It was on 4th December 2017 that, one of “Bollywood’s” most charming stars Shashi Kapoor took his last breath at the Kokilaben Hospital in Versova, Mumbai. Born into the famous “Kapoor” family, this charismatic actor has over the years enthralled the audiences with some splendid performances. So, be it in a commercial pot boiler such as Deewar or an art house film such New Delhi Times he has excelled in both. With his sad demise the time is ripe to pay this suave actor a tribute he richly deserves for his contribution to Indian cinema as well as theater.
a. The “Family and Schooling Background” of Shashi Kapoor:
“Balbir Prithviraj Kapoor” is the original name of this charming “Bollywood” star who was born on 18th March 1938 in the city of Mumbai. He was the youngest son of theater and movie actor Prithviraj Kapoor and his wife Ramsarni Kapoor. In addition, he was also the younger sibling of superstars Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor. Furthermore, he did his basic schooling at “Don Bosco High School” located in Matunga.
b. Shashi Kapoor’s initiation into the Hindi Film Industry:
It was as a child artiste in his elder brother Raj Kapoor movies Aag in 1948, Sangram in 1950, and Awaara in 1951 that this star first made his presence felt as an actor in the Hindi Film Industry. However, he first began acting in his father’s theater group “Prithvi” which performed all across India. It was eventually in the year 1961 in the movie “Dharamputra” that Shashi Kapoor officially made his debut as a leading man. In addition, it was in the 1960’s that he also worked as a lead actor for the first time in English movies such as “The Householder” and “Shakespeare-Wallah” directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant.
c. The “peak” of Shashi Kapoor’s acting career:
The late 60’s and early 70’s was when Shashi Kapoor reached his peak in terms of his career. Beginning from movies such as Jab Jab Phool Khile, Neend Hamari Khwaab Tumhare he went on to deliver some big hits. His first major blockbuster though was the 1971 film “Sharmelee” opposite actress Raakhee. Furthermore, during this period he delivered a number of hits with actresses such as Sharmila Tagore and Zeenat Aman in movies like Waqt, Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Chori Mera Kaam, and Satyam Shivam Sundaram. It was also during this point in time that he along with Amitabh Bachchan gave some memorable hits in the form of Deewar, Trishul, and Kabhi Kabhie. In fact, the famous dialogue “Mere pass Ma hain” delivered by the actor in the movie Deewar is still remembered by movie buffs in the country even today. In the 1980’s, even though this peak receded yet he delivered some fine nuanced performances in movies such as Kalyug and Vijeta. He then deservedly won the best actor National Award for his role as a honest journalist the 1985 movie New Delhi Times.
d. Shashi Kapoor and a “Soulmate” connection with Jennifer Kendal:
“Love at first sight” is what Shashi Kapoor experienced when he first met Jennifer Kendal at Calcutta while working in his father’s theater group. Now, Jennifer was also working in her father’s Geoffrey Kendal’s drama troupe called “Shakespeareana” when they met in the “City of Joy”. However, this relationship initially started with only Kapoor showing interest. It was only after a few meetings that love gradually blossomed between the two. It was eventually in July 1958 with the support of Shammi Kapoor’s wife Geeta Bali that they got married. After marriage they even featured in a few” Ivory-Merchant” movies that includes a film known as Bombay Talkie. This madly in love couple during their blissful marriage were blessed with three children in the form of Kunal Kapooor, Karan Kapoor, and Sanjana Kapoor. Sadly though, in 1984 Jennifer succumbed to cancer which is said to have broken the heart of this charismatic star forever.
e. Shashi Kapoor and “Prithvi Theatre”:
It was with the intention to fulfill his father Prithviraj’s dream of establishing a permanent space for his drama group that this charming actor built what eventually became known as Prithvi Theatre. It was in 1962, that Prithviraj managed to lease a piece of land in the suburb of Juhu so as to create a theatre. However, prolonged ill health and eventual death in 1972 meant that his dream remained unfulfilled. It was after the lease expired that the land was offered on sale, which was eventually brought by Shashi Kapoor and his wife Jennifer Kapoor, who eventually constructed Prithvi Theatre. Furthermore, the couple also set up the “Shri Prithviraj Kapoor Memorial Trust and Research Foundation”. In addition, the decor of the theater was developed by Jennifer Kapoor. It was on 5th November 1978, that Prithvi Theatre was officially opened to the public with the performance of a play titled “Udhwastha Dharmashala” written by GP Deshpande, which included great actors such as Nasseruddin Shah and Om Puri.
With this charismatic actor having delivered some fine performances in movies over the years as well as created the Prithvi Theatre, he shall always be fondly remembered forever by the Hindi Film Industry and theatre artists all across the city of Mumbai.
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