A Thorough Gentleman Actor sans Starry Egos

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In SHASHI KAPOOR ,We Lost  A Gentleman Actor of the First Order


The shy school boy with a girlish look in the film “Awaara” ( 1951) was none other than the budding actor -star Shashi Kapoor who was acting as child Raj Kapoor .  Although earlier too, he acted in two films as a child viz: “Sangram” and “Aag”,he impressed only in “Awaara”.Side by side,, he was grooming under the titulage of his stalwart thespian father Prithviraj Kapoor in “Prithvi Theatre Plays” by playing bit roles as well as continuing his academic school in Mumbai . In 1955 when I was studying in Nagpur, the inimitable Prithvi Raj ji had come to stage his play “Deewar”. At the end of the show when he was moving amongst the audience with an open Jholi in his hands to collect donation for the theatre artistes; I asked him how is Shashi and why he has not come with the troupe.PrithiRaj ji  with glint in his eyes said “Oh! He is fine but very mischivous. He is busy in his exams. So he could not come.”

In 1961 two films were released ’Dharmputra and “Chaar Diwari”. But “Char Diwari”directed by Krishan Chopra”  was released first on 01.01.1961 so that whould be called his debut film in leading  role opposite that time star actress Nanda. “Dharmputra” was directed by Yash Chopra but sadly both films had flopped at the box office, though both films were classics .The sauve and restrained acting of Shashi Kapoor had left marks of his talent on the viewers.  Thereafter  there  was no looking  back for him and as they say, rest is history . Almost 160 films he has to his credit , 140 in Hindi and 20 in English. He was equally effective in both language films. In early phase of his career, he was successful and likable in films starring with  actress Nanda, while in his second phase of career, he was most popular as the co -star with Amitabh Bachchan. However, personally Shashi Kapoor always maintained that his most likable heroine was Nanda. They both together had given one of the biggest box office hits of those times “Jab Jab Phool Khile”.

While being associated with the Geoffrey Kindle’s English drama troupe Shakespearanna, He fell in love with his daughter Jennifer Kindle and after a long courtship, both married. For Shashi , Jennifer proved lucky to boost his career both as an actor as well as the producer of classic films like “36 Chauranghee Lane” “Junoon”  etc. He also won many National and International honours and awards as  actor and producer of  films.


 A Thorough Gentleman Actor sans Starry Egos


*Yes, this I can vouch with personal experience. Somewhere in 1984, in a film party at the President Hotel,he was one of the galaxy of stars.Journos went and greeted him and photographers clicked him incessantly.I was standing in a corner looking lost. Shashi Kapoor just came to me  and offered his hand saying “I am Shashi Kapoor”. I was completely floored and in fumbling voice said “Of course every one knows you as a star. Your aura repelled me from talking to you . I beg your pardon for this”.

He smiled ,shook hands with me and said”I never have such starry ego, please always feel free with me”.


Later in the late eighties, I was having a casual chat with the then busy and one of the most sought after actors Shashi Kapoor, at the foyer of his Prithvi Theatre. I had lamented about the non-professional, ditching attitude of the Hindi Film stars which made them truant and unreliable in the eyes of society. Even after giving written confirmation the stars seldom honoured their commitment especially for a social event. Shashi Kapoor assured that at least he is not of that type and I can anytime test his integrity. After a couple of months, Lions Clubs International wanted some film personality to add stature to their Annual Charity drive and create the popular hype by presenting a top actor/actress as the Chief Guest. I was reminded of Shashi’s persona. To start with, it was indeed difficult to make him agree to accept any such engagement for lack of time and tight schedules; even enough the event was to be held after 3 months. Fortunately, one of his outstation shoot commitment was suddenly cancelled and he had a complete week free prior to the Lions meet. Shashi Kapoor agreed to the engagement and noted down in his diary. It so happened that prior to the Lions meet, his wife Jennifer fell sick and he was required to look after her, including the hospital care and other anxieties, readjusting shooting schedules etc. It looked as if, genuinely he would not be able to attend the Lions engagement. Two days prior to the event, when I contacted Shashi Kapoor to enquire if it still will be possible for him to come to the Lions function, he retorted “Why not? If required, I may reschedule my shooting for paucity of time but I must give priority to this charity event as the  public is eagerly awaiting to see me on the occasion. I will definitely honour that commitment”.

And the gentleman Kapoor was not only present on the dot, but was so impressed by the noble event that he remained there till the end of the function.*

( This star marked portion is taken from my E published book "The Golden Sojourn In Bollywood Wonderland-- Vol. I )

 Shashi Kapoor loved wife Jennifer immensely . So after sad and unti mely demise of Jennifer, Shashi almost had gone into a sort of depression. Slowly and slowly, he got cut off and deserted lime light and devoted his time and energy more for the Prithvi Theatre. Due to various illness, he remained confined to the wheel chair till 2005 but was mentally alert.His last public appearance was perhaps at the IFFI Goa as the Chief Guest . For the last decade, this gentleman legend was  speechless with memory loss.

We journalists, his innumerable fans and the Indian filmdom will miss him badly.

Gentelman Sir, I bid you ADEU with full respect.


-----  Mohan Siroya

Written by: 

Mohan Siroya

Published on: 



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