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Happy Birthday Shashi Kapoor: Bollywood's Raja Saab @78

March 18, 2016 08:18
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    The youngest son of theatre and film actor Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni "Rama" Mehra Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor was born Balbir Raj Prithviraj Kapoor on March 18, 1938 in Calcutta (now Kolkata).

    Shashi Kapoor was one of the first Indian actors to achieve success in both Bollywood and parallel cinema and the multi-faceted star donned many hats in his over five-decade-long career.

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    Shashi Kapoor is the younger brother of late actors Raj and Shammi Kapoor. All three Kapoor brothers were stars in their own right, and had long and illustrious careers.

    The young Shashi went to Don Bosco High School in Matunga, Bombay (now Mumbai).

    He grew up traveling around the country with his father's theatre group, Prithvi. He began appearing on stage from the age of four.

    As a child, he appeared in mythological films as well as in the films of his eldest brother Raj Kapoor. He played the younger version of the characters played by his older brother Raj Kapoor in Aag (1948) and Awaara (1951).

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    Shashi Kapoor first met his wife Jennifer Kendal (later Jennifer Kapoor) in 1956 in Calcutta. At the time, he was working as an actor and assistant stage manager for Prithvi while she was playing Miranda in the play The Tempest, as part of the Shakespeareana theatre group, run by her father Geoffrey Kendal.

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    In true filmy style, Shashi had to win over not just the woman of his dreams but also her disapproving father. A romance blossomed, helped by Shammi Kapoor's wife, actress Geeta Bali. They married in July 1958, much before Shashi Kapoor became a Bollywood star.

    Jennifer and Shashi starred together in a number of films, particularly those produced by Merchant Ivory Productions. The two were instrumental in reviving the Prithvi theatre group, and in establishing the actual theatre itself in Mumbai.

    Jennifer Kapoor died of cancer in 1984.

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    Jennifer and Shashi Kapoor had three children - Karan, Kunal Kapoor and Sanjana. All three looked for Bollywood careers with little luck.

    Karan Kapoor debuted with Sultanat (1986) and later acted in Loha (1987). He also appeared in the British TV series The Jewel in the Crown in 1984 and modeled for major Indian brands, including Bombay Dyeing.

    Shashi's daughter Sanjana was the first woman in the Kapoor family to act but found no success beyond stage and television. She has worked in films like 36 Chowringhee Lane, UtsavHero Hiralal and Salaam Bombay

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    Shashi Kapoor made his debut as a leading man in Bollywood with Yash Chopra's film Dharmputra (1961). He played the role of Dilip Rai in the film.

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    His first Merchant Ivory film, 1963's The Householder (Gharbar), also starred late actress Leela Naidu.

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    Shashi Kapoor had three releases in 1965, which included BR Chopra's Waqt, another Merchant Ivory production Shakespeare Wallah and Jab Jab Phool Khile. Of the three, Jab Jab Phool Khile became a blockbuster hit. The movie, which is still remembered for its songs, had Shashi Kapoor's favourite heroine Nanda, playing the female lead.

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    The year 1967 didn't prove to be a very good year for Shashi as both of his releases, Aamne Saamne and Pretty Polly flopped at the box office. The latter was a British film directed by Guy Green.

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    1968, was the year of double roles for Shashi Kapoor. Haseena Maan Jayegi and Kanyadaan both had him playing dual characters.

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    Shashi Kapoor was seen in the 1969 hit movie Pyar Ka Mausam, directed by Nasir Hussain. One of its songs Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan was a super hit. The movie also starred Bharat Bhushan and Asha Parekh.

    Another Merchant Ivory production, Bombay Talkies, released in 1970. Shashi Kapoor's wife Jennifer Kendal played the female lead in the movie.

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    In 1971, Shashi Kapoor acted in another superhit movie Sharmeelee. Rakhee played a double role in the movie, which had music by SD Burman.

    Shashi played the main protagonist in the movie Siddhartha (1972). Simi Garewal's nude scene in the film caused a huge controversy at a time when even on-screen kissing was rare in Indian films.

    Aa Gale Lag Ja starring Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore and Shatrughan Sinha released in 1973. The movie became a hit.

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    Roti Kapda Aur Makaan starring Shashi Kapoor, Manoj Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan became the biggest hit of 1974. It was the first of many hit films starring Shashi and Amitabh.

    Shashi Kapoor gave another hit the same year with the movie Chor Machaye Shor, opposite Mumtaz.

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    Deewar (1975) was yet another blockbuster. The movie is still remembered for the famous dialogue Mere paas maa hai, spoken by Shashi Kapoor. Directed by late Yash Chopra, the movie tells the story of two brothers who struggle to survive on the streets of Mumbai and end up on opposite sides of the law.

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    Produced and directed by the late Yash Chopra, Kabhie Kabhie (1976) was a huge commercial success. Apart from Shashi Kapoor, the movie also starred Amitabh Bachchan, Waheeda Rehman, Rakhee, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh. The movie was also noted for its soundtrack.

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    After a dull phase in 1976 and 1977, Shashi Kapoor bounced back with Trishul in 1978, which also starred Sanjeev Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan.

    Then came Raj Kapoor's Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), which had Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman in the lead. The film faced a stiff battle in getting past the Censor Board because of some of its scenes, including one showing a bare-backed Zeenat.

    In the same year, Shashi Kapoor released his first production Junoon, directed by Shyam Benegal and co-starring his wife Jennifer.

    His other movies Suhaag and Kaala Pathar also released in the same year.

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    Shashi Kapoor teamed-up with Amitabh Bachchan again in Do Aur Do Paanch, Shaan (1980), and Silsila (1981).

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    Shashi and Mr Bachchan were back with the blockbuster Namak Halaal in 1982. The movie's memorable music are considered classics of the disco era.

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    In 1983, Shashi Kapoor appeared in another Merchant Ivory movie Heat and Dust.

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    After a gap of three years Shashi Kapoor returned to the big screen with Romesh Sharma's New Delhi Times (1986). The movie dealt with the issue of political corruption and media and many distributors refused to run the film. The same movie later went on to win three National Awards.

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    The aging Shashi Kapoor was then seen doing character roles in movies like Ijaazat, Pyaar Ki Jeet and Clerk. He also continued to feature in some other movies by Merchant Ivory Productions.

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    Shashi Kapoor had also produced and directed the Amitabh Bachchan starrer Ajooba in 1991. He has also produced movies like Junoon (1978), Kalyug (1980), 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), Vijeta (1982), Utsav (1984), Raman (1993).

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    In 2011, Shashi Kapoor received the Padma Bhushan. He has also won the National Award thrice, and a slew of film awards.

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    In 2015, Shashi Kapoor received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest honour in Indian Cinema. At the award ceremony most of the Kapoors and his leading ladies like Zeenat Aman, Shabana Azmi, Rekha, Neetu Singh formed his cheerleading squad.

    We wish the actor a very Happy Birthday.

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