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Sunday, 14 August 2011

I will always love you... RIP Shammi Kapoor

Why should we mourn the demise of Shamsher Raj Kapoor, or very lovingly our Shammi Kapoor? Is he really dead? Gone? Never to be seen, heard or felt again? Is it true that his thundering 'yahoo' will cease to reverberate? NO.

Shammi Kapoor is not dead. He cannot be gone. For me, the inimitable and unstoppable hero is an emotion that needs only a stirring in order to resurface. Any mention of his films, his most identifiable voice Mohd Rafi and the numerous trivia associated with all Shammi Kapoor films, there we are discussing the man all over again. For, none of the Shammi Kapoor starrers would be the same without the man himself. None of the relentless romantic pursuits would be half as charming without his signature naughtiness and none of those romantic ballads would excite without the intensity of those smouldering eyes...
Can you imagine Anil Kumar Sona being played by anybody else? Blasphemy!! But in reality, the lead role in Teesri Manzil had initially been written for Dev Anand, as Goldie was directing the film and he obviously wanted his star brother to step into the project. But 'thankfully' Dev Anand could not commit the dates and the film fell into Shammi's kitty. Today, when we see the film, it appears that Shammi was born to play the dapper drummer constantly trying to vindicate himself. No one could have appeared so charismatic, no one so super cool. While he romanced Asha Parekh, he made me wobbly in the knees. With the same dedication he inspired the laughs. His witty one-liners, his facial contortions and his dances full of attitude made it such a joyride. My favourite line? When Rocky bombards against Sunita for the first time in the railway station, he cocks an appreciative glance at her, going on to remark, "My, my, too many things for a little girl like you!" Smart, crisp and so flirtatious. I call this a definitive foreplay to two and a half hours of cinematic pleasure...
Shammi Kapoor enlivened all his films, no matter what the script was. My father and I shared so many afternoons watching films starring Shammi Kapoor. Even though some of them hardly contained fantastic plots, we glued ourselves to the screen immensely enjoying the antics of the star. Such was our love. My father's favourite actor was Shammi Kapoor, seconded closely by Dharmendra. Being completely my daddy's girl, I grew up to love Shammi Kapoor the most, deriving happiness from all the Shammi starrers that I saw. And yes, I like Dharmendra too, for his awesome looks.
Father always said that in those days producers queued outside Shammi's residence to sign him in their films. And when a debutant was supposed to star as the lead heroine, they would definitely want him to hold the baton of the hero. For, once you do a film opposite Shammi Kapoor, your career would be set. Look at the films Kashmir ki Kali, Junglee, Janwar, Dil Deke Dekho and so on. While Shammi Kapoor was riding the success of Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Nasir Husain signed him to star against debutant Asha Parekh in Dil Deke Dekho, knowing full well that he would repeat his magic in this Nasir Husain starrer yet again after the 1957 blockbuster. Dil Deke Dekho became a blockbuster, sealing the fates of both its leads in the unpredictable world of films.
Junglee, Shammi Kapoor's first coloured film was a rollicking romance that highlighted the versatility of its handsome hero. The makers couldn't have chosen anyone else but Shammi Kapoor to serenade in the valleys of Kashmir opposite newbie Saira Banu. Even if you notice Saira's stiffness in some of the scenes despite being a flawless porcelain doll in terms of looks, you cannot take your eyes off from Shammi Kapoor. he just weakens with his presence, his easy charm and his intensity. The songs, especially Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par, became immortal because of Shammi Kapoor's expressions. He so effortlessly translated Mohd Rafi's emotional rendition into sheer onscreen magic...
