Monday, December 04, 2017
Farewell to Shashi Kapoor - overlooked but never overshadowed
One of my all time favorite actors and Bollywood legends, Shashi Kapoor (ne Balbir Raj Kapoor) has passed away at age 79. 2017 also marks the 69th anniversary of his debut on the silver screen in his brother Raj Kapoor's movie 'Aag'. And finally, this year would have been the 57th wedding anniversary to his beloved wife Jennifer (who passed away from cancer in 1984) with whom he had three children. Shashiji, long considered one of Bollywood's favorite sons but also one of it's most underrated. His flame never shone quite as bright as his elder brother Raj or as his contemporary (and close friend) Amitabh Bachchan - but he holds a special place in my heart and countless other fans of Hindi films. Indeed, click on most any Bollylink on the side of this post and you will find a plethora of Shashi fans. Like me they just adore him and wax poetic about his acting, sense of style and just how damn 'Shashilicious' he is (my personal favorite).
I was too young to have watched the films of his early career in the 60's & 70's the first time around since I emigrated to the US when I was 2. However, after seeing him in 'Chor Sipahee' during my first trip back to India in 1977 I was instantly hooked, his 'Shashilicious' had infected me and there would be no coming back. I remember having lengthy discourses (as lengthy as Indian kids who grew up in the suburbs of Dallas could have) with buddies of mine about who was the most Zabardast Hero - Amitabh or Shashi? Even when renting VHS tapes at the Indian grocery store ($11 for a 3 day rental!) I insisted that my parents only get movies starring either of them and when they started doing their 'buddy movies' together - well that was one heck of an era for this Bollywood fan. To this day they both remain my two favorite actors/stars/heroes and asking me to pick between them is simply impossible. Amitabh was larger than life - an impossibly tall superman of an actor, with movie star good looks, sporting perfectly coiffed hair whose baritone voice shook the goondas to their core. Click on the below link for a lovely retrospective of Shashiji's career from those in the industry who knew him best...
But Shashi? He was of average height at best, had curly hair that had a mind of it's own, spoke with a distinctive voice indeed but nothing earth-shaking and while he was unmistakably handsome - his smile betrayed some crooked choppers that made him look, well accessible. Because you see, yours truly was of average height, had curly hair that would expand exponentially in the Texas humidity, had teeth so crooked I needed braces for years and had a voice that would never be picked to narrate any documentaries. I loved Shashi because he wore all his imperfections on his sleeve and never tried to be more than what he was - he showed me that to be truly successful one just had to have 'it' and boy, did he ever. Amitabh represented the superhero whom I could admire from afar and could never be - while Shashi was the everyman whose films I watched and realized that he was actually someone who I could be or at least try to. And that is what makes Shashi so special indeed, for he had charisma & charm - an unlimited supply of it at that.
Today's selection is 'Sarke Sarke', a song that I consider to be the forgotten song of Silsila. In my opinion it is one of the best Kishore/Lata duets ever done and is picturised quite beautifully with Shashi & Jaya Bachchan. It is sometimes overlooked (go figure) because of the other two Kishore/Lata songs that were picturised with Amitabh & Rekha. Those songs are great indeed but the producers felt Shashi's so good that they decided to open the movie with it. The video for the song is below...