Random Recollection

Shashi Kapoor RIP

Yatindra Bhatnagar

As we were finalizing this edition, the sad news of one of India’s finest movie stars, Shashi Kapoor’s passing away made us very sad. Memories came back to me, especially of my meeting with Shashi on a flight from Delhi to Bombay in 1978 when he boarded from Bhopal and by chance, had a seat next to me.

We talked just like a fan and a star for almost the entire duration of the flight, nearly an hour. He told me about his trip to Bhopal for getting entertainment exemption for his new film Junoon (Obsession) pertaining to the period of 1857 when Indians fought against the British for their freedom. He told me the story (I had not seen the film.)

Junoon was produced by Shashi; his whole family (wife Jennifer, and their three children, Sanjana, Kunal and Karan) was featured in the movie. Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi were the other main actors. It was directed by Shyam Benegal, one of the best directors in India.

The film received several awards though was not a money-making blockbuster. But Shashi never cared for money.

As our plane started descent for landing, I thanked Shashi for the pleasant time and talks and said: hamara aur aapka bahut nikat ka sambandh  hai (we have very close relations.)  

I thought he got that ‘relation’ as between an actor and his fan and said, yes, yes. I added: Mai Sewakji ka putra hoon (I am son of Sewakji – as my father was widely known.)

Hearing that Shashi gave me a sweet smile and a tight hand-shake, and said: Voh to phir ghar ki baat hai (oh, then it’s like a family.)

My father was a friend of the Kapoor patriarch, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, and was helping him with Hindi-Urdu language for his Prithvi Theatre plays. Shashi and Jennifer took keen interest in Prithvi Theatre, much more than his two older brothers, Raj and Shammi. They had revived it.

My wife, Sadhana, was thrilled with my meeting with Shashi, was happy for me; and also once again, was all admiration for my father who had close connections with the First Family of Hindi movie industry.

Among Shashi’s notable movies are Dharmaputra, Kabhi Kabhie, Namak Halal, Deewar, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Kala Patthar, Sharmeeli.  He had 61 solo leads in movies, the most among the Kapoor clan, out of nearly 148 films, 12 with Amitabh Bachchan.