Beloved Bollywood star Rishi Kapoor died Thursday morning, his family said, after a two-year battle with leukemia. He was 67. The veteran actor, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and returned to India in September 2019 following treatment in New York, passed away peacefully in a hospital, his family representative said in a statement. He had recently been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai.
"The doctors and medial staff at the hospital said he kept them entertained to the last," the statement said. "He remained jovial and determined to live to the fullest right through two years of treatment across two continents. Family, friends, food and films remained his focus and everyone who met him during this time was amazed at how he did not let his illness get the better of him. He was grateful for the love of his fans that poured in from the world over. In his passing, they would all understand that he would like to be remembered with a smile and not with tears." The statement also urged his fans and well-wishers to respect India's current lockdown restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, noting: "He would not have it any other way."
Kapoor, whose prominent family has dominated Bollywood for generations, made his official debut as a child actor in 1970 with his father Raj Kapoor's film Mera Naam Joker (My Name Is Joker). His first lead role, in the 1973 romantic film Bobby, won him the Filmfare Award — India's equivalent of the Oscars, for Best Actor. Over the course of his career, Kapoor acted in more than 100 films, playing both the romantic lead and character roles.
Kapoor is survived by his actress wife Neetu Singh and two children, including actor Ranbir Kapoor. Rishi Kapoor is also the uncle of actresses Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor-Khan.
After news of his death spread, he was immediately mourned by fans, celebrities and politicians alike, with many posting tributes on social media to the veteran actor. Fellow Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan tweeted that he was "destroyed" by Kapoor's death. Cricketer Virender Sehwang wrote heartfelt condolences to Kapoor's family. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that Kapoor "was a powerhouse of talent," adding that he would always recall their interactions, even on social media. "He was passionate about films and India's progress. Anguished by his demise. Condolences to his family and fans. Om Shanti."
Kapoor's death comes one day after the death of fellow Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan, who was known internationally for his roles in Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire and Jurassic World.