Friday, June 01, 2007
How the Rishi-Neetu engagement came about is a story by itself. There was a wedding in the family of Ritu Nanda, Rishi's elder sister in Delhi which the entire family was attending. Neetu was invited too. Once there, everyone decided that there cannot be a more opportune moment to announce their engagement. But Rishi made silly excuses. That's when elder brother Randhir Kapoor made him see reason. He asked him pointed questions. "Do you want to get married and have children?" Rishi: "Yes." Do you love Neetu? Rishi: "Yes." Would you rather marry someone else? Rishi: "No." So what the hell is your problem? Rishi: "Nothing."
Randhir went out and made the announcement. The family was delighted. They phoned Neetu's mother Rajee Singh to come to Delhi immediately. And the same evening Rishi and Neetu were engaged. Said a radiant Neetu, "I don't know who ordered my saree and who decided my jewellery but somebody was doing my make-up and somebody else painted my nails. I could see that I was being overdressed but I was too overwhelmed to protest. I felt it's not gracious of a young fiancee to make suggestions to her new in-laws. I wore a peach chiffon, a colour that doesn't suit me and was as nervous as hell! Rishi caught me trembling and forced a glass of champagne to me. "Calm down," he ordered, "I don't want you to make a fool of yourself today." After this, I was flying high and nothing mattered anymore."
Prior to the wedding, Raj Kapoor threw a lavish party at his Deonar bungalow. That was the first time I witnessed the much-talked about Krishna Kapoor's mehman nawazi. The lady in white was charm personified. She attended to every guest personally. Her test came when around midnight, Nargis, escorted by Sunil and Sanjay Dutt stepped into the RK lawns. Raj Kapoor, in a black suit and a red muffler, noticed them but took a while to get his act together. Krishna Kapoor had in the meanwhile taken charge. A perfect blend of warmth and restraint, she escorted her guests to her husband and after a few lingering moments left them alone.
Everyone was conscious of the '50s sensational pair amidst them. It was indeed a historic moment! Nargis was stepping inside the cottage for the first time, after two decades. Even the telephone operator who had connected to Ajanta Arts, Sunil Dutt's bungalow, to invite the couple was emotional about RK's old heroine. "After 20 years..." he said mushily. Much later, when a dear friend asked Nargis how it felt to come face-to-face with Raj Kapoor again she said, "It was like the climax of a film. We are both old, tired and with grown- up children. How could I feel with two handsome men on my either side, my husband and my son?"
The Rishi-Neetu fairy tale had further blossomed the following year. Neetu was pregnant for the first time. "Everyone tells me that I'll have a son but I feel it's going to be a girl. I've put on so much weight that my mother-in-law jokes that in all probability I will deliver twins. It does not matter whether it is a boy or a girl, what is important to me is that my child is well-educated and well-behaved. I'm grateful that we are still living in the Chembur home. It would have been tough all by myself with a new-born. It's so much more reassuring to be with the family."