Bollywood’s ultimate charm house Shashi Kapoor had the stage set for him to follow the Kapoor legacy. Though he was a mainstream actor and he did the ‘running around trees’roles, he chose to strike out a different path by backing films like Junoon, 36 Chowringhee Lane some of which turned out to real landmarks.
While he only directed Amitabh Bachchan starrer 1991 film Ajooba in Bollywood, in early days of his career Shashi Kapoor worked as assistant director in films like Post Box 999, Guest House, Shriman Satyawadi, Dulha Dulhan and Manoranjan.
As Shashi Kapoor took his last breath yesterday, Amitabh Bachchan wrote a letter to pay tribute to the Veteran actor, “Standing elegantly without a care in the world, I saw him standing by a Mercedes Sports car, a convertible, a smart trimmed beard and moustache, adorning involuntarily, the face of this incredibly handsome man. It was a picture that filled almost an entire page of a magazine. Shashi Kapoor … son of Prithviraj Kapoor, younger brother to Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, making a debut in a forthcoming film, is what the caption read .. And I said to myself, as very uncertain thoughts raced through my mind of wanting to become a film actor, that, with men like him around, I stood no chance at all…,” the post begins as he describes a handsome picture of Shashi Kapoor.
“He went on to add, 1969, and those early years of efforts to join the Industry were also the times when there was a close proximity, to the area of an atmosphere, that swivelled around this most attractive man. On and off, common friends in the Industry, which I was just getting acquainted with, would introduce me to him at select social gatherings ..
“ Shashi Kapoor !” was what one heard as he extended a warm soft hand out to you in the introduction; that devastating smile complimenting the twinkle in his eyes. He needn’t have done so. Everyone knew him. But this was his infectious humble self. When he spoke, there was a mischievous, gentle, almost inaudible, delicate, yodel, in his voice – most endearing and comforting to the one he was introduced to. The self-introduction habit was a gem. The one being introduced to was, quite obviously, prompted to say his or her name as well, when they heard his. It was a remarkable tool to come to know the other persons name .. and .. if and when there was to be another meeting after many forgettable years, the same technology was most helpful in remembering the other persons name, in case you had forgotten it .. !!
I must admit .. it was a technology that remained with me as a learning, assisting me in using it during those uncomfortable times, when out of the blue someone would come out to you and address himself as a long lost buddy, with a :
“remember me! we last met 6 years ago at the crossing of Kemps Corner, as you drove past and waved to me” !!!
My mind is warning me .. ‘of course you don’t, how could you possibly’ .. ‘stick that hand out ala Shashi Kapoor and act friendly..’
I obey ..
‘yes of course I do’ .. I say .. looking recognisably lost .. ( sticking hand out ) .. Amitabh Bachchan ..!!
And he would assure me with his .. and Kemp’s Corner and waving by, passing travelling vehicle, suddenly all come flashing by .. I am saved .. and he goes away with some rather impressionable opinions about me ..
The next .. was his semi curly hair on head, falling carelessly over his forehead and ears, not quite covering it .. and my upper story mumbled again: ‘hey! maybe you should think of covering your ears as well ..’ … and off I went to Hakim the hairdresser at Taj Hotel with my plan .. and executed, it remained till date ..
What followed .. is a documentation of very intimate association, personal exigencies .. collective professional camaraderie .. ending in family bindings ..
He had been ailing .. somewhere he had let himself go after the passing away of his dear wife Jennifer .. I had visited him on occasion in Hospital during some of the times he had been hospitalized earlier .. but I never went to see him again .. I would never have .. I never ever wanted to see this beautiful friend and ‘samdhi’ in the state I saw him in hospital ..
…. and I did not today, when they informed me that he had gone …
The words of the ‘sher’ at the opening came to me minutes after Rumi Jafri, eminent writer in our film industry, sent them to me on learning of his death ..
“how long could I have preserved this exquisite and expensive book of life ; the pages of the book were damaged ..”
He fondly addressed me as ‘babbua’ .. and with him have gone many incredible unread chapters of his and my life .. “