Remembering Shammi Kapoor and the way he yahooed into our hearts

By Neena Badhwar

Shammi Kapoor, with his inimitable style, was the Elvis Presley of Indian cinema. He was a dancing sensation of the sixties who used to steal every one’s heart with easy yet a unique style of his own. For all NRIs who are lover of the Shammi Kapoor enigma followed him loyally through his entertaining movies even while sitting thousands of miles away from India. Yes Shammi ”˜We have not seen the likes of you ever ”“ ”˜Suchch, Humne Tumsa Nahin Dekha’.

With great love and admiration for this yesteryear actor who still lives as young as ever through the cinema he portrayed as millions follow him even today across the world and not just in India. Shammi Kapoor passed away ten years ago but when you see any movie of his he is the same cheerful, handsome actor immortalised by the cinema thanks to Youtube and TV channels that screen his movies every now and then.

Shammi! we salute your life and what you gave us ”“ a desire for a life lived to its fullest. Shammi’s songs on Youtube get the maximum hits some reaching over a million hits and he is the topic of chats and comments all over the net. As we searched Shammi’s life came all rolling in like a reel, on screen and off screen.

He talks about his era, his movies, and the heroines he worked with.

Everything was unique about this star. He was young, loud, handsome and he worked with some of the top heroines of yesteryears. From Asha Parekh, Shakila, Ameeta, Rajshree, Sharmila Tagore to Saira Banu. Not only they fell for him, the whole of Indian youth too who followed Shammi crooning his songs. Kashmir’s tourism went berserk after ”˜Junglee’ and ”˜Kashmir Ki Kali’. Every one wanted to see the place and take a ride in the ”˜Shikara’, the boats on Dal lake, like Shammi as he wooed Sharmila with ”˜Taarif karoon kya uski jisne tumhe banaya’.

In an interview on receiving the ”˜Life Time Achievement Award’, Shammi Kapoor’s message to all there trying to make it in the film industry was, “It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of competition. While I was slightly gifted, it’s two percent luck and 98 percent hard work. Hard work is very important but the two percent luck goes a long way.”

Said Shammi, “I started in acting very young. At the age of 18 I was in theatre and by 21, I was acting in movies. And I only stopped in 2004 when I fell ill,”

“Being the son of Prithvi Raj Kapoor and brother of Raj Kapoor, people are bound to expect great things out of you and set you up against a standard and style which was set by my brother and my father. I remember the first critic’s opinion writing ”˜Shammi Kapoor apes Raj Kapoor’. It hurt me a lot. I didn’t understand what ”˜aping somebody’ meant. I was from the same school of acting. My father was an actor, brother too and then I married Gita Bali who was a star in her own right. But it became a challenge for me to set my own style.”

“For first few years in movies like ”˜Rail Ka Dibba’, ”˜Laila Majnu’, ”˜Mirza Sahiban’, ”˜Mehbooba’ and others I wore wigs, moustache, costumes and did what I was asked. But I was desperate to find my own self image and felt the need to change.”

“Then one day I shaved off my moustache, cut my hair into crew cut and there grew the ”˜Yahoo’ image when I did ”˜Tumsa Nahin Dekha’ and ”˜Junglee’ which became the turning point in my life,” said the veteran, the evergreen star of the golden era of Bollywood who will stay with us for ever.

“I created a style full of rhythm, full of beat, very strenuous someone who identified with the youth. I am very fond of music, lot of fun, and dance. There’s no need to choreograph my songs as I didn’t know myself what I was going to do next. I would do a lot of shots which were off beat, half beat, a quarter beat, a lot of my own beats. I’d leave the shot in a haphazard manner, leave it too loose, they will have to be able to cut it or not be able to cut it properly.”

“I did simple type of movies, romantic comedies. Boy meets girl, boy woos girl, chases girl. Girl and boy sing songs eventually, she accepts the boy, then the villain stops all that, takes the girl away, in between you sing 8-9 songs, boy meets the girl back again, a complete picture which was something that you take your family and kids to, eating popcorn in the hall and come back home and say ”˜Yes all ended well!’

About Mohammed Rafi, says the thespian, “I was very fortunate that I got Rafi Saab as my playback singer. He was like a child. He used to get thrilled when he’d sing for me. I’d go to him and tell him, “Rafi Saab, I’m going to do this, and I am going to jump there, leap there. He’d be like a baby and used to get surprised and shocked and used to say. ”˜O My God! Really you are going to do all that’.”

Reminiscing about ”˜Junglee’ song with Saira Banu says Shammi in an interview, “We went there in February when it was snowing. We went to Simla and it was one of those rare occasions when it snowed continuously for five days as we were holed up in the hotel. There was 8-9 feet of snowfall all around in Kufri. For days it was cloudy and we couldn’t shoot. I used to sledge away into the snow. In the process I had worked out what I wanted to do with the song. The sixth day turned out be sunny and beautiful, we just shot the song in one day as I had rehearsed it over and over again and knew exactly what I wanted to do. And the rest is history of course!”

“With Junglee, Subodh Mukherjee, the producer, and me knew that we had something special, something different, very basic. And it was in colour. Saira Banu was playing the lead with me and it was her first picture. It was nothing new for me. I had been with Asha Parekh in ”˜Dil Deke Dekho’, with Ameeta in ”˜Tumsa Nahin Dekha’, Ragini in ”˜Mujrim’. So lots of new ones were to come in the future. ”˜Junglee’ turned out to be the hit of the year as whole of India yahooed”¦”

While doing ”˜Kashmir Ki Kali’ I asked the music director, O P Nayyar, “Nayyar Saab at the end will you wind up with the fine lines which we call ”˜mukhda’ in the song ”˜Tareef karun kya uski’ and repeat those lines 8-10 times. And I suggested to Rafi Saab the same thing.” Nayyar Saab said, “don’t be stupid”¦people will get bored”¦it would be repetitious and linger on”¦” I said, “No give me chance”¦I will give a different version to every line you sing right up to the end”¦all in different styles. I asked Rafi Saab to build the pitch up as he went”¦ and he did.”

“In October 1972 my friend and partner suggested that I go into direction and he brought me the script of ”˜Irma La Deuce’ which I directed as ”˜Manoranjan’. It was a hit. I enjoyed the experience but then it became too much for me when I did ”˜Bundalbaaz’ ”“  a children film which did not even finish. So I gave up directing. And I took to playing character roles.”

“I am not into rat race any more. I have seen it all, done it all. I don’t feel the need to do anything. No need to go anywhere. I am peaceful where I am!” he said when interviewed on his 77th birthday.

Alas this handsome, suave actor is with us no more but he lives in us through his screen charisma, his movies, youthful as ever and to tell you the truth this article is all from the internet, of what he said in various interviews and what his fans have commented.

Shammi! you will live forever as your fans have immortalised you. We will love you always.

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