RIP Kamal Kapoor

I just heard from his granddaughter that blue-eyed Kamal Kapoor, one of my favorite character actors, passed away on Monday at the age of 90. He had a versatile career spanning fifty years and hundreds of films, from his debut in Dak Bangla (1947) through the late 1990s. Probably his best-remembered role is from 1978’s Don where he played Narang.

Another legend and filmi family member is gone: may he rest in peace.

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74 Comments to “RIP Kamal Kapoor”

  1. RIP, Kamal Kapoor saab.
    I saw him in a movie just the other day “Johar Mehmood in Goa”.
    Though we know it is inevitable that all these oldtimers will leave us one by one, it still feels sad when it happens.
    The good thing is that they leave us with their legacy and a lot of good memories.

  2. I was just about to send a note to you Memsaab, yes indeed very sad piece of news, he will surely be missed.

    Me and ma buddy been watching all his movies we cud get our hands on, we started from Phil Subha Hogi (1958) and went on and on. A regular in all Johor Mehmood Series.

    May his soul RIP and may his family get all the courage to get over this difficult period.


    • He is one of the first so-called “character” actors I ever noticed, he was so distinctively handsome and yet could be really creepy too :) He played a lot of different roles, and always was a compelling onscreen presence.

      • Just look at the stats-
        Number of movies acted in – over 600 in 3 different languages – Hindi, Punjabi and Gujrati

        Amazing feat, a long standing soldier indeed, def needs to be remembered by our Industry, but we for one will not forget him, recall his playing dad to Mumu in Chor Machaye Shor.

        Every performance a class act.

  3. May he rest in peace! 90 years, 600 films, a long innings indeed. Such a distinctive face, voice, eyes. I hope he doesn’t miss the arc lights too much.

  4. RIP Kamal Kapoor. So handsome in that debut film pic.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, yours is truly a phenomenal site Greta. Given how in all of the older movies the ensemble cast was so much a factor in how the final product came out, it’s a crying shame that today’s celebrity obsessed Bollywood doesn’t give a fig for them. To call him Kamal Khan (who I believe is a loudmouth actor in Bhojpuri cinema) is the outside of enough!

    And it’s wonderful that their families know how much love they inspire in us ‘oldies’ fans through your blog. Loved the Tarun Bose series by his daughter and the earlier ones on K.N. Singh and Ted Lyons, etc.

    ML :-)

  5. I would love to do more of it!!!! Asked Lushoo (Kapoor) if she would want to write a post on her grandfather too, and she said she would love to when she has time. I’ll keep pestering her :)

  6. “Mid-day is the only publication I’ve seen that has even acknowledged it, and they called him Kamal KHAN.”

    Funny, while watching “Raj Kumar” yesterday (terrible, terrible print), I was thinking why doesn’t Bollywood treat their classics with the same reverence that Hollywood does (remastered DVD’s, TCM, etc.)

    I thought that at least the actors would get that credibility, but I guess not. Also, strange that he died after I finally learned his name after watching so many movies- ah the timing!

    Anyway, great comedian, RIP.

    BW classics need a TCM of their own!

      • :) He played lots of different types of roles, many of them villainous, but he was adept at everything!

      • For some reason, I forgot that he played a lot of villainous roles even though that’s mostly what I’ve seen him as.

      • @rmb His performances in Seeta Aura Geeta and Johar-Mehmood in Goa stand out to me.

        Plus I always thought he was funny one way or another in all his roles- makes him much more entertaining.

    • I think the closest we have to a TCM for old Indian movies is Doordarshan. They still show a movie (split over 2 or 3 parts) every week, if I am not mistaken. Mon/Tue/Wed, late evening.

      I remember seeing Phagun and Humrahi (both B/W) in March this year.

      Star Gold used to play this role when it started years ago (I think even the name “gold” came with that in mind) but of late, “gold” for them has begun to mean Amitabh in the 1980s. Everything is relative, I guess.

      One can argue that people interested in old stuff can always pull in the form of DVDs/VCDs instead of a push in the form of TV broadcasting but there is something special about watching an old film on TV – very different from the experience of watching a DVD.

      It is like listening to radio vs listening to your mp3 player. :-)

      • Well not to mention that the only way I have been able to see quite a few old films is through people who have videotaped it from Doordarshan and made it available as an avi or dvd rip online. They are not otherwise available, and apparently not valued enough anyway to treat well when they are put on dvd or vcd. I just keep repeating myself, don’t I? :)

      • I agree with you. But for those that argue that one can find classic in the form of VCD’s/DVD’s, I can simply counter back with “how can you find something you don’t know exists?”

