The most handsome Kapoor
Shashi Kapoor was named Balbir Raj Prithviraj Kapoor when he was born on the 18th of March, 1938, in Kolkata, Paschimbanga. He belongs to the first family of Bollywood, the famous ‘Kapoor Khandaan’. He was born to Prithviraj Kapoor, film and theatre actor and Ramsarni Mehra. He is the youngest of three stalwart siblings; his eldest brother, Raj Kapoor was a famous Bollywood producer-director-actor, his other elder brother was the “Yahoo” star, Shammi Kapoor.
He was a student of the Don Bosco High School, Mumbai. In 1958, he married his English sweetheart, theatre and film actress Jennifer Kendal. Both of them established Prithvi theatre in 1978, in Mumbai. They went on to have three beautiful children, Karan, Kunal and Sanjana Kapoor. His children tried their luck in Bollywood as actors, but failed to make a mark. But, they all went on ahead in life and found their goals elsewhere. Kunal Kapoor moved onto a career of ad film direction and established his successful production house Adfilm-Valas, Karan Kapoor was successful as a model and later settled down in London to pursue a career in photography. Sanjana is the only one of his children who is still actively involved with theatre and has helped her father to keep Prithvi Theatre viable.
Sashi Kapoor’s Family Pictures
Sashi Kapoor as a child in Awara
Shashi Kapoor started young at the movies; in the early 1940s he appeared in various films under the name of Shashiraj, including the films Meena in 1941, Tadbir and Bachpan in 1945. He generally played the younger version of Raj Kapoor’s character in many of his movies. Some of his notable films include Aag in 1948 and Awaara in 1951. As a child artiste he managed to act in an astounding 19 films between 1944-54.
He was active in theater acting too, right from the young age of four; he was part of his father’s Prithvi Theatre which showed plays directed and produced by Prithviraj Kapoor.
In 1959, he took the opportunity to work as an Assistant Director for Sunil Dutt’s debut film Post Box 999 and also for Ravindra Dave in the film Guest House in the same year. His other films as an assistant director include Raj Kapoor starrer film such as Dulha Dulhan and Shriman Satyawadi.
Shashi Kapoor debuted as a lead actor in the film Dharmputra, which was released in 1961. These was the start of a wonderful career that spanned three decades of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s; it boasts of impressive statistics that include 63 films as the main leading man, 53 multi starrers, 22 films where he appeared as a supporting actor as well as 5 special appearances.
Though his beginning list of movies that include Prem Patra and Char Diwari cannot be classified as box office successes, his subsequent releases established his image of a handsome, winsome and suave male lead.
In Jab Jab Phool Khile
He managed to click with nearly all the top actresses of that time; he not only shared great chemistry with all of them, he was never pigeonholed into acting with just a few. He has worked with actresses starting with Nanda, with whom he did a lot of commercially successful movies including the films Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hain and Jab Jab Phool Khile in 1965, Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare in 1966, Raja Saab in 1969 and Rootha Na Karo in 1970.
In Aa Gale Lag Ja
With some actresses; he made popular pairings right from the 1960s, 70s to the 80s and they include Sharmila Tagore and Raakhee, He made a popular romantic on screen pair with Sharmila Tagore and their hits together include the films Waqt in 1965, Aamne Samne in 1967, Suhana Safar in 1970, Aa Gale Lag Ja in 1973 and Paap Aur Punya in 1974.
In Kabhi Kabhie
With Raakhee, Shashi had hit films like Sharmilee in 1971 and Kabhi Kabhie in 1976, Trishna in 1978, Baseraa in 1981, Zameen Aasmaan in 1984 and Pighalta Aasman in 1985.
In Haseena Maan Jayegi
His outings with Babita created box office successes with films like Haseena Maan Jayegi in 1968 and Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati in 1969. Shashi Kapoor’s fims with Asha Parekh include Kanyadan and Pyar Ka Mausam in 1969.
In Satyam Shivam Sundaram
Shashi saw commercial success with his pairings with other actresses too, like Zeenat Aman, Parveen Babi, Moushumi Chatterjee and Hema Malini. He starred with Zeenat in films like Chori Mera Kaam in 1975, Deewaange in 1976, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Roti Kapda Aur Makan and Heeralal Pannalal in 1978. With Hema he starred in Abhinetri in 1970, Aap Beati in 1976, Apna Khoon and Trishul in 1978, Aandhi Toofan in 1985.
In Chor Machaye Shor
He acted with other top actresses like Mumtaz in the film Chor Machaye Shor, with Reena Roy in the film Bezubaan. He acted opposite Rati Agnihotri in Bepanaah in 1985.
His films with Rekha include Chakkar Pe Chakkar in 1976, Maan Gaye Ustaad in 1981, Kali Ghata and Kalyug in 1981, Vijeta in 1982 and Pyaar Ki Jeet in 1987.
In New Delhi Times
In Muhafiz “In Custody”
Besides commercial success at the movies, Shashi Kapoor was recognized for his acting in the the film New Delhi Times in 1985, for which he was awarded the National Film Award for Best Actor in 1986 by the Government of India and the film Muhafiz “In Custody” in 1994, fetched him the National Award (Special Jury) for his performance.
Some of his other hits as the solo leading man include the films Dil Ne Pukara in 1967 and Fakira in 1976. His success in the multi starrers include the films Deewaar in 1975, Suhaag in 1979, Namak Halal in 1982.
In 1984, he suffered tragedy in his personal life when his wife Jennifer passed away due to cancer. Shashi soon started gaining weight leaving his debonair looks behind. He shifted to character roles and worked in films like Alag Alag and Ilzaam in 1986 and Sindoor in 1987. His last appearance was for the film Jinnah in 1998 as a narrator and Merchant Ivory’s production Side Streets in the same year.
Shashi Kapoor is one of Bollywood’s earliest stars who ventured into British and American films. Merchant Ivory Productions quite often used his talents for their films and he appeared in many of James Ivory and Ismail Merchants’s films like Householder in 1963, Shakespeare Wallah in 1965 and Heat and Dust in 1982
Being passionate about films and wanting to make his own brand of movies, Shashi Kapoor set up his production house, Film Valas,in 1978. He produced many movies which were critically acclaimed such as Junoon in 1978, Kalyug in 1981, 36 Chowringhee Lane, which had his wife in the lead role, in 1981, Vijeta in 1982, Utsav in 1984 and Ajooba in 1991.
As a producer, he has received the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi as well as the Filmfare Best Movie Award for his film Junoon in 1980 and in 1982, he received the Filmfare Best Movie Award again for his movie Kalyug. In 2010, he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2011, he was honoured with the title of Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.