How is Ravi Kapoor now? Have we forgotten him? If you are unable to fathom what we are talking about, Ravi Kapoor is the original name of one of Bollywood’s biggest superstars of all time and the ladies’ heartthrob of his era — Jeetendra!
The man who earned the sobriquet of Jumping Jack in Bollywood owing to his energetic dancing style, turns 78 today. He has chosen to move away from the limelight, but Jeetu — as he was known to fans and colleagues — continues to reside in the hearts of Hindi film buffs across the globe.
Jeetendra’s genial screen image, gentlemanly attitude off the screen and, most notably, those trademark white dancing shoes he insisted on wearing every time, will never go away from popular psyche.
On his birthday, here’s a throwback on the phenomenon that is Jeetendra..
WHERE IT STARTED
Jeetendra was born on April 7, 1942 in Punjab’s Amritsar as Ravi Kapoor. He schooled at St. Sebastian’s Goan High School and then went to Siddharth College, both in Mumbai.
Jeetendra got his Bollywood break in V. Shantaram’s “Navrang”. He would go on to deliver hit films like “Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne (1964), “Farz” (1967), “Caravan” (1971), “Parichay” (1972), “Khushboo” (1975), “Kinara” (1977), “Dharam Veer”, “Judaai” (1980), “Meri Aawaz Suno” (1981), “Himmatwala” (1983), “Khudgarz” (1987) and a lot more, which made him a superstar.
Jeetendra has acted in over 200 movies as the lead, out of which over 120 were hits! This is a ratio very few actors can dream of. His active years were from the ’60s to the ’90s but he actually ruled Bollywood in the ’70s and ’80s. In the seventies, he made a hit pair with top actresses of the era such as Hema Malini, Rekha and Reena Roy. In the eighties, he started off as a hit co-star for Jaya Pradha but he really struck gold once he teamed up with Sridevi in the 1983 superhit, “Himmatwala“. The film that would go on to spiral Sridevi to the top of the Bollywood heroines’ heap, also led to a chain of commercial successes for the Jeetendra-Sridevi pair including “Justice Chaudhary”, “Maqsad”, “Mawaali” and “Tohfa”.
No discussion of Bollywood dancing can be complete without a thorough acknowledgment of Bollywood’s Jumping Jack Jeetendra. Jeetendra’s style was best defined in songs like “Naino mein mapna” (“Himmatwala”), “Taki O Taki” (“Himmatwala”), “Mast bahaaron ka main aashiq” (“Farz”) and “Dhal gaya din” (“Humjoli”), which remain evergreen till today.
The evergreen heartthrob who made every girl’s heart skip a beat, has always been a natty dresser. On-screen, he set a fashion trend with his white pants and white shoes. It is said that the actor had randomly picked up the clothes from a shop before shooting for the song “Mast bahaaron ka main aashiq” in “Farz”, which went on to become his trademark style. When quizzed about the same on the sets of a television dance reality show a few years ago, Jeetendra confessed with a smile: “Dark clothes make me look short!”
THE HEMA MALINI FACTOR
The man who GenNow Bollywood buffs know as Ekta and Tusshar Kapoor’s father has been happily married to his teenage love Shobha Kapoor for decades now, but a Hema Malini biography by Ram Kamal Mukherjee titled Hema Malini: Beyond The Dream Girl mentions that the actress’s mother Jaya Chakravarthy had allegedly convinced her to tie the knot with Jeetendra as she was not happy with her daughter dating Dharmendra, who was already a married man. Pressurizing Hema, her family arranged for a hush-hush wedding with Jeetendra at their Chennai residence. At that time, Jeetendra was dating Shobha Sippy, an airhostess. However, the news of the secret wedding got leaked in a daily. As soon as he read it, Dharmendra contacted Shobha and the two landed in Chennai. An inebriated Dharmendra reportedly broke into the wedding venue with Shobha. Despite the efforts of Hema’s parents to carry on with the wedding, she backed out after meeting Dharmendra. Meanwhile, Shobha also spoke to Jeetendra seeking an explanation from him about the entire episode!
STEPPING OFF THE SPOTLIGHT
Why did the man with numerous hits move away from the spotlight? Jeetendra’s son Tusshar revealed in an interview that the superstar of yore began losing interest when he started getting offers to play roles like the hero’s elder brother or father in the ’90s.
Although we don’t see him on screen, Jeetendra has not severed ties with his extended Bollywood family. He still attends invitations from friends and colleagues, and also happily obliges fans seeking an autograph or a selfie!