On Shashi Kapoor’s 80th birth anniversary, the world of Hindi cinema celebrates its one of the most loved and revered star. He can easily be called the most charming hero Bollywood ever saw, but beyond his looks was his vision where he made films much ahead of our times and gave Mumbai its cosy theatre corner. SHUBARNA MUKERJI SHU pays her respect
Shashi Kapoor took his last breath on December 4, 2017, yet months down the line, the industry is still only coming to terms with his passing away. With everything that we are growing into, being a part of his vision of Bollywood, it does seem like his dreams are getting realised even as we write this. Despite his long-suffering, being bound to the wheelchair and barely being able to speak, the whole of B-town remembers him for his quick wit, ready humour and gentlemanliness.
His work and passion towards films and theatre brought about a revolution of sorts, which believed that talent alone could be the answer, passion alone could be the path. For an idyllic visionary’s 80th birth anniversary – the last painful days are left behind, the wheelchair is forgotten, the illness is forgotten, the sadness is forgotten, the only thing that remains with Bollywood are the fondest memories of the man who silently worked towards change. With friends and family, insisting on celebrating his memories instead of mourning his loss, we brought them together for a special birthday party.
I remember meeting Shashi ji at the premiere show of K Abbas’s Asmaan Mahal, in Mumbai where I met Dharamji for the first time. They both were talking in Punjabi, thinking that I will not be able to understand. But I have lived most of my childhood in Delhi so I could very much understand the language. Dharamji was telling Shashi ji – “yeh kudi Vadi chungi hai” and I could hear that. Somehow, all my memories of Shashi ji, have a touch of humour associated with it. I remember working with Shashi ji in Abhinetri, which was directed by Subodh Mukherji. He was so full of life and would spread that lively nature around. He worked in Hindi commercial films and many English international films which was a rare thing. I worked with him in many films and we had such memorable songs. Unfortunately, not many of our films worked at the box office, so we were not given the chance to work together often. One of my favourite films with him was Trishul. He was a very gracious man, a thorough gentleman and so suave. That’s how I will always remember him. I met him last at the Prithvi theatre where he was conferred Dadasaheb Phalke. He could barely speak or even recognise everyone. But he would smile at each guest, he was so full of life.
It might have been said many-a-times, but it is a fact, Shashi Kapoor was the most charming actor I have had the chance to work with. And yet, I remember him most for the wonderful human being he was, he will always be special because he gave me my first chance here in the big bad world of movies. There was so much to learn from him, his conduct was always so reassuring especially for newcomers. He never once was condescending and always patient, he inadvertently showed me the path I should take towards my career, towards newcomers I met through life.
My relationship with Shashi ji was very personal. He is the kind of person you look forward to spending time with. Whenever we met, we would pull each others’ legs. He had a great sense of humour and could take jokes on himself too. I want to remember him as the man who was always active, always on the run, a complete people’s person. Whenever he was on the sets the atmosphere would be such a vibrant, happy space. I might not have one memory to share, but I have a lifetime to remember and savour the friend I had in him.
Shashi Kapoor is dearly missed, there isn’t a day that passes by when we don’t feel the void of having lost him. But he wasn’t the one to let his life go by, he believed in embracing life, living it to the fullest and that is the same thing is his children are following, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, we are having a party. The entire family will be coming together for lunch – that’s how we would like to remember him, a voracious man – with a thirst for life, a passion of art and a ready wit.
It is not possible to speak of a singular memory when you are speaking about the man who was my backbone, my strength and my guide. Without being preachy, my father taught me all there was to learn about following your passion and yet, evolving with time. He always had an open mind, ready to learn more, do more without trying to make it into the journals for posterity. He never gave his name to his vision, but he was always there to support it. His commitment was infallible, till the very end he made it a point to be present on the last day of our children’s camps, handing out certificates and speaking to each of them. His presence, his support, he – himself will remain a part of me.