This morning Shammi Kapoor passed away.
My father was a huge fan of the actor. We grew up with music from his films. Later on when we got a Television – some time in 1985 – watching his films on Doordarshan became a favorite pastime. Ujala, Professor, Kashmir ki Kali, Dil Dekhe Dekho, An Evening in Paris, Junglee, Bhramachari, Teesri Manzil, – were movies that were part of my childhood. All India Radio kept his movies alive by constantly playing his songs.
Later, when I was in the 9th – I saw Hero. Obviously one drooled at a very young Jackie Shroff. But, one couldn’t but agree with Shammi Kapoor’s character who had an issue with his favorite child (Meenakshi Sheshadri) marrying a two bit criminal. The following year I saw Premrog – one of my favorite modern Raj Kapoor films… and again Shammi Kapoor had a fanstastic cameo as a man – Bade Raja Thakur – who wanted to do the right thing – get the widowed Padmini Kholapure married to Rishi Kapoor – but prevented by custom & tradition.
But, Shammi Kapoor wasn’t just the old patriarch in films.
He was the young rebel. The first modern Indian man in films – the one without the angst about life, being Indian, corruption, or any other thing. He was the Hero who laughed, sang, cajoled, flirted, was not just strong enough to beat up the bad guys, but also strong enough to shed tears. He was, for many my generation, the ideal Indian male. The man so secure in himself that he ddin’t need to humiliate women… He just loved us all…
Shammi Kapoor – aankh mein kaajal, mooh pe pasina ..yaala, yaala dil legayi Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey sing for Mala Sinha & Shammi Kapoor
He was a very physical actor – i am sure if you tied up his hands he would not have been able to talk. Legend has it that he ended up dislocating some bones in singing this song. He was trying to keep pace with Mohd.Rafi’s singing.
He had a fine flair for comedy. Though the comedy was also intensely bumbling and physical – the pie on the face kind of comedy. And he was very good at it. This scene in Professor, never fails to crack me up
He was romantic. the Ufff kind of romantic …what woman can say no to a man like this.
And, he could sizzle … passionately sizzle …Dil tera dewana …
and, Raat ke Humsafar with Sharmila Tagore in the film an Evening in Paris
And, he could sulk, and sulk and sulk and sulk …. till the heroine made up, and of course he would accept her eternal love. In that sense he reminded me more of Bhaloo the bear in the Jungle Book than the macho hero Here is Ameeta trying to get a sulking Shammi Kapoor to smile
There was no one – then or now – who could quite move like him on the dance floor. the women who could match him step to step – jhatka for jhatka were only two – Helen & Mumtaz
Aaja Aaja Mein hoon Pyar Tera – Shammi Kapoor & Helen
Shammi Kapoor & Mumtaz in Bhramachari … boy could they move
Baar Baar Dekho – Shammi Kapoor - am told that narrow trousers made a comeback after this song
No piece on Shammi Kapoor can be complete without talking about Mohammed Rafi – When you hear Rafi Sahab sing for Shammi Kapoor, he managed to capture all the energy, the playfulness, and joy of life that Shammi Kapoor brought to all his roles.
Shammi Kapoor – Jawaniyan ye Mast Mast … I truly love this song the ultimate road song.
And, finally, the song that was the ultimate Shammi Kapoor descriptor
My play list for SHammi Kapoor on Youtube is here – it is work in progress.