Remembering Film Legend Shammi Kapoor


Bollywood is still reeling from the demise of its rock n’ roll hero Shamsher Raj Kapoor, better known as Shammi Kapoor.

Shammi is hailed as one of the finest performers that Hindi cinema ever produced. An extremely versatile actor, he was one of the leading stars of Hindi cinema during the late 1950s, the 1960s and early 70′s.

He debuted in Bollywood in 1953 with the film Jeevan Jyoti, and went on to star in numerous hits including Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Dil Deke Dekho, Junglee, Dil Tera Diwana, Professor, China Town, Rajkumar, Kashmir Ki Kali, Janwar, Teesri Manzil, An Evening in Paris, Bramhachari, Andaz and Vidhaata.

He received the Filmfare Best Actor Award in 1968 for his performance in Brahmachari and again for Best Supporting Actor for Vidhaata in 1982.

Shammi was born to theatre actor Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Mehra in 1931. He was the second of the three sons born to Prithviraj (the other two being Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor).

Though he was born in Mumbai, Shammi spent a major portion of his childhood in Kolkata, where his father worked. It was in Kolkata that he did his Montessory and Kindergarten. After returning to Mumbai, he first went to St. Joseph’s Convent (Wadala) and then, to Don Bosco School. He finished his schooling from New Era School at Hughes Road.

Shammi Kapoor had a short stint at Ruia College, in Matunga, Mumbai, before joining his father’s theatrical company. He stayed with Prithvi Theatres for the next four years before his Bollywood debut

Shammi Kapoor met future wife Geeta Bali in 1955 while shooting Rangeen Raaten, where she played a cameo. They fell in love and were married four months later at Banganga Temples, near Napean Sea Road of Mumbai.

Shammi and Geeta had their first child, Aditya Raj Kapoor, on 1 July 1956, at Shirodkar’s Hospital, Mumbai. Five years later they welcomed their daughter Kanchan.

Tragedy struck in 1965, when Geeta died of small pox, leaving Shammi with two small children. In 1969, Shammi re-married Neela Devi Gohil, a member of the former royal family of Bhavnagar in Gujarat.  At this point the actor was maturing and nearing the end of his film career. Andaz (1971) was one of his last hits.

Shammi Kapoor will be remembered for his high energy and Renaissance spirit. He was the first Bollywood star to join Twitter, and despite being wheelchair-bound in his final days maintained an active social life through the virtual channels.

In 2006, he told interviewers that he underwent dialysis three times a week. Irrepressible even then, this punishing regimen has failed to depress him. Rather, he said that he was thankful to God for giving him so much.

He died of renal failure around 5:15am on 14 August 2011 at Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for chest infection.


Author: NitaNaidoo

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