News of thespian Shashi Kapoor; he of the most dazzling smile, being admitted to the ICU due to failing health has put a dampener on everyone’s spirits. Kapoor has been quite the recluse for a while, wheel-chair ridden with just a brief glimpse of recognition now and then at spotting family members and friends at Prithvi Theatre. But a visit to Prithvi would tell you that he’s quite the star attraction there. All those who troop into its iconic precincts of an institution so lovingly nurtured by Kapoor and his family — wife Jennifer, daughter Sanjana and son Kunal, have all taken their turn at keeping the legacy alive — hope to get a glimpse of the actor.
And if you are lucky enough, you do. Fortunately, many seasons ago at the very outset of my career when I was working for The Asian Age, I had the chance to interview him. Obviously, I was thrilled that an opportunity to meet one of my favourite stars from the ’70s-’80s era had come my way, but I wasn’t the only fan. I was the bearer of fan mail as practically every female colleague sent him sentimental notes and love poems. The actor was thrilled to receive them, surprised and cheerfully pointing out that he wasn’t quite in shape! He insisted that I gulp down a glass of nariyal paani before starting the interview, and then soon after ensured that I stuffed my face with the goodies that were served. During the course of the interview, he displayed the famous Kapoor charm and robust humour, reminiscing about his wife Jennifer, the heroines he had worked with and his acting career. Nanda, an established actress, at the time he made a foray into films, was the only one who had agreed to work with him despite his films not having scored at the box-office. He always remembered this good turn and mentioned that personally, he never objected to working with a newcomer. And the fact that all new heroines — Sharmila Tagore, Raakhee — were immensely good-looking made it a rather easy decision, he chuckled merrily.
The ravages of time and health may have deprived the actor of his joie-de-vivre but for his fans, he remains firmly ensconced as the most handsome and winsome actor of his generation, a testimony of his popularity. As for his versatile film-making interests, I will save that story for another day.
The bare-dare plot thickens. In the battle of the wrong and the wronged, with actress Deepika Padukone’s indignant voice has found unstinting support both from actresses, actors and their fans.
In fact, at the Pune Lit Fest where I was part of a discussion on the Superstar Syndrome, the question of insensitive media reportage, keeping in mind the said controversy came up, as did different points of view. It was pretty evident to all of us representing the media that people at large and specially youngsters are very much in Ms Padukone’s corner. The question now is whether women who dress skimpily in general and actresses in particular, have the right to accuse anyone of outraging their modesty by splashing their photos and highlight various parts of their anatomy in order to draw eyeballs?
The popular opinion at this point is tilting firmly towards ‘my body, my choice’ argument, and maybe it’s time to read the writing on the wall.
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