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End of the ‘yahoo’ era

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shammi Kapoor (1931-2011)

Most of us would not know that the six-foot tall Shammi Kapoor, who went on become the country’s rebel star, was the most education-inclined. He wanted to be an aeronautical engineer after convent education in Don Bosco, Matunga and the New Era School, a classy SoBo school where his co-student was Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, and Khalsa College. He was very much into sports like table tennis, football, hockey, etc. He was more a sportsman rather than a wannabe actor. But, as destiny would have it, he went on to become the shining star of the Hindi film industry. Shammi ushered in a new era in the ‘Hindi film hero’ genre with his unique dancing style, emotional and romantic performances and gave the iconic ‘yahoo’ motif to the Hindi cinema.

His best friend Prayag Raaj, writer director, reminisces, “In his teen days, Shammi was a thin and shortish lad and a voracious reader, but shot up after he took up swimming. In his days in the ‘Hollywood Lane’ in Matunga where we gathered, he was more into Hollywood fantasy films and Errol Flynn Movies.” He had a passion for fast cars and wild western music. The music in his films was a strong point, especially O.P.Nayyar’s, who gave him musical hits like ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’, ‘Kaali Topi Laal Rumaal’, ‘Laat Saheb’ and Shankar Jaikishan with ‘Ujala’, ‘Brahmachari’, ‘Prince’, ’Dil Tera Deewana’. Shammi was also responsible for the emergence of R.D. Burman with the iconic musical hit ‘Teesri Manzil’.

His pairing with the top leading ladies like Saira Banoo (‘Junglee’), Sharmila Tagore (‘Kashmir Ki Kali’, ‘Evening In Paris’) and Asha Parekh (‘Dil Deke Dekho’, ‘Teesri Manzil’) saw three stars being launched successfully. His last screen appearance will be with his grandson Ranbir Kapoor in Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Rockstar’. In his troubled last days, he took up the internet and started the internet wave in India after he chucked up chain smoking and drinking. He was the founder member President of the Internet Club Users of India. There will never be another like him again.

— Sandeep Hattangadi

Family and industry reactions

  • Aditya Raj Kapoor (Actor, son): I was as a big fan as everyone else, but he passed away peacefully and we will continue to connect to him through his films.
  • Kanchan Desai (Daughter): My father was going through a lean patch in his career, but my mother spurred him on and gave him all the support needed for a successful star in the industry.
  • Yash Chopra (Producer, director): He was a big star of his era and the first urban romantic hero who brought in a music and dance style of his own.
  • Anupam Kher (Actor, director): I was a huge fan of his films and he was my first idol. He became a youth role model for me and an entire generation. The ‘rebel star’ will always be remembered.
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