Balbir Prithviraj Kapoor aka Shashi Kapoor was born in THE Kapoor clan which had greats like his father Prithviraj, brothers Raj and Shammi. The father had a towering personality both physically and by reputation! Raj Kapoor proved to be the showman par excellence and proved his mettle through his career. Shammi was Shammi who was years ahead of time, his flamboyance was ahead of many international stars! To shine amongst such personalities in the family is what shows how Shashi Kapoor was different! Shashi Kapoor was the debonair, handsome person with a personality not matching the film industry. In those days the filmy guys hardly completed school but Shashi had picked elegance, sophistication and elan to match the international stars.
Since Shashi Kapoor was a film personality, I am pushing videos of a couple of songs from his movies, though they are irrelevant, as is done in any movie!
Here is one song from the movie Jab Jab Phool Khile!
Shashi as a human being was people’s person. I had an opportunity to see him from about 10 feet distance a couple of times; once during the shooting of the film Chor Machaye Shor and another time when he was the chief guest for musical competition in Pune while I was in college. Both the times he never appeared to have airs of the film hero that he was! He appeared to be easily chatting and doing gapshap with people around.
I have seen Devanand, Waheeda Rehman, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt and Rakesh Roshan from close quarters. But the smartness and elegance Shashi displayed probably only Waheeda came near to him! My friend and actor Dr. Mohan Agashe said, “The films did not and could not really capture the real handsome that Shashi Kapoor was!” I am sure that when you see or meet someone in person energy oozes out of some persons. If a person is really a good person, there is some aura created; especially in case Shashi this happened as he was very good looking too! The slightly crooked teeth he had added to his personality!
In the decade of 40’s and 50’s the film actors did not have much education nor did they get opportunities for education. In spite of that Shashi had great sophistication and was a natural. Especially in foreign locale, his savoir faire (the ability to act or speak appropriately in social situations) was to be seen to be believed. According his costar Simi Garewal, she was always astonished to see Shashi at great ease in foreign countries. She has shared one story. They were in Italy in a restaurant for dinner. One lady saw them; she just left her husband in his seat and ran towards Shashi. It was a very embarrassing situation as husband came and there was a big shouting match between husband and wife. Shashi somehow was all sophistication personified and resolved the issue very smoothly. Still the wife gave him a flying kiss while going away! Shashi just chuckled!
One song from his movie Pyar Kiye Ja!
Shashi married Jennifer Kendal and she became his life’s anchor! They had a great marriage and had three children. Jennifer’s father and Jennifer were from Shakespeare drama school and Shashi could do things to his liking in their company. He did some of his semi art movies 36 Chauranghi Lane, Siddharth, Junoon during that phase. None of them of course made much money. He started Prithvi theater which he thought was his life’s greatest achievement.
To make money he worked in typical Hindi films. He had a great partnership and camaraderie with Amitabh Bacchan. They did so many movies together that it was jokingly said that Amitabh had Shashi’s power of attorney with him! मेरे पास मेरी मा है! This is the famous dialogue by Shashi from the movie Deewar! In commercial films this was during Shashi’s peak. He did many films, danced and sang many songs but I am not sure that his heart was really in it! This is the commercial reality of his life. He looked a bit awkward while dancing and running around the trees.
Shashi also had humane side which was not known to many. Journalist Khalid Mohmad has shared a few gems. He would go for breakfast to Shashi’s home, a typical British Breakfast courtesy Jennifer! Shashi made sure that guests preferences were perfectly managed, and bacon was never included! Khalid in his initial phase would be short of funds like everyone else. Shashi brought him a box full of socks from Harrods on his next trip to London! Shashi’s driver’s daughter got married in Nashik; due to prior shooting commitments Shashi could not attend it. Shashi arranged a reception for the married couple in Mumbai later at a suitable date!
What will Shashi Kapoor be remembered for? His handsome looks, his sophistication, his humane nature? Or he will be remembered for his bright smile, fresh face? Or his persistence in running Prithvi theatre? Only time will tell!
Adios Shashi, my friend! (Somehow, I always felt that he was a friend) I know you lost the zeal to live life after Jennifer died; she was your anchor and maybe you felt rudderless! Now that you two are joined together again, show HIM the Shakespeare walla! One question you never answered. Were your British or you were a Punjabi?
Let me say al vida to you with a heavy heart and moist eyes!