Shashi richly de­serves Dadasa­heb Phalke Award

A heart­felt trib­ute to the true soul of Bol­ly­wood.

Alive - - Content - by K.V. Venu­gopal

The vet­eran Bol­ly­wood ac­tor Shashi Kapoor is no more. One has to ac­cept the re­al­ity. He suc­cumbed to his ill­ness in the hospi­tal at Mumbai on 4 De­cem­ber 2017. It was not sur­pris­ing, as the 79-year-old vet­eran ac­tor was un­well for quite some time. As the son of il­lus­tri­ous Pri­tivi­raj Kapoor and the proud brother of show­man Raj Kapoor and the Ya­hoo Shammi Kapoor, Shashi with his stun­ningly beau­ti­ful look and boy­ish ap­peal had cap­tured the hearts of the film-lovers within no time. Shashi, who

be­gan his ca­reer with Raj Kapoor’s Awara, as a 12year-old boy, had carved out a niche for him­self in films. His che­quered ca­reer in the tin­sel world needs no in­tro­duc­tion, as he had acted in more than 175 films. Not for noth­ing, the ro­man­tic hero was looked at awe and ad­mi­ra­tion by a large num­ber of movie fans in the yes­ter­year. The1951re­leased film had cre­ated a last­ing im­pact even in the then Soviet Union, as

Pan­dit Jawa­har­lal Nehru re­called, how the Rus­sians used to sing the ti­tle song be­fore him, Awara hoon, Awara hoon, a lovely Mukesh num­ber for Raj Kapoor, who had grown up from a lit­tle lad Shashi Kapoor.


Shashi Kapoor was one of the pop­u­lar ac­tors in 1960s and 1970s. He him­self said that he con­sid­ered the pe­riod in 1960s as the most en­joy­able and pro­duc­tive one for him. The ac­tor is per­haps right, as films in 1960s fo­cused on ro­mance and love sto­ries rather than the po­lit­i­cal and so­cio-eco­nomic is­sues that dom­i­nated the tin­sel world in 1950s. He be­lieved in nat­u­ral act­ing and never tried to over­step his lim­its. Shashi, like his late broth­ers Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor had pen­chant for com­edy. Like his broth­ers, he was not averse to add his in­put to the com­edy to his hero-ori­ented roles in films.

A mea­sure of Shashi Kapoor’s tal­ent is his abil­ity to dis­ap­pear and let the costar walk away with the scene, the song, the movie.

For in­stance, in Raj Kapoor’s Satyam Si­vam

Sun­daram, the hero re­alised that the cen­tre of at­trac­tion in the film was the heroine ‘Zeenat Aman’. Rightly, Shashi had de­cided to play sec­ond-fid­dle to her, though he tried to do more than ad­e­quate jus­tice in the song chan chal ko­mal , ren­dered beau­ti­fully by the late Mukesh. He did not find it wise to med­dle in the di­rec­tion of his brother Raj Kapoor. A large num­ber of movie-go­ers after watch­ing the film said Shashi was look­ing more like a co­me­dian than a hero, es­pe­cially in a scene when he was scream­ing and hunt­ing for Zeenat in tor­ren­tial down­pour.

Like­wise, in the film ‘Dee­war’ his role was lim­ited, com­pared to Amitabh Bac­chan. He, how­ever, had no re­grets when he later said “al­though the film re­volved around Amitabh, the pow­er­ful di­a­logues of script writ­ers Salim-Javed had cre­ated a vi­able im­pact for his role. For ex­am­ple, film fans even to­day rec­ol­lect his di­a­logue in Dee­war mere paas ma

hai (my mother is with me) to the query of Amitabh, mere paas, gaadi, bangla, bank bal­ance hai, there paas kya hai. (I am pos­sess­ing, car, Bun­ga­low, and bank bal­ance, what do you have?) Shashi also rec­ol­lected a scene with the vet­eran ac­tor A.K. Han­gal in the same film that paid him rich div­i­dends, al­though Dee­war mostly re­volved around Amitabh’s mag­i­cal voice and ma­jes­tic pres­ence.

