Let us remember Shashi!

Shashi Kapoor 4By Neena Badhwar

Shashi Kapoor, though now old and tired he may look, has been the most handsome, most romantic Indian actor who is etched in our Indian film memory. Even now when one comes across some of his movies on Youtube, he leaves the same impression after so many years. His movie ”˜Householder’ is one that we rediscovered lately. A Merchant Ivory film Shashi Kapoor is the young handsome teacher arranged in marriage with another legendary beautiful actress of our film industry Leela Naidu. Shashi is young, innocent trying to slowly get used to his newly wedded wife around him, a couple who are still uncomfortable yet trying to express their love for each other when they are interrupted by the arrival of Durga Khote who plays the role of Shashi’s mother in the movie.

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Then when he is seen in another vintage gem of a film ‘Mohabbat isko kehte hain’ with Nanda and him singing to her ”˜Thahriye hosh mein aa loon’ one has got to see Nanda’s face and Shashi’s romantic overtures. And when he appears in ”˜Ijazat’ with Shabana Azmi just about as a small appearance right at the end, he totally steals the show over Naseeruddin Shah, the runaway husband who meets his ex in Shabana in a railway station waiting room. Shashi is again the romantic husband of beautiful Rakhi for whom Amitabh Bacchan’s role still carries deep feelings in the movie ‘Kabhie Kabhie’. Shashi of ”˜Jab Jab Phool Khile’, of ”˜Haseena Maan Jayegi’, of ”˜Sharmeeli’, of ”˜Satyam Shivam Sundram’ left us with yet the most memorable romantic roles and his songs are still fresh when we visit him in our nostalgic moments. ”˜O meri, o meri sharmeeli’ still rings in our ears as we remember this actor of yesteryears.

Wait on! Shashi is still very much alive just a few clicks away on youtube and there he appears on our TV screen, still as handsome, still as romantic and still as young as ever. We fall in love with him over and over again. That’s the persona of Shashi Kapoor who started his journey on Indian screen as a child artist in the movie ”˜Awara’ when he played the young Raj Kapoor’s role.

Shashi Kapoor belongs to the most talented family in the Indian film industry as he created his own unique niche and an image. Being the younger of the two well known brothers, Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Balbir Prithvi RajKapoor created his own identity as he set about acting in Merchant Ivory Films (Bombay Talkies, Heat and Dust) and Conrad Rook’s ”˜Sidhartha’  with stunning Simi Grewal a screen adaptation of Herman Hesse’s novel and later Shashi bankrolled well talked about ”˜36 Chowrangi Lane’ in which his wife Jennifer acted. He also ran Prithivi Theatre   on the sides which his daughter runs even now. Having worked in English films Shashi made his own name in the west. Shashi had married Jennifer Kendall after a lot of family opposition who he had met when she was working as an actress for her father Geoffrey Kendall’s company, Shakespearean. Both Shashi and Jennifer talented stage actors vibed well and made their name in their own unique way.

Father of young Kunal and daughter Sanjana, Shashi while he hit highs of his career in commercial movies such as Deewar, Kabhie Kabhie and Trishul, he did go and try offbeat Shyam Benegal films such as ”˜Junoon’ and ”˜Kalyug’.

In Hindi cinema Shashi Kapoor acted alongside many heroines, among them notably Nanda. Their films together included commercially successful ones like ”˜Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hain’ (1965), ”˜Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare’ (1966), and ”˜Rootha Na Karo’ (1970). He acted with Raakhee in films such as ”˜Kabhi Kabhie’, ”˜Pighalta Aasman’ and ”˜Trishna’. With Sharmila Tagore he acted in films such as ”˜Aamne Samne’, ”˜Aa Gale Lag Jaa’ and ”˜New Delhi Times’. He also worked with Zeenat Aman (”˜Deewaangee’, ”˜Roti Kapda Aur Makan’, ”˜Satyam Shivam Sundaram’) and Hema Malini.

The 1986 Hindi film ”˜New Delhi Times’, directed by Romesh Sharma and based on corruption in the media, fetched Shashi Kapoor a National Film Award for Best Actor.

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Retired and much laid back Shashi was recently conferred the highest honour for his contribution to film industry and art in general the ”˜Dada Phalke Award’ on May 10, 2015 at Prithvi Theatre as the actor came in a wheelchair too frail and sick to travel to Delhi to receive the honour.

We in Sydney pay tribute to this great living legend who quietly sits and introspects his illustrious life at home in the company of his grandchildren, a life which was full of creative outbursts. And we all agree that he was the most handsome man of Indian cinema who made an indelible mark not only in India but also worldwide.

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