Monday, March 18, 2013

Shashi Kapoor - overlooked but never overshadowed



One of my all time favorite actors, Shashi Kapoor (ne Balbir Raj Kapoor) turns 75 today. This year also marks the 65th anniversary of his debut on the silver screen in his brother Raj Kapoor's movie 'Aag'. And finally, this year would have been the 55th wedding anniversary to his beloved wife Jennifer (who passed away from cancer in 1984) with whom he had three children. This is a reposting of a write up I did several years ago to 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 - 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, how 'Shashilicious' he is and so on and so forth.



I missed much of his early career in the 60's & 70's but after seeing him in 'Chor Sipahee' during my first trip back to India in 1977 I instantly became a fan. I remember having lengthy discourses with Indian friends about who was better, Amitabh or Shashi? Even when renting VHS tapes at the Indian grocery store I would ask my parents to only get the 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 heroes and asking me to pick between them simply cannot be done. Amitabh was larger than life - an impossibly tall superman of an actor, with movie star good looks, sporting perfectly coiffed hair and 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...

http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/bollywood-roots/shashi-kapoor-s-spectacular-bollywood-journey/226639

But Shashi? He was of average height at best, had curly hair that had a mind of it's own, who had a distinctive voice indeed but nothing earth-shaking and while 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 Sar Se 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...