Shakti Samanta relied on Shammi Kapoor, the master, to help debutant Sharmila Tagore, sail through her first hindi film, Kashmir Ki Kali. Sharmila was perfect. She was every bit the innocent and pristine Kashmiri damsel struck by the chivalry and charms of her city-bred lover. But it was Shammi Kapoor who breathes life into the verdant valleys of the paradise. Look at his energy, its palpable. And his range? Right from comedy, to funny disguises, to folk dances, to sweet romance, to beating the baddie into pulp, to expressing dejection and to being in hot pursuit of the heroine, Shammi Kapoor takes all the bouquets away. Tell me of another actor who would injected as much flamboyance into Yeh chand sa roshan as Shammi. Kisi na kisi sey has that infectious bounce to it because Shammi is the one dancing to the tunes. Ishaaro ishaaro and Deewana hua baadal are painfully pleasurable in their loveliness. Similarly, Hai rey hai is robust and hearty, just like the Shammi who performs the bhangra with as much elan as he does the rock and roll. But its not just the songs, Shammi Kapoor was a good actor also, even though he never really considered himself to be in the same ranks as say Dilip Kumar or Dev Anand. But at least when you saw him performing the scenes, he did make them credible. He did happy films and you went home with a tune in your heart after seeing his films. He never pretended to be a serious actor and that's what his films did, they entertained in a wholesome manner. The sequences were funny, the happenings were dramatic and the parts he played blended with the flow of the story.
Kudos to Shammi Kapoor for setting a trend, the trend of the dancing hero who doesn't have any inhibitions about shimmying. His dances are so awesome. Every film featured at least one song where Shammi could dance. And dance he did. Specific style be damned... Shammi created moves that were killing and liquid. Once he was in the mood, his body just shook with an attitude that was hard to tame. Flamboyant, sexy as well as spectacular, his rakish grin further enhancing the scintillating dance numbers. I love all the songs picturised on him but the ones that needs special mention are Aaja aaja mein hoon pyaar tera, Asmaan se aaya farishta, Badan pey sitaarey lapetey huen, Hai rey hai yeh tere haath mein, Ai aiya karun mein kya suku suku, O haseena zulfon wali, Aajkal tere mere pyaar ke charchey, Bolo bolo kuch to bolo, Yahaan ke hum hain rajkumar...  There are so many more...
And the love songs? Well, I could go on and on...
What I totally loved about Shammi Kapoor's films was how in every film he had a small portion where he donned different disguises. They were so absolutely rib-tickling. He changed his voice, his looks and donned hilarious clothes to fool people. Somehow, when this hero was around you did not need a comedian. Shammi Kapoor was all-encompassing. He could entertain alone. I wonder whether his heroines were intimidated by his star presence, his aura and his confidence. I believe not, for today all the excerpts I hear from several interviews was that he was a lovely person to work with. Humble and fun-loving, he always put his co-stars at ease. That's the mark of a true performer. He was involved and very professional.
Shammi Kapoor exhibited immense joie de vivre. Even after he retired from films, he continued to occupy a substantial space in public memory. He tweeted regularly and was an internet buff. He started off being a youth icon and in his last days he maintained a regular connect with the modern tools of youth. Shammi Kapoor may have been a septuagenarian but he was hardly old! he knew how to life life king-size.
Shammi Kapoor knew how to look the part. Be it as a dashing don in China Town or a doddering old man in Professor, Shammi Kapoor was remarkably stylish. His coats, jackets, shirts, cravats, loafers, all of it was so carefully put together. In fact, they complemented his good looks and his warm brown eyes. Somewhere I think Shammi Kapoor was aware of the effect he had on his female fans. For, in his films you can see him regaling in the dynamism of his body language. I'm sure he thought that if he moved his hand with a certain swish, all girls who were watching him do that would gasp and faint. Somehow, Shammi Kapoor knew how to cash in on his good looks.
Look how he dresses in most of his films, he is deadening. Even as the bumbling prince in Rajkumar, he is royally dapper. But personally I loved him in his western clothes, his colourful shirts, accessorised by natty cravats.
Shammi Kapoor passed away today. I feel a void, a deep pain somewhere inside. A beautiful era comes to an end. As I watched several footage from his films on TV throughout the day, my eyes welled up many times. But then I thought, "Legends like him are immortal. He will live on in our memories. His films will continue to entertain and spread cheer." And in this realisation I drew comfort. As a lovely image of the young Shammi Kapoor flashed on the screen and the strains of Tum mujhey yun bhula na paogey wafted, I heard myself saying, "True, so very true..."


