And believe me, he was there on the set the next day, on the dot at 8.30 am.
Did he show any signs of discomfort or fatigue as the shoot progressed?
Now, how will you take the film ahead?
No idea. I don't even know how the COVID-19 will play out. At this time, I haven't yet been able to decide how we'll be going ahead.
But of course, we will complete the film. It's a special one.
Have you spoken to Juhi Chawla- who plays the female lead in your film- after Rishi passed away?
Yes, I have. She is also devastated.
How would you describe Rishi Kapoor?
Rishi Kapoor was fun, a total riot. He was so full of energy. Be it anyone who came to him for an autograph, he used to literally get up from his chair and speak to that person.
You aptly said that Sharmaji Namkeen is a special film...
Certain creative calls will have to be taken, especially on how to culminate Rishi's role. I definitely want this film to come out because it has turned out to be Rishi's last work.
Image Source:- youtube/ movietalkies, southchinamorningpost, twitter /HoneyTrehan, instagram /neetu54
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