Remembering Shammi Kapoor – In His Own Words, by his Leading Ladies
Shammi Kapoor passed away after a long battle with cancer. Though he was sick all this time, the late actor was always energetic. He was always spotted at award shows or any other function that he was invited to. Today, we have here a couple of quotes from him as well as his co-stars’ words on how the late superstar was during his prime years in films.
I belong to the era when films were simple, they didn’t tax your brains. My films were not thought-provoking, they were hardcore entertainers.
Rafisaab was my voice. After his death, I lost my voice. I cried like hell.
I never learnt how to dance; never had a dance master. When I was 18-19 years old, I joined a dancing school in Dadar to learn the tango. They used to charge 20 for an hour. After spending 100, I realised that I hadn’t learnt anything. But I always gave expressions as required to my songs.
I will never forget Teesri Manzil. It was during the shooting of the film that I suffered the saddest moment of my life — I lost my wife (Geeta Bali) in 1965. I was shattered, but had to continue shooting.
I have been going to the hospital thrice a week for dialysis for the last seven years. There are millions of well-wishers who pray for me, bless me so that I remain healthy and return home safe. Believe me, Internet is the best medium to connect with lost friends.
Saira Banu (Junglee & Zameer)
During Junglee, he was very upset with me’ When I was offered Junglee, I had come down for my holidays from London. At that point, the only heroes I had heard of were Dilip Saab, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. I hadn’t watched a single film of Shammi Saab. The first thing we shot was the Yahoo song in Srinagar. I had no idea how to lip sync or react to the music. He was so upset with me.
He told me that I was wasting time, and that I should learn acting. It made me so angry that I took it as a challenge to do the song right. It became a cult number. We were offered a lot of films together, which I refused to sign because I was still upset with him. Now I feel I could have done so much more work with him. But we were family friends; Yusuf Saab (Dilip Kumar) and he would speak in Punjabi for hours. I will never forget those moments.
Sharmila Tagore (Kashmir Ki Kali & An Evening In Paris)
He was not at all like his family’ He was not like the rest of the Kapoors. He was completely out-of-the-box, and that’s what everyone loved about him. When I first heard that I was doing my first Hindi film with Shammi Kapoor, I couldn’t really believe my ears. But it is when I started working with him that I realised what a fine actor he was. On screen his mannerisms and eccentricities would overshadow a lot of other elements, but he was an extremely sensitive performer ¦ you can see that in the song Ishaaron ishaaron mein in Kashmir Ki Kali. That quality of acting comes from theatre, which is where he first began his training.
Asha Parekh (Dil Deke Dekho, Teesri Manzil, Pagla Kahin Ka & Jawan Mohabbat)
We shared a rapport…’ He was a great person. He loved life and lived it to the utmost ¦he was a very happy-go-lucky human being. I started my career with him, so there was a very comfortable rapport between us. In fact, I met him a few months back and there was nothing so serious. I think everyone should learn how to value life and live it to the fullest from Shammiji.
He would try to outdo himself each time’ The last time I met Shammiji was in Atlanta at an awards function many years ago. I remember his smiling face even when he was on the wheelchair. As an actor, I would say he was very self-involved, trying to master every move. That’s what created such a trademark style for him. He would try and outdo himself each time. There was a sequence in Prince where Helen, Shammiji and I had a musical number to perform. It was like three different styles of dance coming together. But even then, he stood out.
Hema Malini (Andaz)
Spirituality transformed him’ I was very scared to work with him because I had heard he was a very boisterous personality. Plus I was very new to the industry, so I was anyway intimidated by many other actors. However, when I met him, I realised how nice and gentle a person he was. In fact, Andaz was one film where he wasn’t jumping around; it was a much more controlled performance. I still remember the song ‘Dil use do, jo jaan de de’ where he had to make me dance. I was surprised by how flexible and charming he was when he took to the dance floor. He used to choreograph himself most of the times, and the cameramen would have a tough time trying to capture his moves. It was when he became spiritual that I got very close to his family. His wife and he used to go to a babaji in Nainital and would always invite me.
Sadhana (Rajkumar & Badtameez)
He used to lend me books all the time’ I have to confess that initially I was a little apprehensive about working with Shammi Kapoor because I did not know if I would be compatible with him as a co-star. But it was an absolute delight to work with him. He was not just a co-star, but also a friend and a guide. The one thing that stood out was his sense of humour. He would make everyone laugh, easing the tension. Not many know this, but he was a voracious reader and he had an excellent library at home. He used to suggest authors and books to me, and sometimes even force me to read stuff. There was and will be no one like him.
He loved entertaining people’ I did just one film with Shammiji, but we were good family friends. He was a very generous person. But he was also a little short-tempered with people who managed to rub him the wrong way. He had many friends and he loved entertaining people. I think he did not get his due until Pagla Kahin Ka and Bramhachari. I was just 18 when I gave my first shot with him, and even then I could very well gauge what an excellent performer he was. You can never ever compare him with anyone because there will never be another Shammi Kapoor.
He treated co-stars with dignity’ In my hay days, I never had a chance to work with Shammi Kapoor. But I remember he had always expressed a desire to act with me someday. Finally, in 1982, Raj Kapoor cast us together in Premrog. Shammi was a very affectionate person. He knew how to treat every heroine and co-actor with dignity, something which today’s generation totally lacks.