Legends don’t die, they live forever. That couldn’t be truer of the late Shashi Kapoor, who won the hearts of millions through his work across several decades. His contribution to Indian cinema and the stage will stay with us always. Here are some wonderful memories of the actor and the man shared by some of his colleagues and many admirers
Bhakti Mehta, Suranjana Biswas, Soumita Sengupta
The film industry has lost a legend. He was not only a good actor, but a very good human being too. He was a gentleman, always smiling and ready to chat. Our first work together was Mohabbat Isko Kehte Hai, also starring Nanda as leading lady. The song Thehriye hosh mein aa lo toh chale jayiyega… became very famous. And then we went on to do many more films. He was very humble and loving person. He used to gel with everyone on and off the sets. I pray that God gives his family strength.
Shashiji was a wonderful human being. He was also a very committed and professional actor. He wasn’t linked to any controversies and led a simple life. Even when he got a small or weak role, he would give it one hundred per cent because he was committed to it. Bahut mehnat se kaam karte the and he never complained. He never had a problem with anyone, whether he was playing the lead or the second hero. He worked with many big directors but never had an issue with anyone. He was a hard worker and gave everything to his work.
I have a special connection to Prithvi Theatre because I have always worked there. This theatre has been the biggest gift to the theatre and cultural scene of India and it was all thanks to Mr Shashi Kapoor. Because of Prithvi Theatre, there are so many new Hindi theatre groups that have come up. There were no restrictions and we never faced any problems because there was such a beautiful staff and management which was due to his graciousness. Personally, we all just loved him.
As long as he could, he would come to the theatre and sit in his chair. He would always see my plays and some of them he saw twice! When he felt that some performances were extremely good, he would send flowers or cake as appreciation, which was very sweet.
There was never a time when his warmth, affection and kindness towards the theatre and theatre people diminished. He was very fond of my work, especially when I started writing my own plays like Dayashankar Ki Dairy and Sakubai. He was very impressed and said, ‘Nadira, becoming a playwright was the best thing that has happened to you.’
I worked with him in two movies, Gautam Govinda and Krodhi in the late ’70s. I learnt a lot from him, like work ethics, discipline, time management, compassion, humility and above all his love and passion for good cinema and theatre development in India. He was a handsome gentleman with a beautiful mind and heart. An inspiring institution. R.I.P.
Naina was our first film together. I was very nervous but he made sure I was comfortable while working with him. There was a lot to learn from him. As an actor, he always supported his co-actors. With his passing, an era has ended. He was a real gentleman and it is just not possible to describe him in words.
I have very fond and dear memories of him; he was the first man whose smile made me go weak in the knees. We did a film together that he directed, and he was absolutely stupendous. He was a lovely and brilliant human being. He was also very kind. It is indeed a huge loss for all of us.
My career’s first film Ilzaam was with Shashiji and he touched my heart on the very first day, when he saw me dancing on stage in the shot. As a senior, he called me and his first wise words to me have stayed with me ever since: ‘Kisi din tum unchaai chuoge. Apni health ka khyaal rakhna.’ He was so kind and nice to me. I pray to God that his soul rests in peace.
Shashiji was the most charming and handsome man in our industry. He had a huge fan following and everyone loved him; he was a gentleman who cared about everyone around him. There are many good-looking heroes today, but there is only one Shashi Kapoor. Everyone around him always loved him. He was particular about following a disciplined life, which is why he lived life to the fullest.
I never once saw him assert his ego or throw attitude or arrogance towards anyone on the sets. And I believe that is why everyone loved him so much. People who worked with him once wanted to work with him again and again. He was a favourite among producers, co-actors, directors and everyone on the sets. The industry has experienced a major loss.
He was such a fine human being and a polished man. I always called him ‘Shashi uncle’. I didn’t act with him in Satyam Shivam Sundaram but I interacted so much with him as I am very close to the Kapoor family. He was such a happy, jovial man, I never saw him sulking, morose, or angry.
When a shot used to be delayed or if something went wrong somewhere, he never once lost his temper. That’s how I remember him. I don’t know how to explain it but he kind of tried to reconcile people in the industry. The way he used to introduce himself, saying, ‘Mera naam hai Shashi Kapoor’ was so impactful!
The day Shashi Kapoorji passed away was the saddest day of my life, the man to whom I owe my entire career. I am grateful to him for all my professional achievements, for giving me my first and biggest break as a lead in Utsav opposite Rekha. I will miss him every moment of my life. I grew up imitating him and trying to look like him. I can’t bear the thought that he is no more. I am heartbroken.
I have seen many of his films over the years. I have been very fond of Mr Shashi Kapoor as he was very charming and a wonderful actor. He had a different kind of style that was distinctively his own. And above all, he was a very good human being. Even his face had that goodness about him which would just show you how innocent he is. I have even seen his earlier works as a child artist. I used to work as an assistant for Mr Raj Kapoor so I knew Shashiji and the entire Kapoor family very well. Whenever I would get the opportunity to meet Shashiji, it would be wonderful to just talk to him and joke around with him. He would always speak to me with warmth and love. The time I have spent with him, the good memories I had, vanished for a few moments when I heard the news of his demise. He was an excellent human being, a fantastic actor and a wonderful friend. It has been a huge loss for all. I would go to the Prithvi theatre many times to watch plays or just sit there. I would see the energy there and the actors who were performing plays and it seemed amazing the kind of platform Shashiji created and left behind for the theatre world. I would keep meeting Shashiji as I was working with Raj sahab. Every single meeting was good that it has a very special place in my heart. So when I heard about him passing away, I was extremely sad. Everyone has to go some day but some people just leave a void in your life when they go and Shashi sahab was that kind of person. This loss will always be there for us because he was not only a good actor but a spectacular human being too. Whomever one speaks, they all have similar stories about him because of the person he was. If someone met him even once, they would never forget that meeting as Shashiji met everyone with such openness and love, it was just beautiful.
