March 18, 2013

Shashi Kapoor: Robinhood of Bollywood

Who can forget his dialogue in ‘Deewar’, ‘Mere paas maa hai’, quoted by people till date! Though '70s were slowly becoming the domain of the Angry Young Man, this classic dialogue of all times belonged to Shashi Kapoor and the role won him the Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actor. 

The charming romantic hero of the 60's in his prime stole the box-office and literally gave it away to  filmmakers, who had big dreams and a bigger hole in their pocket is none other than Shashi Kapoor . The hero who hailed from an establishment of filmdom's most famous dynasty - the Kapoors, always flattered the ladies in style. He launched 'Filmvalas' and funded those directors, waiting to be made. Unlike other actor-producers, Shashi Kapoor never insisted on making movies that showcased his song and dance. The youngest of the three siblings, Balbir Raj Kapoor aka Shashi Kapoor, like his famous brothers Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor was no stranger to the stage or the studios.

His entry in studios came early, began as a child actor in his father's famous travelling theatre Prithivi,. He made a start in brother Raj's hits Aag and Awara – portrayed the young Raj Kapoor. Shashi Kapoor made his debut as protagonist in Yash Chopra's Dharam Putra in 1961. From there started his journey as one of the most successful actors of all times. 

Dharamaputra was followed by Chaar Diwari opposite Nanda - already an established star then and Bimal Roy's Prem Patra and Benezir with Meena Kumari. All the films received warm response at the box office and it his career had secured.

His looks and style often rejected and considered as too western for the Bollywood, but it soon became his strength and worked on his benefit in 1965 with the musical romance Jab Jab Phool Khile. Cast opposite Nanda once again, the polished and sober actor loved as the shikharawala.

The film, his first solo hit as an actor, was followed by the hit multi-starrer Waqt opposite Raj Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Sadhna and Sharmila Tagore. The romantic musicals Kanyadaan and Pyaar Ka Mausam with Asha Parekh made him the  heartthrob of the silver screen. Today, at the age of 75, Shashi Kapoor is an immensely accomplished actor with several National and film awards in his kitty. He is one of the first names to be reckoned among the actors who made a successful career in English films.

If Raj Kapoor owned Chaplinsque style and Shammi Kapoor had flambouyance, his style was completely in contrast to his well-known brothers. Shashi Kapoor's approach being natural, the early 70s saw a roster of commercial successes like Sharmilee, Chor Macheye Shor, Roti Kapda Aur Makaan and Faqira.

With his western looks and style Shashi Kapoor was the perfect fit for indo-western productions. Being one of the first Hindi film actors to go international, the young actor who was working with his father's theater company Prithvi met Jennifer Kendal during his spell with her family's travelling repertory theater group.
The couple married in 1958 and his versatility in English movies came to known with James Ivory's The Householder in 1963.

This film gave the way for further collaborations with Merchant-Ivory Productions. His flexibility in English made him a familiar face in critically acclaimed international films.

The Householder was followed by, Shakespearewallah based on the story of a family troupe of English actors in India. They travel around the towns and villages giving performances of Shakespearean plays. By 1965 as he continued to be successful in commercial Hindi films, he continued to receive offers from international cinema, playing a Eurasian guide in the 1967 Pretty Polly opposite Hayley Mills. It was followed by Merchant Ivory's Bombay Talkies opposite wife Jennifer in 1970.

The1983 romantic drama Heat and Dust which starred several faces from international and Indian cinema saw him to play the nawab and In Custody - an adaptation of Anita Desai's emerged as an impressive figure. The film won him the Special Jury National Award.
Along with his wife Jennifer, he set up a permanent theater Prithivi in Mumbai in memory of his father who had dreamt of having a "home" for his repertory theatre company and in the 1980s he set up his own film production company Film Vala's. The star pin up of the swinging '60s and '70s donned the producer's hat with ease.

Their first production, Junoon directed by Shyam Benegal was set against the revolt of 1857. The film is based on Ruskin Bond's fictional novella, A Flight of Pigeons, set around the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The film won him the National Award and Filmfare award for Best Film.

He donned the director's hat with Ajooba, but the film failed to make a mark.

Honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, his role and involvement will always be reminisced. His cinematic appeal will remain eternal.

Shashi Kapoor- the heartthrob of the '60s and the '70s, on his 75th birthday we wish him a very happy birthday and pray for his long life and good health.

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