Writing on films or film personalities is something not commonplace with me… though I do like watching Bollywood movies sometimes but more than that I like to follow some personalities on the internet occasionally…should I say because these are people whom I have admired as I grew up watching their films but clueless about their whereabouts today, as they’ve completely vanished from the limelight?…or since I am not regularly into movies, some times I just get curious to know what’s happening in the lives of some Bollywood celebrities with whom I had connected through some of their performances…or I was simply intrigued by them for certain truths that I learnt or read of them in the social media…and for a couple of more such reasons.
Mr. Shashi Kapoor (so also his brother the late Mr Shammi Kapoor) is one such personality…I grew up watching his films…the first one that I remember watching was ‘Sharmilee’ with co-star Rakhi Gulzar. As an eight year old and not knowing much of Hindi during those years, I barely understood the film except that the male protagonist was a good man and out of the double role played by Rakhi, one was a good female while the other one was a vamp. My connection to this film was more through it’s evergreen songs that I had heard my mom sing many a times but was getting to see a visual, for the first time. But beyond all that, what also resonated with me was the twinkling eyes of the male protagonist, whenever he smiled, the youthful charm and the good natured exuberance he exhibited in the entire film…his aura was quite charismatic (at that age I did not even know the names of actors…but only remembered them by their faces, roles they played and the persona they exhibited).
As I grew up, I went on to watch more of his films, inter-alia, kabhi kabhi, Deewar, Haseena Maan Jayegi, Basera, Pyar ka Mausam, Sindoor, Jab Jab Phool kile, doosra aadmi, Trishul etc…his personality was a perfect fit to the romantic hero / good man roles he played every time, blended well by his excellent acting skills, as so was the case of the other actor members of the Kapoor dynasty.
Mr Kapoor hailed from a family that founded filmdom in India right since the silent era of cinema onset. His father Mr. Prithviraj Kapoor was the pioneer of the Indian theatre and the Hindi film industry. The kapoor family that needs no introduction, have given the many hugely popular Hindi films and also veteran artists to film industry. They seem to beget acting skills automatically through their gene pool and needless to mention the good looks too. It would be not a matter of any wonder if any Kapoor scion comes across as good looking as well as a talented actor.
Mr. Shashi Kapoor had his own share of popularity and success in films. A leading man in most of the movies he did, he went on to establish himself as the matinee idol. His films did extremely well at the box office. Eventually when he grew older, a shift happened to second lead or side roles but again those were not one without significance. He was a thorough professional artist and his performances were well loved by the audiences. He was one of the established romantic icon of his times in the Hindi film industry.
At a personal level, he was known to be very decent with his co-stars, never throwing tantrums on the sets and always addressing each one with those smiling twinkle in his eyes and treating everyone with a kind of humility that was rare for an actor of his stature those days. Well, as they say, ‘the eyes mirror the heart of a person’…this seemed to fit well in the case of Mr. Shashi Kapoor
But beyond the extraneous visible charm, what was more noteworthy in the case of Mr. Shashi Kapoor was his personal life that I got to read. His marriage was very unconventional for those times. He must have been truly courageous enough to marry a foreign co-actor, Ms Jennifer Kendal Kapoor, who was British by origin and more saliently, older than him by a few years, since going by the Indian society those days, all these would amount to contraventions or violating the norms…but yet he went ahead with it….all for love….and the marriage remained rock solid as long as it lasted. After it ended due to her leaving for heavenly abode at an age as early as 50, post 26 yrs of matrimony and three children, he was kind of heartbroken so much so that it began reflecting on his health…he started putting on excess weight (though it did not impact his charming persona in anyway as he still continued looking handsome till the very end, though more older with passing age)…his acting in films gradually lessened though at times he did appear in senior roles…but the most striking thing was he never re-married nor was ever heard of being associated with any other woman….What a love!!!….so unlike many of his peers. I used to wonder how could someone with his background and strata be different…so matured…it was truly intriguing.
Also, Mr Kapoor, post his retirement from films led quite a reclusive existence. He was never heard of much, in the Bollywood social circles (except the family gatherings). He was never a person who created waves though he apparently shared very decent and comfortable vibes with all his co-stars. I have been reading of his age-related health issues, kidney problems, his being on the wheel-chair for the last several years and used to look up over the internet for his latest photographs much out of curiosity and follow up…he looked aged and weak but yet that charm was still very much in place…his eyes forever resonated a strength of goodness that probably came directly from the heart…apparently he seemed to be a person who spoke more with his eyes in real life too, as he did in many of his films…besides through his work.
Mr. Kapoor who breathed his last, during this week, on December 4, 2017, at an age of 79, was given a funeral with State Honours. As such, he had been bestowed with the Padma Bhushan (the third highest civilian award in the Republic of India) in 2011 and the Dadasaheb Phalke award (highest award in Indian Cinema) in 2015. Though there was not much ado on the television over his death & funeral, which is so unlike for such a popular actor (and which I presume must be a part of his last wishes, considering the reclusive life he led), when I read about the state honours, I was truly glad, though I felt he deserved better. Many celebrities and co-stars had been there to pay their last respects and seemed to remember of him with affection.
RIP Mr. Kapoor…your films would always stay in our hearts and so will your charming persona. Though we will never forget those twinkling eyes and that heartfelt smile, we hopefully learn something from the person you were and the humble life you led despite your staggering success (and in times of failures too!!!).
You will continue to live on…..