Legends: Shammi Kapoor

Shammi Kapoor in Ujala

Last weekend, on Sunday 14th of August, the first news to come to attention were the demise of a Bollywood actor named Shammi Kapoor. The actor was suffering from chronic renal disorder and breathed his last on 14th August, at Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai at 5:15 A.M in the morning. Almost all big names in the industry including the whole Kapoor family attended his funeral rituals. After the ceremony, everyone tweeted about it within 140 characters and carried on with their lives. Well, the actor certainly deserved more homage than just that. Here is my tribute to one of the most versatile actors of the Indian Cinema.

A lot has been talked about in industry about the ‘star-children’ making their debut in Indian Cinema. We had Sonam Kapoor (Anil Kapoor’s dauthger), then Sonakshi Sinha (Shatrugna Sinha’s daughter) making their prominent mark, then we had Prateik Babbar (Raj Babbar’s son), Imaad Shah (Naseruddin Shah’s son), Jakie Bhagnani (Vasu Bhagnani’s son), and Sharddha Kapoor (Shakti Kapoor) hitting the screens this year with their debut film and as we say this even more names like Arjun Kapoor (Boney Kapoor’s son) and Varun Dhawan (David Dhawan’s son) are getting geared up with their first films. Seeing this rush it reminds us of the question whether Indian cinema is really harboring true talent or it has just turned into a family business where in a complete new comer has no shot without a Godfather.

The stakes are high today, for the youngsters stepping in, on the platform which was build by their parents in the industry. They have to prove worthy enough for the opportunity they’ve got or else we’ve several names like Kumar Gaurav, Dimple Kapadia, Tanisha, Arya Babbar, etc who couldn’t make it despite the parental leverage. This question that the children being given undeserved opportunities just because they have privileged parents has haunted several actors like Abhishek Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, and several others. Several even got sidelined and weren’t able to achieve limelight as much as their predecessors. But here, in this story I am going to talk about a hero who despite belonging to a very well-known and well-acclaimed background, made his mark prominently and set his own space in industry. Right from dialogue delivery, dancing style to a complete aura of an actor – he had his originality in every aspect of acting. You could say that he had setup a league of his own.

Shammi Kapoor

A member of the legendary Kapoor family Shammi Kapoor was the 2nd son of the industry’s first prominent actor Prithviraj Kapoor. His elder brother, the magnificent Raj Kapoor and even his younger brother Shashi Kapoor were well known film actors of the same generation. Today we’ve 4th generation of Kapoor family working in the Indian film Industry.

Shamsher Raj Kapoor, better known as Shammi Kapoor was born on October 21st, in the year 1931 in Mumbai. Though his birthplace was Mumbai, he spend his early childhood in Kolkata as his father used to work there for time being in New Theater Studios. They later shifted to Mumbai when his father started Prithvi Theater. He completed his schooling in Mumbai and started doing drama and small theater. His father allowed him to join Prithvi Theaters as a junior artist and used to get Rs. 150 per month as a salary. No undue advantage of being a Kapoor. Treating him as a commoner made him very humble and gave him an opportunity to bring out the true actor in him. He worked there for four years and learned a lot about the world of films.

In the year 1953 he was given his first break by Mahesh Kaul’s film, ‘Jeevan Jyoti’ which co-starred Chand Usmani. He started off with serious films but soon got his right niche. Films like Tumsa Nahi Dekha, Dil Deke Dekho, Junglee, etc made him a romantic, a happy-go-lucky star. He was tall and well built, and being a Punjabi-Khatri, he had a very fair complexion like his other family members. But his green eyes and his physique made him a very handsome actor and his looks created a rage during his times. He did hard-core romantic films, drama films, murder-mysteries, etc. All sorts of films made him an extremely versatile actor. He would fit into those roles as a perfect fit and performed them flawlessly. Apart from the three I just mentioned, his famous films include films like, Dil Tera Deewana, Professor, China Town, Kashmir Ki Kali, Teesri Manzil, Rajkumar, Bluffmaster, An Evening in Paris, Bramahachari, Andaz, Vidhata, etc and several others. If you’ve not watched anyone of the movies mentioned here, don’t call yourself a Shammi Kapoor fan. All of them are timeless classics.

He received his first Filmfare award of his career for the film Brahamachari. He was well renowned as a romantic star. But unfortunately as years passed by and he aged and he started gaining weight, the moonwalk ended for him. But he just didn’t quit. He started going for the supported roles in movies and he even perfected that spot as well. He won two Filmfare awards and several nominations for Supporting roles he played in films like Vidhataa, Andaz, etc.

He had a very sound personal life as well. While he was already acclaimed as an actor, he happened to meet the actress Geeta Bali. They fell in love and eloped together and got married in a temple. They returned and informed everyone. He had beautiful son named Aditya and a daughter named Kanchan. In the year 1966, Geeta Bali caught hold of Small Pox and it proved to be fatal for her. She left Shammi Kapoor along with 2 kids. Loneliness made marry second time in 1969. His second wife was Neela Devi Gohil and she belonged to the Royal family of Bhavanagar. They were married till Shashi Kapoor passed away last week.

In last one and a half decade he did less number of films. During the course of his career, he has acted in more than 100 films and he even tried his hand at direction and made two movies. But it didn’t seem to quite work out for him. His last appearance was in a film called Sandwich in the year 2006 and there are also news that he might star in the upcoming movie named Rockstar which is being made by Imtiaz Ali, in which his grand-nephew Ranbir, is playing the lead role. But unfortunately that won’t be possible now.

Shammi Kapoor

He has faced a lot of health related issues with the passing of age. But that hasn’t bothered his spirit even a bit. He used to go for dialysis thrice a week and still managed to smile and enjoy his life. He was one actor who will always stay around in talks and was considered as one of the finest actors of Indian cinema. A true rockstar and a gem of a person! We will never forget you Shammi ji.




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