Shashi Kapoor, like Ra­jesh Khanna was not fond of in­dulging in fight­ing scenes. Like the late su­per­star, he con­sid­ered him­self as a ro­man­tic hero. But, when­ever the sit­u­a­tion war­ranted, he was not hes­i­tant to have a fisticuff with the wrong-do­ers. In

Kala Pat­tar a scene was added for him to con­front the anti-so­cials, which was un­think­able in 1960s. When

multi-star­rer films be­came pop­u­lar with the pub­lic in 1970s, Shashi did not let his en­thu­si­asm lose to grasp the op­por­tu­ni­ties. Though he re­alised that films like

Kabhi Kabhi and Tr­ishul gave more op­por­tu­ni­ties to Amitabh, he did not let his pres­ence go un­no­ticed. The man­ner in which he im­presses Hema Malini in Tr­ishul with a sense of hu­mour in a par­tic­u­lar scene had be­come the talk of the town. Like­wise, the man­ner in which he cau­tions Amitabh for med­dling in his fam­ily af­fair with, aap ke paas ye chabi keise aaya (how did you get this key?) had im­pressed the au­di­ence, though Shashi was re­quired to com­pete with not only Amitabh, but also of the late San­jeev Ku­mar in Tr­ishul. Shashi never re­gret­ted for act­ing in multi-star­rers, as he re­alised that in 1970s, the era had changed.

Women­folk in gen­eral ad­mit­ted to a crush on Shashi Kapoor with com­ments like “so cute and stun­ningly beau­ti­ful,” fol­lowed by a liq­uid sigh. How­ever, things never re­ally got out of hand or be­low-the-belt. The yes­ter­year heroine Sharmila Tagore said “she was bowled over by the hand­some look of Shashi in the sets of Aa gale Lagja, but she has­tened to add that she was ir­ri­tated over his chat­ter­box at­ti­tude. With Shashi, you imag­ine a pho­to­graph and the face out­lined with a lip­stick heart. Like­wise, Hema Malini, too said that she ad­mired the beauty of Shashi, al­though she was im­pressed more by the manly ap­pear­ance of her hus­band Dhar­men­dra. The harsh re­al­ity has dawned on the ac­tor that when Ra­jesh Khanna era was in progress, he had no place, es­pe­cially among the women. The film lovers' in­1970s were en­am­oured over Ra­jesh Khanna's mag­netic ap­peal, ir­re­spec­tive of age and gen­der. The ac­tor Sharmila Tagore said that, not only his kurtha dress, even many peo­ple changed their car num­bers that matched up the num­ber of Ra­jesh. Some women were of the opin­ion that Shashi was an or­na­men­tal pres­ence and his good looks came in the way of be­ing looked into with se­ri­ous­ness.

Shashi Kapoor was never in the rank­ing of Ra­jesh Khanna and Amitabh Bac­chan, let alone Dhar­men­dra and Su­nil

Dutt, and yet, he was one of the most suc­cess­ful leading

ac­tors in 1960s and 1970s. His solo hit ration was not great, and yet he just kept mak­ing movie after movie after movie. Some films like his de­but as a hero in Jab

Jab Phool Khile, fol­lowed

by Kanyadan, Pyar Ka Mausam, and Sharmilee, among oth­ers, were worth re­mem­ber­ing. How­ever, a ran­dom se­lec­tion of his mid-70s movies like Jai Ba­jrang Bali, Naach Uthe Sansaar, Far­ishta Ya Qatil,

Hira Aur Patthar had not stood him in good stead, even though films like

Ab­hinetri and Chori Mera Kaam did well at box of­fice. The ac­tor’s re­la­tion­ship with Ra­jesh Khanna soured when he had the mor­ti­fi­ca­tion of wait­ing for him in the stu­dio from morn­ing 7’o’ clock till late in the af­ter­noon for the film

Prem Ka­hani. Shashi, after

all, was a stick­ler for punc­tu­al­ity and found it hu­mil­i­at­ing to make an­other star ac­tor wait­ing for hours to­gether in the shoot­ing sched­ule. From that day on­wards, he was wary of do­ing any other film with Ra­jesh. How­ever, his re­la­tion­ship with Amitabh was strength­ened when he heard that the su­per­star re­fused to ac­cept a film from a pro­ducer who had de­cided to re­place him. Shasi was im­mensely pleased with Amitabh’s ges­ture and he paid his grat­i­tude to him when a pro­ducer wanted him to do the role of Amitabh in an­other film. He event went to the ex­tent of say­ing “Amitabh is bet­ter than the best.”