        Plus some of the classics aren’t available in digital format. I discovered a lot of gems through watching TCM, which I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

  7. RIP Kamal Kapoor, He could look benign or creepy with equal ease. He used his light eyes to remarkable effect. He will be missed.

  8. @Forlorn Rage: It’s really bad, how neglected the films, the people who worked in the industry for decades, the entire history of cinema in India is. Unfortunately, nobody with the means to do something about it seems to care.

    • I am sure Doordarshan has a tremendous treasure trove in its archives which is slowly rotting. I have seen classic movies, classical dance and song performances by masters, which dont seem to be available anywhere else.

      They need to make these classics available on DVD, there are any number of bright kids out there who can help them for a fee. AND several who would do it gratis just for the love of it. I could help for free.

  9. This is bad- Its been such a sad 2 years! Someone or the other I really love from Bollywood keeps passing away :( Condolences, all.

  10. Another wonderful chapter closed. RIP Kamal Kapoor. He was really a good character actor.

  11. Sad News indeed. I just watched him for the upteenth time in ‘Don’ this Sunday. 2010 is turning out to be an end of era kind of year.

  12. RIP Kamal Kapoor.
    I’m glad we discuss all character actors with such love and in such detail here. (Thanks to memsaab).

    And when they pass away, we feel.

    I hope his grand daughter will post here as soon as she feels better.

  13. RIP Kamal Kapoor. What a great character actor, he really carved out a niche for himself as a dad, a top cop, and of course as a villain, with his eyes and distinctive voice… I’ll always remember him as Narang from Don.

  14. dont forget his roles in pakeeza,mard,jab jab phool khile,hum kise se kam nahin etc etc he was great

  15. Like others, I’ll always remember him in Don…especially the song Jiska Mujhe Tha Intezar where Zeenat sings to Amitabh with Kamal Kapoor standing prominently behind him wearing his red blazer.

    • Hey now he and Macmohan can hang out together again :)

        • Folks

          quite a similar situation where KK is watching when Shashi and Mumu are singing…..was it…
          le jayege dilwale dulhaniya le jayage- Chor Machaye Shor (1974) .

          KK expressions in the song are simply deadly.

          And in Johor Mehmood in Goa as Police Supdt. Alburqueue , IS and Bhai Jaan really pulled his leg, and we saw him iN all of IS series later, he really made an impression with these guys.

          Cheers .)

  16. Oh I would have never even known about it had it not been for your blog, Memsaab. And it’s true that the reverence the Indian film industry has for the classics borders on ridicule.

  17. RIP Kamal Kapoor! He was such a great character actor. His eyes and voice were so distinct! I first noticed him in DON and in all the other movies of his I watched, I always kept referring to him as Narang.
    Few movies of his that come into my mind are – Do Quaidi, Indrajeet, Meri Jung, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Amar Akbar Anthony, Deewar, Ek Muthi Aasmaan, Gora Aur Kala, Seeta aur Geeta, Raaz, Sacha Jhoota, Don, Mard, Pakkezah, Sanam Teri kasam, Mard etc…And everytime I think of him, I somehow imagine him in a police officer’s uniform.
    @ Raja : Yes, doordarshan still shows old films, split over 3 parts on Mon-Tue-Wed from 11PM to 12 Am. It’s called Bioscope. And they also air old movies on Sunday afternoon at 12. Zee Classic airs some good movies but they keep repeating the same movie too often. It’s in the late night when they show some good old movies, but that’s very late..starts at around 2-2:30 AM!

  18. Oh noooooo! Gad what a week.

  19. Thank you memsaab for informing us about this great legend. For me he is like one of the family members, always there in most movies I have seen. I think 90 is a great innings in life with his kind of awesome achievements. My
    condonlences to his family.

  20. H Hey memsaab, just checked the Kamal Kapoor website set up by his family and discoved Ravindar Kapoor Kamal Kapoor’s brother in one of the photos. I have seen Ravindar Kapoor in a number of movies and always wondered who the actor was. I think he was there in Caravan as Jeetendar’s buddy and quite a few movies.

  21. The name Kamal Kapoor did ring a bell, when I saw an RSS alert in my mailbox. However, I was not able to relate it to a face :-)

    Thanks very much, Greta. May his soul RIP.

    There are so many character actors/actresses about whom we do’t know much at all. One actor who comes distinctly to my mind is the actor who played the Police Inspector’s role in Saajan (1969) starring Manoj Kumar Asha Parekh, Omprakash, Madan Puri and others. He’s appeared in quite a few movies, but all I know is that his surname is Mehra.

    Same for regular fixtures in Hrishida’s movies – Ramu Kaka (in Anand – 1971, the office colleague (in Bawarchi – 1972) or his college friends (Satyakaam – 1969).

