Shashi, the moon named star
Shashi, which means the moon was the heartthrob of many of us in the 70s and 80s. The sharp features and the lean figure with a mesmerising smile, Shashi Kapoor was the favourite actor of many of us, who are in the fifties now. Being the third actor son from the Kapoor family, Shashi was much interested and worked on the stage mostly. Raj Kapoor,
Shashi, which means the moon was the heartthrob of many of us in the 70s and 80s. The sharp features and the lean figure with a mesmerising smile, Shashi Kapoor was the favourite actor of many of us, who are in the fifties now. Being the third actor son from the Kapoor family, Shashi was much interested and worked on the stage mostly. Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, and Shashi Kapoor though being brothers each had a uniqueness in their personality and action. Shashi the man with his expressive eyes and charming personality can never be forgotten. Having seen him in his zenith and glory recording golden performances and assured box office returns one would never dream that he would ever get old.
Shashi started as a child artiste and worked for four films from 1948-54. He worked with Prithvi Theatres and travelled along with them. Shashi made a debut as a leading man in the 1961 film ‘Dharmputra’ and went on to appear in 116 Hindi films, including 61 films as the lead hero and 55 multi-starrers, 21 films as supporting actor and special appearances in seven films. Since 1961 he started acting in English language films, which include ‘The Householder’ and ‘Shakespeare Wallah’ and ‘Bombay Talkies’. He was the first Indian actor to go international.
Famous actress Nanda of yesteryears, who worked with Shashi in a few films said he was her favourite actor as he was expressive in his action. Shashi too regarded Nanda as one of his mentors and declared she is his favourite actor in an interview. He and his wife Jennifer Kendal worked for the ‘Shakespearean’ group before marriage. Shashi’s greatest find in his life and his life-force was Jennifer with whom he fell in love at first sight. They fulfilled their love and had three children and lead a happy married life, along with pursuing their careers in films.
He was the second highest paid actor after Dev Anand in the industry. It would be a prolonged list if I go on remembering all his hit films. His performance in ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’, and ‘Junoon’ are unforgettable. ‘Siddhartha’ (1972) was an American film based on the novel of the same name by famous German writer Hermann Hesse. It was shot in the Northern India and was directed by Conrad Rooks. The film leaves the viewers spellbound with all the actors in their peak of performance.
In 1978, he set up his production house, Film Valas, which produced critically acclaimed films such as ‘Junoon’ (1978), ‘Vijeta’ (1982), and the most appreciated ‘Utsav’ (1984). Jennifer and Shashi worked together for their films. ‘36 Chowrangi Lane’ stands as a landmark in their career. ‘Utsav’ is based on the Sanskrit play ‘Mricchakatikam’ (the clay cart) of Sudraka. Shashi plays the role of the villain ‘Shakaara’ (the king's bad brother in law) in this film. Viewers find a different Shashi in this film, who is not the lean man but a stout man playing the role. I was waiting for Shashi’s appearance all through the film and to my amazement found out that the villain is none other than Shashi.
Unlike many other film stars, Shashi was in the true sense a family man. He was a doting husband, a loving and caring father and a very good householder. His son Kunal Kapoor says that his father never worked on Sundays and they always had their three meals that day together. Actor Simi Garewal tells that Shashi and Jennifer were the best loving couple. She was not only an inspiration to him but he merged in her. All through their 26 years of marriage, they worked together for the family and profession.
Jennifer’s untimely death on her 50th year left him in deep angst and he was no more the past Shashi again. He was 46 by then.
Shashi was the third man to get the most prestigious Dadabhai Phalke Award in 2015 after his father Prithviraj Kapoor and brother Raj Kapoor. The Union Government conferred Padmabhushan in 2011 and he also won a score of awards for his performance and production. Though his sons tried to make their career in films they could not continue the same. His daughter Sanjana was married to a man outside the film world and all are happy with their families.
Shashi starred with many famous heroines like Nanda, Simi Garewal, Rekha, Rakhee and even with Jayaprada. Working as supporting actor with Amitabh did not bring down the fame of Shashi but he was applauded and received the Best Supporting Actor in ‘Deewar’. Questioned about his feel playing the supporting roles or the second lead roles, Shashi said that he was happy with his roles for the directors chose him to be the right one for them.
A committed artiste as he was and a good producer Shashi stopped acting from 1987, he hardly played a few special roles in a handful of films on the insistence of the producers and directors after that.
He was the last man of the second generation Kapoors. None can forget Shashi the most charming and the great actor who stole our hearts. Heroines loved to be cast along with him and actors wanted to be like him. The whole film industry and his fans all over the world paid a rich tribute to the veteran actor on his demise on December 4.
The song “Ek Raasta Hai Zindagi Jo Tham Gaye To Kuch Nahi’ (life is a path and if it stops nothing prevails) reminds him forever and brings us an attitude of acceptance as we heavily sigh with pursed lips and say after all its life and it has to go on. Shashi the moon named star joins the artistic firmament in permanence.