It is eas­ier to un­der­stand the “classy” part of his ca­reer – the Mer­chant Ivory Films, the art-house movies like Junoon, 36 Chowringee

Lane, Ka­lyug, Vi­jeta and Ut­sav, among oth­ers, Shashi Kapoor pro­duced. The ac­tor, after his sen­sa­tional pres­ence in the English movie,

Shake­speare­wala just seemed like that kind of a man, a West­ern kind of guy with their sen­si­bil­i­ties. Was not that why he mar­ried Jen­nifer, who gave a splen­did per­for­mance in 36 Chowringee Lane, de­pict­ing the plight of the An­glo In­di­ans. It is not dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand the films like ‘New Delhi Times’ and ‘In Cus­tody, which came from a rel­a­tively nat­u­ral­is­tic mould of Shashi Kapoor. He did solid work in these films. A mea­sure of his tal­ent is his abil­ity to dis­ap­pear and let the co-star walk away with the scene, the song and the movie. His bad movies were re­ally bad – he was prob­a­bly too much of an ac­tor to do the things a star can do to save a bad movie. It will be eas­ier to re­call a few dozen shabby movies that his el­der brother Shammi Kapoor or his nephew Rishi Kapoor acted than the bad ones Shashi was in. How­ever, a lot of money Shashi made from the hor­ri­ble films went into pro­duc­ing good cinema that sounded good at least on pa­per. For in­stance, if we did not end up watch­ing the film Ajooba, the film crazy fans would have thought it is a pretty cool movie.

Shashi Kapoor was con­ferred with Dadasa­heb Phalke Award. The renowned ac­tor made his de­but in Ra­jkapoor’s ev­er­green Awara in 1951 as a 12-year-old boy. The old­timers would still love to re­call his di­a­logue mu­jhe ek

roti do, with tears rolling down on his checks after get­ting caught while steal­ing the dish from a res­tau­rant to feed his starv­ing Mother. What is sur­pris­ing was how com­fort­able Shashi Kapoor seemed in the cheer­fully loud and large-hearted Hindi films of the six­ties and seven­ties, some­thing the film lovers wanted to as­so­ciate more with ya­hoo Shammi Kapoor. For ex­am­ple, the song Ek raasta hai zindagi from the

film Kaala Pathar, is re­ally a Shammi song. Like­wise, the song Neina mi­lakar Chain jo chu­raye in the film Hasina Maan Jayegi re­sem­bles Shammi’s an­tics. Sim­i­larly, the song Khenesse­nagi bhaat, ram­lal zind­abad in Pyar Kiya Jha re­minds the au­di­ences of his brother. Shashi, like the Kapoor Kan­dan fam­ily was en­ergy in­car­nate and made for bounc­ing around our screens.


Shashi puts the ac­tor at the cen­tre of the num­ber in the song Likhe jo kath tu­jhe, o tere yaad me, hazare ban­gaye, nazare ban­gayae, sav­era jab­hua, o phool bhangaye in the film Kanyaadan a fab­u­lous song from the silken and im­mor­tal voice of Mo­hammed Rafi. Shashi did not grum­ble when Rafi’s lilt­ing num­ber over­took his per­for­mance as a ro­man­tic hero. In the film Sharmilee, the song Kaise Ka­hen hum, pyarme humto, kya kya kek thikaye, tusharu­maye, was sung mem­o­rably by the mer­cu­rial ge­nius Kishore Ku­mar. The ac­tor was not found want­ing in emot­ing sor­row­ful look ef­fec­tively, and at the same time, putting on a brave face to his friends with a sheep­ish smile. The scene im­plies how he had been de­ceived in love by the heroine Raa­kee. He was not just

go­ing through the mo­tions and mouthing the words, he was sim­ply look­ing for things to per­form, as the in­ter­lude emerges on. Shashi is only en­joy­ing the song. We get the sense he be­lieves in it, in this faintly ridicu­lous sit­u­a­tion that has him singing some­one else’s words in some­one else voice to a tune some­one else has com­posed. The mu­sic di­rec­tor con­cerned was none other than, Dada Sachin Dev Bur­man.

A team player

An­other ex­am­ple can be cited in Basera, where Shashi played a be­lea­guered hus­band to the heroine. He never cre­ated an im­pres­sion that the hero Shashi Kapoor has played the leading roles in his films. Rather, he al­lowed his films to be iden­ti­fied with the char­ac­ters he played. He did not grudge when some of his films had pow­er­ful roles for the hero­ines. He was bold enough to in­form that the he­roes are also hu­man be­ings and they can­not be ex­pected to fight with so many wrong-do­ers at a time. He is aware that the film in­dus­try, known for por­tray­ing the leading men as larger than life, can­not es­cape from harsh re­al­ity of­ten.

