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Shashi Kapoor celebrates 74th birthday: An ode to unsung hero of Hindi cinema

March 19, 2012 03:44:10 PM IST
Enkayaar, Glamsham Editorial
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If workaholic were to have a poster boy in Hindi cinema, Shashi Kapoor who celebrates his 74th birthday would be its worthy brand ambassador. At the peak of his career he was working in so many films simultaneously that he was fondly known as 'Taxi' Kapoor, literally taxiing from one set to another during the course of a day.


But one fine day he just quit the industry and walked away from the arc light and allowed himself to slowly fade away from the memory of the public, and a generation that grew up during the last decade or so may or may not even be aware of the monumental contribution of Shashi Kapoor for the Indian film industry. He was the first poster boy indeed, who deployed his resources to prop up alternate cinema and give it a sense of identity, and he did that by using his charm to cajole his mainstream commercial colleagues to work with him. Were it not for 36 CHOWRINGEE LANE, UTSAV, KALYUG, VIJETA, etc., Hindi cinema would have been identified only through a song and dance drama. But using the metaphor of song and drama Shashi Kapoor gave the idiom a new look. If one were to talk about the power of media and how it is exploited, then one need not go further than see NEW DELHI TIMES, which was a film way ahead of its times, and underlined the importance of media, and also brought into relief the pressures that an editor has to endure to perform his job.

The present generation may know him through his dialogue from DEEWAR, "Bhai Tum Sign Karoge Ya Nahee", but Big B had gone on record to say that he had the most stimulating phase of an acting career along with Shashi Kapoor and cheekily reference was also made about the fact that Shashi Kapoor was the best heroine that Big B had. Indeed, if one were to look into the number of hits that the pair gave starting from DEEWAR, right up to SHAAN, such pairing of two co-stars has not been achieved on the silver screen by Hindi cinema.

Starting his acting career under the shadow of his two successful brothers Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor was able to carve out a niche for himself with his own style of acting that was characterized a certain sense of paced performance through mannerisms and dialogue deliveries. So even in romantic situations like in SHARMILEE there was an element of hurriedness that added a sense of zest to the enactment and interpretation of the role.

He had made a mark for himself through his performance manifest from the fact that he enacted a double role in his career in the form of SHANKAR DADA. But for sure Shashi Kapoor had reserved his best for the alternate cinema and among his scintillating performance in this category was the role of a Nawab in JUNOON, which was able to create the aura of the Mughal era with a rare finesse. In the same manner the wasted life of poet in MUHAFIZ was his hallmark of performance, which in the alternate form of cinema was characterized by underplaying the character.

As long as cinema is alive Shashi Kapoor would hold a place of his own in the hearts of his fans, for giving a new meaning of life to alternate cinema. May be, as a tribute to reaching 75th year of his life next year, somebody should come out with a compilation of all his arty films in one place to tell the world his contribution to the cause of cinema, and that would be the ultimate tribute to one of the most unsung heroes of Hindi cinema.


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