Shashi Kapoor Birthday: A glimpse at ten best films of India’s first international movie star on his birth anniversary.
Shashi Kapoor Birthday Special: Shashi Kapoor, the son of late Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Mehra Kapoor, is also known as the younger brother of the showman Raj Kapoor and India’s Elvis Presley Shammi Kapoor. Shashi was born in Kolkata as Balbir Raj Kapoor, also known as Shashi Raj Kapoor, the third sibling to Ranbir Raj Kapoor (the Kapoor scion from Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar was given the name by his late legendary grandfather) and Shamsher Raj Kapoor respectively. Shashi, apart from acting in classic Hindi films like Deewar, Trishul, Kabhi Kabhie and Kaala Patthar also acted in international collaborations of Merchant-Ivory Productions, making him India’s first global movie star. A glimpse at the best works from the late actor’s filmography.
SHASHI KAPOOR’S BEST CLASSIC GEMS:
The period drama directed by Yash Chopra based on British rule in India and the aftermaths of partition is even relevant today. The film is a reflection of social realities that how politics and hatred can radicalize young minds. Shashi plays Dilip Rai, born to biological Muslim parents raised by a Hindu family, unaware of his lineage. He develops communal hatred because of India-Pakistan tension. Shashi’s portrayal of a grey character is one of his bravest roles in his movie career.
THE HOUSEHOLDER (1963)
The English film of Merchant Ivory Productions was produced by Ismail Merchant and directed by James Ivory. It showcased the marital relations in India’s middle-class joint family. The screenplay was co-written by Ivory and German novelist and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. It was based on the novel written by Ruth. The first international project of Shashi Kapoor set in the backdrop of Hindi heartland was shot in English. The film depicting patriarchal Indian households also has Leela Naidu and Durga Khote in crucial roles.
The Yash Chopra directorial about three brothers separated in childhood and their reunion has all the elements of desi melodrama. Shashi Kapoor subtly underplayed his character of the poignant chauffer struggling to get money for his cancer-stricken mother’s treatment. His romantic chemistry with Sharmila Tagore in the heart-touching track Din Hai Bahar Ke is one of the rare cinematic moments from musicals.
SHAKESPEARE WALLAH (1965)
Another gem from Merchant-Ivory Productions had Shashi Kapoor in the lead role along with his in-laws, the Kendall family. Shashi’ sister-in-law Felicity Kendall starred opposite him in the movie. The film was ahead of its time in many ways as it showcased on-screen intimacy between Shashi and Felicity at a time when kissing scenes were rare in Hindi films. The movie maverick Satyajit Ray composed the music for the film. The actor’s father-in-law Geoffrey Kendall and his daughter played their fictionalized counterparts, the Buckinghams.
AA GALE LAG JAA (1973)
Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore played pivotal roles in Manmohan Desai’s romantic melodrama which was ahead of its time. The movie highlighted on pre-marital sex and pregnancy which was considered a societal stigma for a long time. The film broke all kinds of social taboos through its engaging storytelling and wonderful music score. Shatrughan Sinha also did a great job in a crucial character. The film set a benchmark in music with its heart-touching song Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. One of the must watch films of one of the most charming and talented actors of Hindi cinema.
The Yash Chopra directorial starring Amitabh Bachchan in pivotal role showcased face-off between brothers. The noir-drama about a smuggler and his younger brother, who is a policeman is still considered one of the best narratives created in Bollywood masala movies. The famous dialogue Mere Paas Maa Hai connected beyond geographic barrier because of the universal emotional appeal. Despite Big B’s swagger and angry-young-man avatar, Shashi’s grounded portrayal set a benchmark in acting.
KABHI KABHIE (1976)
Yash Chopra’s love saga is still a rage as its title track is the perfect anthem for die-hard romantics across different age-groups. Apart from the songs and Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh’s young blossoming romance, Shashi Kapoor’ character stole the show. He played a cool Dad who drinks with his son and is even accepting of the fact that his wife played by Raakhee Gulzar was in love with Amitabh Bachchan earlier. The dialogue from the film that made Shashi steal the show is with his interaction with his on-screen wife where she asked him “Yeh batao Vijay tum insaan ke roop mein devata ho, ya devata ke roop mein insaan” (Tell me Vijay, are you god in the form of a human being or a human being in the form of god?)”. He responds to her by saying “Is duniya mein, aadmi agar insaan ban jaaye toh bahut badi baat hai.” (If a man can become a human being in this world, it can be the best thing to happen.)”.
Shashi Kapoor essayed the role of Javed Khan in the 1979 historical drama directed by Shyam Benegal. The movie also stars Nafisa Ali and Shashi’s actress wife Jennifer Kendall. The film based on Ruskin Bond’s A Flight of Pigeons won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and Filmfare award for Best Director as well. Shashi was also the producer of the movie that got screened at various international film festivals.
BOMBAY TALKIE (1970)
The Indian satirical drama based on the Mumbai film industry was co-written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and James Ivory. Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendall played romantic leads opposite each other in the film directed by Ivory. The Merchant-Ivory Productions venture also had a cameo by Amitabh Bachchan.
HEAT AND DUST (1983)
The movie is considered one of the best collaborations of Shashi Kapoor and Merchant Ivory Productions. The music of the epic drama is composed by Richard Robbins and Indian classic Tabla player Ustad Zakir Hussain. It is based on the novel of the same name by its co-screen writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Heat And Dust was nominated in competition for the Palme d’Or at 1983 Cannes Film Festival.
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