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Controversy
Tinsel Theatrics
Did Rishi Kapoor actually beat up his wife Neetu?
COMMENTS PRINT
Interview
Neetu Kapoor talks about herself, her family and the upside of being Rishi Kapoor's wife. Excerpts :
The Noble Milkman

SOMETIME in the wee hours of November 1, the phone which rang at the Bandra police station pierced the peace of the Kapoor household. 27, Krishna Raj bungalow on Pali Hill had always been home to much activity—but the scene unfolding had for 17 years not been part of the Rishi-Neetu Kapoor "happy marriage" script.

The first phone call was received by the Bandra police around 3.45 am, with the caller identifying herself as actress Neetu Singh and giving an address which matched that of the Rishi-Neetu household. The caller claimed that her husband had been beating her under the influence of liquor and that the frequency had increased.

The Bandra police in turn informed the Khar police since the area came under the jurisdiction of their division. The sub-inspector on duty was informed of the call around 3.55 am. He left for the Kapoor residence five minutes later after a short entry in the station diary about the phone call. PSI Shirsat was met at the Kapoor household by Rishi Kapoor who denied any untoward incident. Rishi also added that Neetu was fast asleep and could not be disturbed. After a preliminary enquiry, the officer left the residence with instruction that the alleged complainant Neetu Singh report to the police station during the day. Subsequently, he filed a station diary report, with details of what transpired between him and Rishi Kapoor.

Neetu did not report the entire day to the police station. The following day, the officer went to the Kapoor household and met the couple. Both Neetu and Rishi denied any such incident, with the former claiming that at the time the call was made, they were fast asleep. Since there were no apparent injury marks on the actress's face, the officer left with a request to Neetu that if she felt like making a non-cognizable complaint, she was free to do so at the police station any day. Neetu declined the offer.

Yet it has been a blot on the fair copybook of the Kapoor family. Fifty years since the establishment of the RK banner and 25 years since the release of

Bobby , Rishi is in the process of filling the formidable shoes of his father as director of Akshaye Khanna-Aishwarya Rai starrer Aa Ab Laut Chalein . Already, the jumpy actor has been rattled by Bollywoood's speculation on the success—or the increasingly apparent lack of it—of his marriage. Film magazines had with repeated regularity jabbed at his expansive waistline, now he felt that they were beginning to hit below the belt. "Why should this be happening to me?" bellowed the actor to close friends soon after the story hit the fan.

 To the glossies, this was the ultimate grist for their mongering quills. The candyfloss couple seemed embittered; their halo required burnishing and the cracks in the flawless make-up threatened to reveal what the gossips suspected all along.

Close friends leapt in to put out the fire and quell the heat. Shobha Kapoor, wife of actor Jeetendra, surmises: "I'm sure that it is not true. Rishi and Neetu are happily married and very content with each other. Anyway, whether it is true or not, it is very unfair to write about people's private lives, especially people who have a dignified standing in society. It upsets the family altogether and the children too." Other discrepancies were rolled off too to staunch the run of the gossip mill. "Rubbish. The story is full of loopholes. The first item that appeared spoke of the cast of

Aa Ab Laut Chalein shooting in London, when in fact, they were in America. If the obvious facts are misreported, how can the rest of the story be given credence?" questioned Rishi's public relations consultant K.S. Sanjay.

But the industry's "made for each other" couple had unmade things for themselves. Over the years, the RK clan had sculptured larger-than-life images for themselves on screen while carving small niches for their women to be put in their place. While Krishna Kapoor put up with the philanderings of her illustrious husband, Babita and Neetu were groomed to toe the family line. Expected to follow in the Kapoor tradition of hospitality and gregariousness, they had to drop their tinsel dreams for good.

"The Kapoor family may be largely patriarchal but unlike the Deols, I do not think they have curbed their women in any way," observes Bharathi Pradhan, former editor, Movie and Showtime . "Both the bahus, especially Neetu, gave up their careers because they had had enough. Again, the high-profile, outgoing women in Raj Kapoor's family are different from those in Shammi Kapoor's where the women cover their heads or from Shashi Kapoor's family where the women are self-made and unconventional. Each unit respects the other while running their personal fiefdoms."

Largely peace-loving, the spirited Kapoor men have always found the evening peg of Black Label irresistible. "The last two years have been especially bad for Rishi and Neetu and this might have been the culmination of the tiffs," says an old film hand.

Indeed, recent interviews in film magazines had pointed to things apart from Black Label brewing in the Rishi-Neetu home. Two months ago,

Stardust ran a veiled story on Neetu's intimate friendship with Ena Sharma, Sanjay Dutt's controversial sister-in-law. This was followed by another interview in which an anguished Rishi Kapoor squarely blamed a few disgruntled families in New Jersey, America, for stubbing his marriage into shreds.

"Suddenly an upstart like Ena crops up from nowhere and stakes her claim in the relationship. Neetu was present at (Ena's sister) Richa's funeral and Ena stays with the Kapoors when in India. There is also a rumour that when Rishi was shooting in America, Neetu joined Ena in London. These stories have really upset Rishi immeasurably," says a family friend. Rishi's own reaction in Savvy was: "Which marriage doesn't go through its share of tiffs and arguments? But we are not on the verge of a divorce."

 For a while, Rishi's directorial venture Aa Ab Laut Chalein actually drew attention from his marital problems; till Ena and the corresponding spousal spats surfaced again. Though Rishi insisted that Ena was as much a friend of his as of Neetu's, friends feel that the industry's most exemplary marriage might face the axe. "Rishi is trying to hold the marriage together but it seems like Neetu might want out. If that happens, Krishna will have all of her three sons living in their Chembur house once again," speculates an industry wag.

Which would be a pity.

COMMENTS PRINT
Interview
Neetu Kapoor talks about herself, her family and the upside of being Rishi Kapoor's wife. Excerpts :
The Noble Milkman
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