Nafisa Ali: Shashi Kapoor lived in a glass house and enjoyed sharing the view

Actors and friends remember Shashi Kapoor, the versatile actor with a big heart

Updated: December 5, 2017 7:17 am
Shashi Kapoor dead Shashi Kapoor

Sharmila Tagore, actor

I knew Shashi for a long time, I’d say we were friends. So today, it’s a friend I have lost. Waqt (1965) was our first film together and the song Din hai bahaar ke, shot in Nainital, became very popular among the youth and we became icons of sorts. After Waqt, we worked together in many projects, such as Suhana Safar (1970), Anari (1975), Swati (1986). But New Delhi Times (1986) was special because he delivered a wonderful performance and it was also a very different film for him. I had just started dating Tiger (Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi) when we were shooting for Aamne Samne (1967) in Shimla. Tiger visited me on the sets where he met Shashi; they instantly became friends. Later, we three also spent time together in Africa, while shooting for My Love (1970).

On the sets, we would indulge in a lot of banter. He would introduce himself saying, ‘Hi, I am Shashi Kapoor’, and I would say, ‘So sorry to hear that’.

I learnt a lot from Shashi. He had the habit of talking to everyone, from the technicians to the electricians. One day, I was asked if I could shoot for longer than planned and I refused. He told me that if I could extend, the junior artistes will get paid for another half shift. That made me realise that filmmaking was also about crew members other than the stars. He was a very kind human being, someone who really looked after his crew. That also made him a wonderful producer. Amitabh Bachchan was supposed to do Utsav (1984) but when he had an injury, Shashi stepped in. He also produced the film. He picked projects that were different and of a certain quality. He had a vision and understanding of what is good. He later went through tough times, when he owed people a lot of money. It took some time but he paid them all back. He was an honourable man who is loved by everyone in the industry, not one person will have a bad thing to say about him. Shashi’s contribution towards theatre is also commendable. He didn’t let Prithvi whither off after Jennifer. But after her, he wasn’t the same person. He had been so ill for so many years that this perhaps is a relief.

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Shatrughan Sinha, actor-politician

The gentlest of the Kapoors, Shashi was a wonderful man. I have worked with him in quite a few films, including Shaan and Kaala Pathar. What I remember him most for is his smile. On the sets he would never behave like the star he was, he would talk to everyone. He was also very popular with women and had a huge female fan following. He was always nice to them and would often oblige with autographs. It is commendable that he continued to support theatre despite his ill-health.

Govind Nihalani, filmmaker

He was without doubt a very good actor and one without prejudice towards any kind of cinema. He had his roots in both cinema and theatre and never gave up one for the other. Within the cinematic medium, he stayed versatile. He was part of some highly acclaimed projects, including Kalyug (1981) and Junoon (1979), which I’d say stand out in his career. He has acted in, helped produce, and in some cases, himself produced important films of the time. But he was also a star and handled mainstream cinema with equal ease. Some of his performances in the mainstream have been as charming and touching as his portrayals in non-mainstream have been realistic. But you could see that his heart wasn’t content with being just an actor. He wanted to contribute in a much greater way, even as a producer. I realised he was a dream producer when he backed my directorial project Vijeta (1982), in which he also acted. Once the project started, the faith between the director and the producer was total. His wish to make a lasting contribution perhaps came through theatre. Jennifer and Shashi were passionate about theatre and have left behind their legacy in Prithvi Theatre. No other such space exists elsewhere in the country even today, thanks to their children who are equally passionate about theatre.

Nafisa Ali

Nafisa Ali, actor-activist

I have been the luckiest girl, at the age of 21, to have come into the world of cinema through Shashi, who was my producer and co-star in Junoon. In the film industry, people move on after a film but the Kapoors and we have always been friends. That is the uniqueness of the Kapoor family. This tradition of being welcoming, bonding, strength and courage was what Shashi taught his children as Prithviraj Kapoor had taught his. Shashi had been my friend for 40 years. He had been keeping unwell for a long time and I always met him when I was in Mumbai. His eldest son, Kunal, looked after him so well, so his passing is so sad.

Shashi wasn’t only a great actor and legend but also a phenomenal human being. When you talk about tehzeeb and culture, that’s what Shashi was and that’s what all his family members are. We have lost a phenomenal role model. I wish the youth of India really knew him as I did. What a wonderful way he took care of us all during Junoon. It was like one big, grand and continuous work-party. We didn’t go in separate cars; we all crammed into one car and had fun, chatting and laughing. That was the thing about Shashi — he lived in a glass house and enjoyed sharing the view.

Read | Shashi Kapoor: Second to None

Asha Parekh, actor

Even though I knew that he was ill for a long time, his death comes as a shock to me. He was very gentlemanly. We worked together in Kanyaadan and Pyaar Ka Mausam. While shooting for Kanyadaan in Kulu Manali, some actors and Mohan Segal (director) had gone for sightseeing. Our car broke down and we were stranded close to a forest. Shashiji — who had stayed behind with Jennifer (his wife) — actually came looking for us because he was told that there were bears in the forest. He treated the whole unit like his family. As opposed to his on-screen persona of being very dignified and stately, he was very mischievous on the sets, always cracking everyone up.

Poonam Dhillon, actor

I worked with Shashi uncle in my very first film, Trishul. He was extremely helpful and humble. He spoke to everyone, from the director to co-actors, line man and the spot boy. On the sets, he was very funny and hands-on. One thing that always struck me about him was that he never left the sets once he was there. He would never go to his room and leave instructions to call him when the shot is ready. I met him about two years ago. He still had the same charm and wit. He said, “Kya baat hai, badi achchi lag rahi hai” in the same flirty way that he used to earlier. I could see that even though he was confined to a wheel chair, he still had the same zest for life and his eyes still twinkled with the same intelligence.

Complied by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza, Ektaa Malik, Dipanita Nath

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