For me, he was the most charismatic actor and also a style icon. He was also very well-educated and had a fantastic sense of humour. I worked on the film Akhri Muqabla with him, where I played the villain and he was the central character. He was immaculate and very sophisticated, not at all loud like the other typical Indian actors. He was a pioneer of the new-age cinema that we talk about now. He was the one who started offbeat films, the ones that Shyam Benegal made. He lost so much money making these films. He always thought that since he had done so well in commercial films, it was his duty to give back to Indian cinema by making meaningful and good movies.
When I came to Bombay from Bhopal in the ’80s, I acted in a play called Laila Majnu.
Shashiji saw the play and liked it so much that he kept praising it. He told us this was a play that would be remembered forever. When the Prithvi Theatre festival was held in 1987, he told us to open that prestigious festival with Laila Majnu. This was how my connection with him began.
One of the first friends I made in the industry was Rishi Kapoor. I was close to his brothers too, especially Dabbooji (Randhir Kapoor). When we were all in New York for the shoot of Aa Ab Laut Chalen, Shashi uncle was there to give the first clap.
I learnt that he had passed away when Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) messaged me about it. I was so saddened that instead of saying anything myself, I wrote a few lines on Shashiji and sent it to Amitji, which he put on his blog.
My only regret is that while I did get many opportunities to interact with him, I didn’t get a chance to actually work with him. Sadly, I was too junior for that. Whenever one is around him, one feels so nice. Unse haath milaane aur gale milne mein hi itna acha lagta tha. When he smiled at you, it made your day. And that is why it hurt to see him in a wheelchair during these last few years. It was great to have known a man like him.
As an actor, he was brilliant. He was one of the most handsome actors of his time and I don’t think the Hindi film industry has ever seen a more good-looking actor than him. I had the pleasure of meeting him just once in my life. He was a very warm and welcoming person. When you are in his company, you are surrounded by his aura. People have grown up watching his movies. My only regret is that I didn’t get a chance to work with him.
Unfortunately for me, I joined the industry after he had retired, so I didn’t get the opportunity to work with him. But I recall an encounter I once had with him before I became an actor.
Years ago, I was attending a friend’s wedding. She was a cashier in a bank in South Bombay, where Shashi Kapoor personally went to get his transactions done. It speaks a lot for him, that despite being a star, he would run his own errands instead of appointing someone to do them for him. So when he went to the bank, my friend, as a gesture, invited him to her wedding. He actually showed up for the celebration and took everyone by surprise! The entire Parsi baug went crazy that their darling Shashi Kapoor was there.
Coincidentally, my seat was right next to his and he was so sweet and humble that he casually chatted with me throughout dinner. He spoke to me as if he was just another guest and, that too, for a very long time. He didn’t behave like a star at all and was so gracious to everyone. He enjoyed the Parsi food along with a drink and thanked everyone so sweetly.
I was around 25 or 26-years-old at that time and he spoke to me so nicely that it stuck with me. At that point, I didn’t have any plans to work in the film industry but there were some lessons to be learnt in the way he interacted with all his fans. He smiled for everyone and took pictures with them. That is something I learnt first-hand from him.
He then went to wish the couple and my friend went absolutely mad that he was there. She almost fainted! He left such a charming aura on that place that it made everyone smile. This is how one should be. You could be famous, a star but when it is someone else’s party, you should be gracious as a guest and treat everyone well.
I have been a part of the theatre world and have frequented Prithvi Theatre quite a bit but I never actually got to interact with Shashiji on a one-on-one basis. However, I have a good bond with his children, Sanjana and Kunal, and the kind of people they are is a testament to their parents. He taught his children to be so nice and humble towards each and every member of the staff at Prithvi. He has been such a boon to the theatre industry, the kind of community he has created is amazing.
When I came here decades ago, I was told that there was no charge to showcase one’s art at Prithvi Theatre. That kind of dedication is commendable because someone else would have built a building and made money out of it. Instead, Shashiji made sure it helped the theatre world. Everyone I have spoken to has said that he has been one of the most wonderful actors and producers in the industry. Just look at his spectacular filmography! He had a genuine warmth about him and to have seen him ailing, to see him passing away, was saddening.
Divya Khosla Kumar
He has left behind a void in the hearts of many cinema lovers. One of India’s most handsome and talented actors, whose work we will cherish forever. May his soul rest in peace.
Shashi Kapoorji was an icon of Hindi cinema. He won’t be forgotten, his work will shine in the history of our movies. He is with us with his filmography and the love he spread.
Innumerable Bollywood dreams came to life watching his iconic dialogue, “Mere paas maa hai.” His tremendous contribution to cinema will always be remembered. I was once told that he showed up as a member of the audience at one of our stagings at Prithvi. That pretty much has been the high point of my career, yet. Thank you for your movies and keeping it real in times of adrenaline-charged, angry young men. Shashi Kapoor was one of India’s biggest stars.
I have distributed many of his films, Aa Gale Lag Ja, Deewar, etc. All of them were hits because he was such a big star, everybody loved him. He was also a very nice person. I met him for the first time when he had gone to Bangalore to promote Utsav back then. He was a very warm person.
Most of his films released before I started my career properly but I did distribute one of his last films, In Custody, and it did quite well. Of course, we all know that his other films also did amazing business before that. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to talk to him much. No one has ever said anything ill about him and no one ever will because he was genuinely nice.