Shashi re­gret­ted for spurn­ing aside the of­fer of the film Haathi Mere

Saathi that took Ra­jesh Khanna to greater heights. The ac­tor re­vealed later that he was scared of per­form­ing with ar­ray of ele­phants around.

How­ever, the mo­ment he found that the movie be­came a su­per-hit, he ap­proached the pro­ducer Chin­nappa De­var to of­fer him an­other chance to prove his met­tle. De­var obliged, by cast­ing Shashi in his sub­se­quent ven­ture

Jaan­war Aur In­san, a re­make of the Tamil film

Vet­taikaran (hunter) with MGR in the lead. Even though, the hero, who was re­luc­tant to face the ele­phants ear­lier, was brave enough to con­front the tigers, the film did not suc­ceed at the box of­fice. Shashi only cursed his ill-luck.

The ac­tor also had to face tough com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing his time from the trio Dilip Ku­mar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, Dhar­men­dra, Jee­tendra, Su­nil Dutt, Navin Nischol, Raaj Ku­mar, Manoj Ku­mar, Shammi Kapoor, Biswa­jit, Ra­jen­dra Ku­mar, and not, but not the least from two su­per­stars Ra­jesh Khanna and Amitab Bac­chan. There is no iota of doubt that Shashi had cre­ated a style of his own and carved out a niche for him­self. The ro­man­tic hero of yes­ter­year has no re­grets, ex­cept feel­ing that he could have done bet­ter in some films. Shashi was in com­fort zone with the late heroine

Nanda, with whom he did some films like Raja Sa­heb.

Can any­one for­get Shashi’s re­ac­tion, al­beit with a ray of hope, for Rafi’s lovely melody from his pro­trud­ing neck, Ra­juthae ek­tha, raju raja, raja sahib. while he was try­ing to im­press upon the heroine in the movie.

Shashi had a won­der­ful chem­istry with the for­mer heroine and the present Ra­jya Sabha MP Sha­bana Azmi. The in­sid­ers in the film in­dus­try as­serted that the duo were close to each other for quite some time. It is also be­ing al­leged that his wife Jen­nifer tried to com­mit sui­cide after hear­ing his re­la­tion­ship with a few leading ladies around that time. Like Raj Kapoor, Shashi owes his suc­cess to the the­atres, es­pe­cially, the ‘Prithivi the­atres’, formed by his il­lus­tri­ous fa­ther ‘Prithivi­raj Kapoor’, who made his gi­gan­tic pres­ence with his amaz­ing per­for­mance as char­ac­ter

Ak­bar in the film Mu­gal-EAzam,

that took Dilip

Ku­mar to dizzy heights.

Shashi once said, al­beit in a lighter vein, that he used to play around pranks with Raj Kapoor and by cry­ing loudly for get­ting his things done dur­ing hs child­hood days. “We had ex­cel­lent ca­ma­raderie” Shashi used to re­call his bond­ing with Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor. Per­haps, he must thought of it as high time to join them in the heaven, whereto, the trio will be hav­ing count­less dis­cus­sions, if not by rolling out cham­pagne bot­tles. There is no iota of doubt that his fans and film lovers in gen­eral can­not erase from their mem­ory the pres­ence of Shashi Kapoor with his in­trin­sic abil­ity and un­canny an­tic­i­pa­tion with a bun­dle of en­ergy to make merry with his hero­ines in his films.


As ac­tor Poonam

Dhillion has rightly summed up, “Shashi was fun-lov­ing and treated ev­ery visi­tor as some­thing special. Shashi al­ways felt that 1960 was the best pe­riod for Bol­ly­wood, as it re­volved around love sto­ries, in­stead of the so­cio-eco­nomic sit­u­a­tions por­trayed in 1950s and the fisti-cuffs be­tween the he­roes and wrong-do­ers. Shashi’s con­tri­bu­tions to the film in­dus­try can­not be con­cluded, with­out the men­tion of the ac­tive as­sis­tance ren­dered by his wife Jen­nifer Kapoor. After all, not for noth­ing we say, “there is a woman be­hind ev­ery man’s life”. Shashi, too, was not an ex­cep­tion.

Shashi Kap­por in a scene with ac­tor Amitabh Bach­han.

A still from the movie Jab Jab Phool Khile.

A still from movie Aa Gale Lagja.

Shashi Kapoor and Rakhee in Kabhi Kabhi.

The fi­nal jour­ney of a su­perb ac­tor.

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