Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)
Belonging to the second generation of the Kapoors, Shashi was the youngest son and had two great examples in front of him in Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor. After a slow start to an otherwise illustrious career, Shashi Kapoor became a superstar after Jab Jab Phool Khile. Starring opposite Nanda, who was a bigger name in the industry than him, Shashi mesmerised the audience with his sharp features on a childlike face. The duo went on to act in several films together and had mutual admiration for each other. Set in the heaven-on-earth setting of Kashmir, the film saw Shashi as a boatman who falls in love with a rich tourist girl. The film is remembered for its romantic songs like 'Ye Sama, Sama hai ye pyar ka' and 'Pardesiyon Se Na Ankhiyan Milana'.
Shakespeare Wallah (1965)
One of the first Indian actors to go international, Shashi Kapoor has acted in several English films in the early days of his career and also in his twilight. Shakespeare Wallah was a story of a theatre troupe that toured India performing Shakespearean plays. Shashi played the role of Sanju, and was cast opposite Felicity Kendal. Interestingly, Shashi fell in love with her sister Jennifer and got married. As a couple, they made a huge contribution to cinema before Jennifer’s death in ‘84. Shashi also produced 36 Chowringhee Lane which starred Jennifer, the 1981 film by Aparna Sen.
You know you have had the last word in any argument when you are the one saying “Mere Paas Maa hai”. When Shashi Kapoor’s Ravi says it to Amitabh’s Vijay, for the first time in the film, you see him as more powerful than the angry-young-man. One of his most powerful supporting roles, Shashi did a lot of films with Amitabh, like Namak Halal, Do Aur Do Paanch, Suhaag, Kaala Patthar, Trishul, Kabhie Kabhie and Silsila among others. In many, his role could easily be classified as a supporting actor, but his Inspector Ravi Verma was by no means a supporting role. He was a parallel hero.
Yet another collaborative with Shyam Benegal saw Shashi Kapoor produce and act in this period drama based on A Flight of Pigeons, a novella by Ruskin Bond. Set around the revolt of 1857, the film is about an unexpected love that blooms between a British girl and a feudal lord. A gripping tale of love, jealousy and loyalty; the film explores the period and strikes the right balance between the personal and the social aspects. Shashi Kapoor plays the role of Javed Khan, the feudal lord whose world revolves around breeding carrier pigeons. The film won the National Award for best film as well as for cinematography (Govind Nihalani)
Taking cues from the most important story in the world, Shyam Benegal's Kalyug was quite unfairly dubbed as a modern Mahabharat. The characterisation of most important characters was indeed derived from the epic, but the plot and the screenplay of the film were very different from what Vyas originally wrote. However, in a role as Karan Singh, Shashi Kapoor had the opportunity to portray Indian literature's most tragic character. The film was critically well received and Shashi Kapoor's role was applauded by many and remains one of his best performances on screen.
New Delhi Times (1985)
After having established himself as an actor and appearing in nearly 10 blockbusters in the 60s and 70s including the epic Waqt (1965), the only thing that made Shashi stand apart from his brothers was his interest in the alternative cinema. New Delhi Times, a rare film that dealt with the issue of corruption, saw Shashi play the role of a newspaper editor who exposes the politician-media nexus. His powerful performance in the film rightfully won him the National Award for Best Actor. Even today, it remains one the few films made in India that deals with the plague that is corruption.
Published in DNA After Hrs (Pune) on March 15, 2013