The man who jived and rock-and-rolled into our hearts is no more. Shammi Kapoor, the swashbuckling actor of the 1950s and 1960s, who redefined the image of the traditional hero to become an enduring style legend, died on Sunday, August 14, at the age of 79, after battling illness for years reported IANS.
According to AFP, Kapoor was India’s Elvis Presley, an actor who revitalised Bollywood’s song-and-dance sequences with a modern, racy style.
As one of the Kapoor acting dynasty, which has dominated Indian cinema virtually since its inception, he was perhaps always destined to be famous. But it was his dancing style that transformed Bollywood’s onscreen portrayal of love and romance into something more dynamic.
To look at Kapoor later in life — balding, with a grey beard and an expanded waistline — it was hard to imagine that he was an on screen heartthrob once. Key to his success was his avid interest in music. Kapoor personally selected the songs he would dance and mime to, mindful that they needed to fit his style.
Along with singers like Mohammed Rafi, Kapoor provided some of the industry’s most popular and memorable tunes. In later years, he would lament the lack of catchy songs in modern cinema.
Many suspected that Kapoor’s exuberant film persona masked his deficiencies as an actor, but he defied critics with strong performances in the 1966 murder mystery Teesri Manzil and Brahmachari in 1968.
As the 1970s arrived, Kapoor’s stardom was fading along with his youthful good looks, and a new romantic icon emerged in the shape of Rajesh Khanna. One of Kapoor’s last hits was Andaz in 1971.
His appearances became rarer and in later years his health failed and he was largely confined to a wheelchair.
An avid internet user, Kapoor maintained a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a website (www.junglee.org.in). “I don’t think I am ever going to be making any comeback,” he said in an interview with the Press Trust of India news agency in May 2010. “Wouldn’t that be asking too much from God?”
The legend’s son, Aditya Raj Kapoor described his father as a “happy and lively person” and hoped his fans would pray that his soul rests in peace.
“He was a very happy and lively person. His life was going good. But he was on dialysis and he died of kidney failure,” said Aditya who was at his father’s side when he breathed his last.
Bollywood icons like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor, who is Shammi Kapoor’s grandnephew, paid their homage to the late actor at his Malabar Hill home on Sunday evening.
Mourning his death, other actors, young and old, also expressed sadness over the era that had ended with his death. However, veteran film-maker Mahesh Bhatt urged people to envy the star for his contribution to Bollywood rather than mourn his death. “The effect of his joy will be with Bollywood always, so I request people to envy him and not to mourn him,” Bhatt told CNN-IBN news channel.
Born Shamserraj Kapoor on October 21, 1931, Shammi Kapoor was the son of the Bollywood actor Prithviraj Kapoor and brother of popular screen actors Raj and Shashi.
He first married Geeta Bali in 1955 and had a son and a daughter. Bali died of smallpox in 1965, and three years lae Kapoor married Neela Devi Gohil, an Indian aristocrat.
His cremation was held on Monday morning.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.