By Ankita Gupta
Veteran actor Shashi Kapoor breathed his last on the 4 December 2017. His nephew, Randhir Kapoor grimly announced to the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), “He has passed away”. The legend died at 5.20 P.M at the Kokilaben Hospital, leaving the entire film fraternity mourning in his wake. He had been battling a chronic kidney ailment for several years now. Shashi Kapoor was the youngest son of Prithviraj Kapoor, the founder of Bollywood’s first family. He is survived by his three children.
The life and works of a gentleman
Shashi Kapoor, a three-time winner of National Film Awards, was a beacon of hope to legions of aspiring actors. He debuted in the early 1960’s with the ground-breaking Dharmputra, which was Yash Chopra’s second directorial venture. His devastating good looks and charming smile sent many young hearts aflutter. He was considered one of the most confident, stylish and romantic actors of his time. Shashi Kapoor was hailed as the Romance King of Bollywood. “With men like him around, I stood no chance at all,” wrote Amitabh Bachchan in an emotional adieu. “Standing elegantly without a care in the world, I saw him standing by a Mercedes Sports car, a convertible, a smart trimmed beard and moustache, adorning involuntarily, the face of this incredibly handsome man. It was a picture that filled almost an entire page of a magazine.”
No last word for critics
Shashi Kapoor’s acting abilities were often challenged by critics for favouring style instead of substance. He proved the cavillers wrong with Sharmilee, Jab Jab Phool Khile and Haseena Maan Jayegi. His chequered career was marked by several highs and lows. Shashi Kapoor went on a major signing spree through the 70’s which sparked harsh rebuke from his older brother Raj Kapoor who called him ‘A taxi on hire.’ Shashi Kapoor was the only versatile actor amongst his contemporaries who had the vision of establishing a strong foothold in art-house cinema. The creative genius produced supreme calibre movies like Junoon, Kalyug and Utsav. His immortalised lines “Mere paas maa hai,” which rose him to the higher octaves of stardom, still resound with modern day movie buffs.
The heartthrob of yesteryear Bollywood
The debonair actor’s romantic movies are a class apart. He had the leading ladies of Bollywood from Sharmila Tagore and Asha Parekh, to Zeenat Aman, Hema Malini and Shabana Azmi hanging onto his arms. The beautiful actresses are shattered by his demise as well. Hema Malini recalls Shashi Kapoor as a gentleman through and through. Sharmila Tagore has also expressed her pleasure and privilege at working with the charismatic actor. Simi Garewal mourned his loss saying “The last of that generation of Kapoors gone.”
Shashi Kapoor was immensely confident about his stardom and showed no scruples in playing second lead to many of his co-stars. His evoking charm and potential in underplaying subtlety are reflected in movies like Pyar Kiye Jaa, Deewar, Kala Pathar, Silsila and Namak Halal. The trailblazer and trendsetter was the only Indian to be considered to play major roles in epic films like Shakespeare-Wallah, The Householder and Heat And Dust. “They don’t make them like this anymore”, remarked actor Soni-Razdan.
For whom the bell tows
Shashi Kapoor was bestowed with prestigious awards like the Padma Bhushan and the Dada Saheb Phalke Award. An era of golden-age Bollywood ended with the passing away of the actor. His last rites were performed in the Santacruz Crematorium in Mumbai, on Tuesday. He was cremated with state honours- draped in the tricolour and given a gun-fire salute as a respect to his legacy. Stars from near and far visited the crematorium to bid farewell to the magical artiste. An ocean of followers gathered around despite the downpour to pay homage. Thus ended the journey of an inspiring artiste who gifted us with four decades of brilliant and unforgettable cinema.