    I know you have a ‘identify the actor’ project somewhere in this blog. Maybe its time for another quiz on this :-)

    • Shalini that is indeed the wonderful RAJ MEHRA, what an innings he has also had,yet forgotten. 150, perhaps many many more.

      Watch him in the super comedy Chacha Zindabad 1959 , what a jodi he made as buddies and pals then foes with another g8 Om Prakash Saheb( who also co wrote it)), it is a rollickin’ musical movie, see the star cast

      Kishore Kumar
      Anita Guha
      Master Bhagwan
      Anoop Kumar
      Raj Mehra
      Om Prakash
      Tun Tun

      It has that ONE OF THE MANY ever greens-

      bach gaye ham donon fanste fanste

      And our KK, one movie which again needs watching is Miss Coca Cola, he is there and this movie needs watching for many other observations also, it is def coming out.

      And it wud be nice to know if KK indeed was the main hero in the Aspi Irani’s Pardesi Mehmaan (1948).

      Am gonna check with buddy Trini bro today if he has this.

      KK aka Supremo as in Aamne Samne (1982), you will be missed but not forgotten.


  22. RIP Kamal Kapoor.

    A question. Is he the same Kamal Kapoor who was there in “Taqdeer” (1967).

    • Yep yer spot on sqcutaul .), KK is our man, played Vijay Babu, movie is available luckily, again ask me, I loved it.. now is there any oldies I do not like.. let me think… sry none .)

      Cheers .)

  23. Oh how awfully sad. May he rest in peace!

    My most memorable role of KK is as the Nawab in Pakeezah – esp in the songs Thare rahiyo and Chalte Chalte. No dialogues there but his face is so very expressive – and I think the cameras constantly zoom in on them. His admiration for Sahibjaan (Meena Kumari) is clear – and for her ghazals.

    Another role I remember is in Chor machaye shor as Mumtaz’s father. I didn’t know he did any comedy. Mostly I’ve seen him either as a villian or a kindly father – as in Amar Akbar Anthony.

    Truly a great actor – and very good looking too. Much more than his son Shakti Kapoor. :)

  24. RIP Kamal kapoor i remember him from way too many films to count

  25. I felt sad reading your blog on the passing away of Kamal Kapoor. Among many movies, I remember seeing him in ‘DON’ distinctly and was impressed by his performance. May his soul rest in peace.

    Doordarshan screens old movies titled ‘Bioscope’ but these are heavily censored. Zee Classic is another channel which viewers can look forward to for watching old movies 24/7.

    Thanks for renewing our interest in old movies through your blog.

  26. That is so sad :'(
    I’m sure he will be missed greatly – he was such an awesome character – he is in MOST of my favourite hindi films!!
    What a wonderful person – R.I.P

  27. So another chapter closes in the film industry. This reminds me of the recent demise of Manohari Singh, R.D.Burman’s chief assistant and a master saxophone player. He was active till the end and was one of the most venerated musicians in the industry

  28. Yes, it’s not just actors we are losing left and right but other contributors too…so many people go into the making of a film and its music!

  29. Awww, what sad news. Chalte chalte unhi koi mil gaya tha… Sigh.

  30. Zee Classic, along with its sister channels Zee Premiere and Zee Action, is a paid channel and is available on Dish TV and Sun Direct. This channel screens old classic movies with a single break of two minutes. Happy watching.

    • Yes I saw a lot of old movies through satellite when I visitied India last December. If I remember right, Zee Action was practically a dedicated Dharmendra channel (Dharmendra in his Z-movie phase). There was also 9X? with old songs I liked, Star Gold etc…

  31. I just watched him in Aag, playing Raj Kapoor’s father (and Shashi Kapoor’s father earlier in the film). Doing the math, he was only a few years older than Raj Kapoor. He was very good in that role… And yes, he did look creepy at times!

    And in reference to some comments above, oh yes, he was great in Pakeezah.

    RIP Kamal Kapoor.

  32. Shammi Kapoor-ji posted on Twitter:

    On way home after attending choutha of my uncle, actor Kamal Kapoor. He was one of the handsomest of the Kapoor clan.

    Does anyone know how Kamal was his uncle?

  33. Sad to know that kamal kapur is no more. I was looking about him on wikipedia for many years. Still do not know where he lived and breathed his last. He always had a strong screen presence. His soul rest in peace.

  34. I just learnt of this news by accident discussing him with some friends. He was our neighbour and I was a kid at that time. I have some very fond memories of those times, and would love to get in touch with his children. He had two daughters and three sons. Ofcourse the names I know them by were pet names and would make no sense mentioning them here. Since I am in India on a short visit and in Bombay – I would like to contact the children or grand-children. Any way you can help me ! Would appreciate that.

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