Rishi Kapoor is not one to evade questions, but he does tire of repetition. “How many times can I answer the same questions over and over again? It’s either about the role or the film? Ask me kuch alag.” So we ask him “kuch alag”. We ask him to reflect on his past ventures, like, maybe, Ranbhoomi (1991), also starring Jeetendra and Shatrughan Sinha. “Why are you reminding me about it,” he groans. “It was an awful film, which is better forgotten. Ask me something else.”

Seated with the veteran at a Juhu hotel, we’re instantly reminded about how this place was once the hotspot for stars, including him. “Yes it was, years ago. This was the happening place. Today, every memory of my life is at least 30 to 40 years old. This generation refers to me as Ranbir Kapoor’s father. That’s fine. I live in the present. I’m not one to keep saying, ‘Hamara bhi zamaana tha.’ You must move on with the time.”

Moving on in his career, however, has landed Rishi Kapoor back in time. His recent venture, 102 Not Out, sees him collaborate with an artiste he shared screen space with 27 years ago. “Amitji [Amitabh Bachchan] has played my step father-in-law, brother and buddy. Now, I am playing his son. I have been working with him for 44 years. It is not that I haven’t met him throughout these years. We catch up at social gatherings. He is a challenging and delightful actor. I consider myself a student of cinema, so I continously learn from him.”

Even though their collaboration has given the industry masterpieces like Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Naseeb (1981) and Coolie (1983), among others, Kapoor singles out Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) as a film that’s special. “People tell me today that [even] children love watching it. It is a timeless film, it is like watching Charlie Chaplin. You can watch it over and over again.”

Kapoor not only gives credit to audiences’ sensibilities when appreciating the films the like, but also points out that they are too evolved to accept poor content offered to them by filmmakers. “In the past, every film had the underlying lost-and-found theme. Every actor had at least four films that followed the ‘bachpan mein bichad gaye’ theme, and those films worked. At that time, the audience was forgiving. Today they will not accept anything. There is so much exposure,” he says, pointing towards the inevitable competition they face from Hollywood. “Viewers want chic films, interesting stories, the best popcorn and top amenities at the multiplex. Their demand is justified, given that they shell out R400 for a ticket.”

While the veteran loves to entertain those turning up at cinema halls with his acting prowess, he says they will “never” be witness to his abilities as director again. After wielding the directorial baton in 1991 for Akshaye Khanna and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer Aa Ab Laut Chalen, he confesses he’d rather “leave the stress” on set when working on a film. “An actor is a king. People will do salaam to you when you enter and exit the set. Directors or producers have to endure many hassles. I don’t want to go through the stress of acquiring great box office collections. I am 65 and have been working for over four decades. Why would I take on something more challenging than I can handle?”

Acting he says, is his passion, even if he never permitted his parents to notice how excited he was when he first harboured the thought of being an actor. When his father, the late Raj Kapoor casually spoke about including a young Rishi in his project, he was thrilled. “I ran into my room, took a sheet and started practising signing autographs. Cinema has his own charm. Movies are magical.”

It’s probably this admiration that he has for the industry that keeps him going. Even at 65, he has his hands full with his projects. He recently wrapped up Anubhav Sinha’s Mulk, and Leena Yadav’s Rajma Chawal, and will soon kickstart work on Malayalam director Jeetu Joseph’s Bollywood debut. He is also invested in the stage play based on his autobiography, Khullam Khulla.

“I have done shows in Dubai, Hong Kong, Bahrain and London. Most of the audience comprises people who are above 45 years of age, that’s a lot that has grown up watching my films, ones who know me.” But Kapoor’s is a name known across age groups. The young folk on Twitter know him as the man who can’t stop ranting. The actor has mastered the art of tackling trolls. “I keep taking panga on social media,” he smirks, adding, “But, what I tweet is straight from the heart.”