The suave Shashi Kapoor, fondly remembered by Kashmir

Shashi Kapoor was an Indian actor and film producer. Recipient of several accolades, including four National Film Awards and two Filmfare Awards, Kapoor predominantly worked in Hindi films.

For his contributions to film, the Government of India honored him with the Padma Bhushan in 2011, and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2014.

Shashi Kapoor was born as Balbir Raj Kapoor to Prithviraj Kapoor, and his wife in Calcutta, British India, on 18 March 1938. He was the youngest brother of Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor.

He began his career as a child actor in his brother Raj Kapoor’s directorial Aag (1948), and had his first adult role in Yash Chopra’s political drama Dharmputra (1961).

He started acting in films as a child in the late 1940s under the name of Shashiraj as there was another actor by the same name who used to act in mythological films as a child artiste.

He worked in four Hindi films as a child artiste from 1948 to 1954.

Kapoor was married to English actress Jennifer Kendal from 1958 till her death in 1984, and had three children– Karan Kapoor, Kunal Kapoor and Sanjana Kapoor.

His best-known performances as a child actor were in Aag (1948) and Awaara (1951), where he played the younger version of the characters played by his older brother Raj Kapoor, and in Sangram (1950), where he played the younger version of Ashok Kumar and Dana Paani (1953) where he acted with Bharat Bhushan.

Kapoor got an opportunity to work as an assistant director in the film Post Box 999, the debut film of Sunil Dutt, and worked as an assistant director to Ravindra Dave in Guest House (1959), which was followed by movies such as Dulha Dulhan and Shriman Satyawadi, where Raj Kapoor was the lead hero.

Shashi Kapoor made his debut as a leading man in the 1961 film Dharmputra and went on to appear in 116 Hindi films, including 61 films as the solo lead hero and 55 multi star-cast films, 21 films as supporting actor and special appearances in 7 films.

He was a very popular actor in Bollywood during the 60s, 70s and until the mid-80s.

Since 1961, he started acting in English language films, which include The Householder and Shakespeare-Wallah.

He was one of India’s first actors to go international.

He was the first Indian actor to work extensively in Hollywood films and British films, notably by Merchant Ivory productions.

Actress Nanda, who was an established star at her time, signed 8 Hindi films with Kapoor, as she believed that he could deliver good performances. Their first two films as a pair were the critically acclaimed romantic film Char Diwari (1961) and Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath (1962). In the 1960s, Kapoor acted in several romantic films opposite Nanda, including Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hain (1965), Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965), Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966), Raja Saab (1969) and Rootha Na Karo (1970). In an interview in the 1990s, Kapoor declared that Nanda was his favorite actress and that he regarded her as one of his mentors. In another interview, Nanda stated that Shashi Kapoor was her favorite actor.

The actor first visited Kashmir in 1965 for the shooting of his hit movie Jab Jab Phool Khile. In the movie, Kapoor played the role of Raja, a Kashmiri boatman who falls for his tourist Rita Khanna ( Nanda). Shashi also shot Kanyadan in Kashmir and then in 1968, he visited the Valley again to film the hit number Bekhudi mein sanam, uth gaye jo kadam for the movie Haseena Maan Jaayegi. Knowingly and unknowingly he became one of the biggest brand ambassadors of Kashmir.

Shashi Kapoor was a frequent visitor to Kashmir and he loved to go for shopping to local handicrafts markets.

He did two double role films, both of which were box-office hits – Haseena Maan Jayegi and Shankar Dada.

Shashi did a song number in Shankar Dada, a box-office hit, dressed up as a female.

He is particularly famous for his role in Deewaar (1975), a film written by Salim-Javed about two brothers on opposing sides of the law, with Kapoor playing a cop. One of his lines in the film, “Mere paas Maa hai” (“I have mother”), is a famous phrase that has become part of Indian popular culture.

In 1978, he set up his production house, Film Valas.

Shashi Kapoor was 2nd highest paid Hindi actor, sharing the spot with Dev Anand from 1970–75, and the 3rd third highest paid Hindi actor, sharing space with Vinod Khanna from 1976-82.

In the whole of the Kapoor clan, Shashi Kapoor has been the solo hero more times (61 films) and also as a lead protagonist in more Hindi films (116) than his nephews Rishi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor and Rajiv and even more than his brothers Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and more than his grand-nephews and grand-nieces.

He also won a National (special jury) Award for his performance in the 1993 film In Custody and played the Rajah in the TV adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels (1996).

In 1998, he retired from acting after his final film appearances in Jinnah and Side Streets.

He was seen in the limelight at the Shashi Kapoor Film Festival held in Muscat, Oman (September 2007).

At the 55th Annual Filmfare Awards in 2010, Shashi Kapoor received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sashi and his wife, Jennifer established Prithvi Theatre on 5 November 1978 in Mumbai.

Jennifer died of cancer in 1984 which shattered him. After losing her to cancer, Shashi Kapoor fell into a deep depression that he never recovered from.

He died at the age of 79 on 4 December 2017 due to liver cirrhosis.

Kapoor and actress Sridevi, who died in 2018, were the only two Indians honored posthumously in memoriam at 90th Academy Awards.


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