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Growing up with Shashi Kapoor and his films
On 4th December 2017, in the evening at around 6 pm, I received a WhatsApp message from one of my journalist friends that, 'Shashi Kapoor is no more'.

The news hit me like a bolt from the blue. Shashi Kapoor, my heartthrob is no more! The sweet memories of my growing up years during the 1980s started revolving in my mind.

Three decades ago in Kolkata, we did not have plethora of entertainment hubs, social media, shopping malls etc. Life was simple. I belonged to a conservative middle class family where going to cinema halls for watching Hindi films wasn't encouraged much. In those days, leading English dailies would mention the name of the film to be telecast on Sunday evening by state-owned Doordarshan channel.Every Sunday morning, I wished and prayed for a Shashi Kapoor film. In fact, I have seen most of his films, innumerable times, at home, on our black and white television set. I saw Shashi Kapoor and Nanda playing lead roles in the film Jab Jab Phul Khile when I was a school girl studying in class VI. I just fell in love with Kapoor's charming style. He enacted perfectly the simplicity of a Kashmiri boatman in the film. Next day, we enjoyed the journey to our school in the school bus singing songs of the film such as Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul; Pardesiyon se na ankhiyaan milana.

He looked devastatingly handsome in the film Pyar Ka Mausam starring along with Asha Parekh as the leading man. While playing antakshariamong friends we would sing his songs Tum bin jaaoon kahan from the film Pyar Ka Mausam or Sa re ga ma pa pa pa from the film Abhinetri. I admired the liberal and friendly character he portrayed in the film Kabhie Kabhie.How I wished my life partner would have such adorable qualities!

I loved the song filmed on him and Sharmila Tagore in a sailing ship with picturesque Nainital at the background in the film Waqt. In 1988, his elder brother and the great showman Raj Kapoor died in the month of June. That year in December, few movies of Raj Kapoor were shown by Doordarshan. Playing a young Raj Kapoor in the film Awara,Shashi Kapoor looked so sweet. When I was in the tenth standard, I saw the film AaGaley LagJaa. I loved the song Tera mujhse hai pehle ka nata kaoii….The song is repeated twice in the film. Once Shashi Kapoor, where the hero with a red woolen scarf over his head is seen carrying his heroine Sharmila Tagore in his arms, and secondly, in a party scene where his infant son forgets the lines of the song. In both the scenes, he looks just impeccable.

Hehas always projected an image of a dignified and charming urban lover so well in his films. In Hindi cinema, the iconic line: 'mere paas maa hai' delivered by him in the film Deewar, has been immortalized. He crafted his own distinct acting style, very different from his famous elder brothers Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, thereby carving out his own niche in the Hindi film industry.

Although, by the mid 1980s, he stopped starring in lead roles, I was always on the look out for any news about him. Since I came from a conservative family background, I wasn't allowed to buy or read Hindi film magazines inside my house. So I used to wait eagerly for my next haircut at the saloon in Lake market, where a number of film magazines such as Filmfare, Stardust etc were kept to save the waiting clients from boredom. As I waited in line for my haircut, I would turn the pages of film magazines to browse for any news about Shashi Kapoor, his films or his family. I read one of his interviews in 1986, in which he mentioned that 'his children had minds of their own'.

Once Calcutta (now Kolkata) Doordarshan telecasted his interview. I asked my mother to provide me dinner at that time to avoid getting scolded for wasting time while watching television. I was very happy when he received the national award for best actor for the film New Delhi Times in 1986. Like any other Indian women, I loved his smile, his forehead being kissed by locks of his hair, his style, in fact, his entire personality. He was a man whom both me and my mom admired, albeit that we belonged from two different generations.

In the 1980s, the English daily The Statesman used to publish Miscellaneous. One of the issues had photographs of a young Jennifer Kendal and the entire Kapoor family. As a crazy teenager, I kept the paper's cuttings in one of my notebooks.

My generation will always reminisce Chitrahaar, one of the most popular programmes on television of that era, which was broadcast every Wednesday from 8 pm to 8.30 pm. I would wait eagerly for a song from his films such as Shaan, Trishul, Namak Halal etc.

Shashi Kapoor romancing Neetu Singh in the song Keh dun tumhe in the film Deewar; or his pairing with Bindya Goswami along with Amitabh Bachchan-Parveen Babi in the song Janu meri jaan main tere qurban, remain permanently etched in my memory. I was too young, too naive at that point to understand his acting skills, but nevertheless I simply drooled over him…I loved him as an actor.

As I grew up, I read about his passion for theatre. He was an actor who excelled in mainstream Hindi films, international projects with the Merchant-Ivory productions. During my teenage years, I enjoyed watching the films he produced such as 36 Chowringhee Lane, Vijeta, Kalyug, Junnon and Utsav.

Yesterday, I was web chatting with one of my friends of Indian origin, born and brought up in North America. He had only visited India twice. But the moment I conveyed him the news of Kapoor's demise, he instantly recognized Shashi Kapoor. As a child, he had seen Kapoor's films with his parents in North America.

Few years ago, while passing through the Sudder Street on Christmas Eve, I spotted the Fairlawn Hotel. It is a memorable place during his early days Shashi Kapoor had stayed with his wife Jennifer in that hotel. I went inside and inquired about him. One of my seniors has done her doctoral studies on Anglo-Indian women. Once I too, expressed my desire to write a book on Jennifer Kapoor from a socio-cultural perspective. Now both of us nurture the dream of writing a book on Jennifer Kapoor.

As media reports suggest, after the unfortunate death of his beloved wife Jennifer, Shashi Kapoor lost the zeal to live. No longer did the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry attract him. He could never recover from the void created by Jennifer's untimely demise. Irregular lifestyle paved way to health ailments. In his final days, he became a social recluse. From being a person who received extensive media coverage, he had slowly faded away from the limelight.

It was a great moment of happiness for all the admirers of Shashi Kapoor to see him receive the Dadasaheb Phalke award. However, what pained me most being his ardent admirer was that why did the government of India decide to confer him with the honour, at the fag end of his life life? From the pictures of the award ceremony, it was clearly visible that he was physically present, but mentally in his own world.

Though every life comes comes with an expiry date, yet the positive contributions of a person remain in the society inspiring the generations to come. Cine-lovers will always remember Shashi Kapoor's contributions to the Indian film industry and also for giving us the 'Prithvi Theatre' - a melting point of creative talents.

He will remain forever in our hearts. The filmstar Shashi Kapoor reunites with his love Jennifer in heaven, himself becoming a star in the celestial abode. For Shashi Kapoor, it is the beginning of a new eternally peaceful journey.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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