By Suneel V. Gaur and Rajesh V. Gaur
Ravi Kapoor, better known as Jeetendra was born on April 7, 1942. His family dealt in imitation jewellery. It was while delivering some of this jewellery to V. Shantaram that he got the first chance in Geet Gaaya Patharon Ne in 1964.
However, Jeetendra earned his first major success with Ravi Nagaich’s Farz (1967), which went on to become a golden jubilee hit. The white shoes he picked up from a retail store for Farz became his trademark. The success of Farz enabled him to shift from his humble chawl in Girgaon to a palatial house in Colaba. Later on he bought his first bungalow at Pali Hill. His energetic dancing in films like Farz, Humjoli (1970) and Caravan (1971) won him the epithet, ‘Jumping Jack’. Here’s few excerpts from an interview with the last of the evergreen stars, Jeetendra.
Why have you stopped acting altogether?
When I feel like acting again, I’ll definitely do a film. Right now I’m just not in the mood.
Is it true that you are the brains behind Balaji?
That’s not true at all. Till today, I have not seen a full episode of any programme made by Balaji Telefilms. Does that answer your question well? Ektaa and Shobha (my wife), literally slogged to make things happen. By the grace of god, their painstaking efforts paid off; it is totally their effort. They worked very hard and whatever little I did, I did as a father and husband.
You did over 200 films, yet, you were never really in the league of heroes like Amitabh Bachahan. Why is that?
Let me tell you, I survived beautifully the way I wanted to. I think I led a very, very successful life, from the beginning to the end of my career. And then phased my way out and joined my daughter’s company. My films were fairly successful – almost all of them – except for a few.
Is it true that Rajesh Khanna was your childhood buddy and it was he who coaxed you into becoming an actor?
Rajesh Khanna and I lived in the same area -- he lived in Thakurdwar and I lived in Girgaon, only five minutes away. We both studied in the same school – St Sebastian Goan High School. His mom and mine were pals. When in college, I knew Rajesh was doing a lot of stage plays. So I got together with Rajesh in the K.C. College canteen and he made me learn some lines for a play. As for my being in touch with Rajesh, I can say that after school, when we got into films, we drifted apart. We got busy with our lives.
Your hit film Himmatwala has been remade. How does it feel?
It feels great to know that Himmatwala is inspiring film makers even today. It was a big hit and I hope that the new version is well-made and does well. I have no qualms of Himmatwala being remade.