Eternal lover boy — RIP

There were many shades to Shashi Kapoor, his oeuvre expansive and in death as he was when he was alive, he will be remembered for the iconic dialogue of Mere Pas Ma Hai from Yash Chopra’s seminal Deewar. Although, there were other more powerful dialogues in the same film, none as hard hitting as Jab tak ek bhai bol raha hai, ek bhai sunn raha hai; Kapoor will always be remembered for Mere pas ma hai. But Shashi Kapoor was also a quintessential romantic hero, an embodiment of dashingly boyish good looks and sophisticated breeding by making many Merchant Ivory films like Householder and Shakespearewallah. Arguably the first unheralded crossover star from India.

The 79-year-old Balbir Raj Kapoor, who had been battling ill health for many years, was an integral part of Hindi cinema for years. From Jab Jab Phool Kile, Haseena Man Jayegi, Sharmelee, Chor Machaye Shor, Aa Gale Lag Ja and many more, Kapoor was a handsome star that celluloid loved to put on screen. He was also part of the ruling trinity along side Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna.

 There were many shades to Shashi Kapoor, his oeuvre expansive and in death as he was when he was alive, he will be remembered for the iconic dialogue of Mere pas ma hai from Yash Chopra’s seminal Deewar. Although, there were other more powerful dialogues in the same film, none as hard hitting as — Jab tak ek bhai bol raha hai, ek bhai sunn raha hai; Kapoor will always be remembered for Mere pas ma hai. But Shashi Kapoor was also a quintessential romantic hero, an embodiment of dashingly boyish good looks and sophisticated breeding by making many Merchant Ivory films like Householder and Shakespearewallah. Arguably the first unheralded crossover star from India.

The 79-year-old Balbir Raj Kapoor who had been battling ill health for many years was an integral part of Hindi cinema for years. From Jab Jab Phool Kile, Haseena Man Jayegi, Sharmelee,  Chor Machaye Shor, Aa Gale Lag Ja and many more, Kapoor was a handsome star that celluloid loved to put on screen. He was also part of the ruling trinity along side Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna, working in several multi starrers as was the trend then, none funnier than Do Aur Do Panch with Bachchan. It is ironic that after the untimely demise of Vinod Khanna, Kapoor has also left us within months. The charming God’s Good Man, as his director in Kalyug and Junoon, Shyam Benegal, described him, made his debut as a hero in 1961 in Dharmputra playing ironically a radical hot head.

His body of work includes many films of different hues, but two or three are most notable — playing the feisty but understated (Vikas Pande) Arun Shourie in New Delhi Times for which he received the National Award as he takes on the ruling political power centre at the behest of his owner Manohar Singh who enacts the role of Ram Nath Goenka, Junoon set against the Great Mutiny of 1857, he plays Javed Khan, a reckless chieftain who breeds carrier pigeons pitted against his younger brother in law, the politically awakened Naseeruddin Shah and Heat and Dust where he displays a completely different shade as Nawab of Khatm who has an illicit affair with a British official’s wife Olivia (Greta Scacchi). Influential film critic Roger Ebert wrote: “Heat and Dust contains wonderful sights and sounds and textures. It is seductive, treating both of its love stories with seriousness; these are not romances, but decisions to dissent. It is fully at home in its times and places... And when it is over, we’re a little surprised to find that it is angry, too. Angry that women of every class and every system, women British and Indian, women of the 1920s and of the 1980s, are always just not quite the same caste as men.”

From the Kapoor stable, he was one of the brightest stars. Remember, his father was the screen giant Prithviraj, his brothers — the showman Raj and the dancing star of his generation Shammi — and yet he lasted longer than both as a leading man. This was a time when music held sway in Hindi cinema. Epitomising his smooth looks and mellifluous crooning — Khilte hain gul yahaan, khilke bikharne ko/Milte hain dil yahaan, milke bichhadne ko — Shashi Kapoor romances the gorgeous Rakhee in Sharmelee or  Likhe jo khat tujhe woh teri yaad mein (Kanyadaan, 1968) or Pardiseyon se na Ankhiyan Milana from Jab Jab Phool Khile as the shikarawallah, each and every song remains unforgettable and embedded in one’s memory recesses.

The abiding image remains of a bow tied young Shashi Kapoor, but equally of an actor playing counter point to Amitabh Bachchan in a a wide catalogue of films — Namak Halal, Trishul, Kabhi Kabhi, Suhaag etc and Prem Kahani where he reprised the role of a police inspector during the Raj. The interplay between the triangle of characters of Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz and Shashi Kapoor which ends with Rajesh Khanna taking the lead and getting himself killed by Mumtaz to convince him that Mumtaz indeed loved Shashi Kapoor and not him is classic. I must end with his role as the centrifuge Karan Singh in the modern Mahabharta — Kalyug — a blood feud between two business houses. RIP, the charismatic golden boy of B Town, loved, adored and worshipped by one and all.