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Ever-green Shashi Kapoor gives in to death

Ever-green Shashi Kapoor gives in to death

    By Gargi Parsai

New Delhi,  (UNI) In his career spanning over four decades, the dashing, debonair and ever-green Shashi Kapoor withstood a phenomenon called Rajesh Khanna and a hurricane named Amitabh Bachchan but on Monday he gave in to death at the age of 79.

Coming from a background of theatre and that too English theatre, he was a man of many parts though what he is remembered best for in Hindi films is for his role and dialogue against Amitabh Bachchan in `Deewar’: ``Mere paas ma hai’’.

The role fetched him the Best Supporting Actor Filmfare award.

Born as Balbir Raj Kapoor on March 18, 1938, Shashi derived his looks from his handsome father, Prithviraj Kapoor, after whom he named the famous Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai which he set up with his late British wife, Jennifer Kendal.

He made his debut in his elder brother, Raj Kapoor’s `Awara’ as a child in the song `Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua’. Amongst his early memorable films was BR Chopra’s classic, `Dharamputra’ in which he emotes the dilemma of a boy born to an unwed Muslim mother and adopted by Hindu parents. His next big film was `Jab Jab Phool Khile’ with Nanda. The film, with beautiful songs, was a runaway hit. He went on to make several successful films with Nanda, who he said was his favourite co-star.

Another notable film of the time was `Benazir’ with Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari.

His `Sharmilee’ and `Kabhie Kabhie’ with Raakhee were blockbuster films as also `Waqt’, `Aamne Saamne’,` Suhana Safar’ and` Aa Gale Lag Jaa’ with Sharmila Tagore. `New Delhi Times’ in which he plays a journalist, fetched him the National Award as Best Actor in 1986. With Hema Malini he gave hits like `Abhinetri’ and `Trishul’. His other hits were `Haseena Maan Jayegi’, `Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati’ with Babita. `Pyar Ka Mausam’ with Asha Parekh and `Chor Machaye Shor’ were silver jubilees. He did several films with Shabana Azmi and Rekha and made Raj Kapoor’s magnum opus, `Satyam Shivam Sundarm’ with Zeenat Aman in which he was one of the first actors to kiss on screen.

His film’s `Junoon’ and `Kalyug’ won Best Film awards from Filmfare and in 1986 he won the Silver Lotus Award for acting in `New Delhi Times’.

Shashi Kapoor was one of the first actors to go international via the theatre route. In 1956, when he was assistant stage manager and a theatre artise in his father’s Prithvi Theatre company, he met English actress Jennifer Kendal who was part of Geoffrey Kendal’s Shakespearana roving theatre company.

Taking a detour from Hindi films, Shashi started travelling with Shakespearana and in 1958 he married Jennifer after overcoming initial resistance from the Kendals. They had three children—Kunal, Sanjana and Karan. None of the children, however, made it big in Hindi films because of their European looks.

Shashi went on to act in Merchant Ivory productions of Ismail and James Ivory including `The Householder’, `Shakespeare Wallah`, `Bombay Talkie`, `Heat and Dust`, `The Deceivers` and `Side Streets`. Ismail Merchant also directed him in `In Custody`.

In 1978 Shashi gave in to his creative urge as a producer and set up his own production house, Filmwalas. He produced and acted in critically acclaimed films like `Junoon’, `Kalyug’, `Vijeta’ and `Utsav’. His `36 Chowringee Lane” won critical acclaim. He ventured into direction with `Ajooba’ which he made with Amitabh Bachchan and nephew Rishi Kapoor.

In 1984 Jennifer passed away leaving Shashi devastated. Jennifer was said to be responsible for keeping him fit. After she passed away, it seems Shashi let himself go and started gaining weight.

In 1988 he acted with Pierce Brosnan in The Deceivers. He last public association with a film was in 1998 in a film called Jinnah, in which he was the narrator in the biopic on Mohammed Ali Jinnah. He retired from films in the late 1990’s.

He received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bombay International Film Festival in 2009. For his contribution to cinema, Shashi was given the Dada Saheb Phalke award in 2015.

Recently a photo of him surrounded by his surviving heroines including went viral. The actor sitting in a (wheel) chair, while the ladies were standing was not how the “gentleman actor’ would want it. But destiny has its way.


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