  1. Well written, I was looking fwd to an article by you for shammi kapoor - d unforgettable.

  2. @Sharmi: I know every word you posted here comes from your heart. I have been a Shammi Kapoor fan from high school days and it's painful to see him go. When I stopped at the local music store today I looked for DVD of Junglee which has been evading the stands for a long time. When I found the DVD I almost shouted Yahoo. When I got home I came to know Shammi Kapoor left this world. What a sad day. There is no doubt HE will live in our memories forever. I am determined to watch Junglee tonight as a homage to him. May his soul RIP.

  3. @Sophia: Thanks yaar. I just couldn't stop myself today.

  4. @Sreenath: You must do that. In fact I watched Teesri Manzil again today. Actually I wanted to write so many things but couldn't place my thoughts in order. So many feelings are in my mind right now. He will always be there for me!

  5. Hi. I was expecting this post. And I can very well understand how hard it must have been for you to take hold of all the feelings rumbling inside and string them together into words. But, as you truly said, Legends never die. They live on, in the hearts of their admirers. Shammi Kapoor is right here.

  6. @Punya: Yes, he is right here Punya and always will be. Long Live the Original Adorable Junglee!!

  7. Sharmi, beautifully written. I can see how straight from the heart this piece comes.

    Yes, we will always love him. And he will always continue to entertain and charm and completely bowl us over... RIP.

  8. @Dustedoff: Initially I had thought that I won't be able to sum up the feelings I have for him. But then I thought, what the heck, let me just pour all of them out...
    Thank you Madhu! And Long Live Shammi Kapoor!!

  9. I somehow missed this post of yours, Sharmi.
    I echo your sentiments completely. I can imagine the television programmes running Shammi's songs etc the whole day. Missed being there among the people remembering, talking, watching, him, but the internet and blogs were a good compensation to join the others in expressing grief, appreciation, and why we loved him so much.
    Thanks for this wonderfully expressed post.


  10. @Pacifist: Thank you so much for understanding what I was trying to say. It was difficult to put all the thoughts together but somehow I managed. He gave us so much joy, and he will continue to do so...

  11. The prince of Bollywood. For me, listening to Shammi Kapoor songs is the ultimate way of revitalization. He's so missed.

  12. @Amit: I swear! Not just his songs his films were super entertainers too.

  13. Well said. I have been having this deep pain too inside of me since Shammiji passed away. I shed tears when I saw his body laid out ther at the ban ganga crematorium. When Rafi saab passed away, they said that Shammiji had lost his voice. Now, with Shammiji's demise, the silence is deafening, I have seen 10 of Shammiji's hits since he passed away. I was wondering if someone could upload his Andaz with Hemaji to Shammiji, I truly wish I had been part of your life. You were a wonderful artist and human being. May your soul rest in peace. Rest assured, you will never ever be forgotten.

  14. Since Shammiji passed away I have been reading every article in tribute to him, but none came so close to encapsulating Shammiji's uniqueness and panache on - and off - the screen. I've really enjoyed reading your tribute to him.

    I was downcast on hearing about his death, but, as you pointed out, realizing that his memory lives on makes this loss less unbearable. I also loved the thought that Shammi 'is dancing in the heavens' (Ranbir Kapoor in Kaun Banega Crorepati)

    I would also echo the view of one of the posts above about the availability of his movies online. Not just for Andaaz, but also an UNCUT VHS version of the classy Teesri Manzil is much needed on the web. I hope that someday Shammi Kapoor fans will be able to access most - if not all - of his masterpieces.

    RIP Shammi.

  15. @Anonymous: Thank you. Ive written what I feel. He will be so missed.