A die-hard fan and collector of late actor Shammi Kapoor's memorabilia will showcase his private collection this week. On view are rare posters of a mustachioed Kapoor in little known films like Rail Ka Dibba, lobby cards and the long-gone songbooks
The window in 63 year-old advocate Rajan Jayakar's ground floor office in the upscale Court View Apartments overlooks the lush Oval Maidan, and if you crane your neck a bit, the spires of the High Court. But the view within is equally fascinating. Jayakar's office is scattered with antique furniture. Here, the Victorian wooden tables and chairs, switchboards with brass and porcelain switches, and cupboards, all possess an old world air.
I had told him about my obsession with collecting memorabilia related to
him and my plans for an exhibition. He had promised to attend �Rajan
The contents of the cupboards, four in all, tell an even older story. They hold rare books, photographs and periodicals that speak of Mumbai, some of them dating back to before 1900. Another lot consists of old stamps and matchbox labels.
Posters of Kapoor's film before and after his makeover
But one section of collectibles is currently missing � that on the late actor Shammi Kapoor. Jayakar's collection is up for display at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) till October 22. Titled Tum Mujhe Yun Bhula Na Paaoge, after a popular song from his film Pagla Kahin Ka (1970), the exhibition holds 20 posters of his films, three censor certificates, 47 songbooks (each containing a synopsis of the film and the lyrics of its songs in various languages), over 100 lobby cards or photographs which painters used to model the film's posters on, and 100 old photographs of the actor.
The collection includes rare posters of films like Teesri Manzil, Kashmir Ki Kali and Chor Bazaar, and photos from Kapoor's earlier releases like Thokar (1953), which according to Jayakar was tough to source since all material related to the film was dumped after the film flopped.
The collection also includes censor certificates of films like Daku (1955) and Mujrim (1958), which Jayakar found at exhibitions that sold old paper-related memorabilia. "It was strange to find these certificates at an exhibition showcasing paperwork related to legal matters. Here, the certificates even specify all the cuts a particular film went through," says Jayakar.
So impressive is the collection that for the first time, CSMVS has decided to exhibit a private collector's pieces. Sabyasachi Mukherjee, director of CSMVS, says, "For the first time, a collector's personal collection is on display. It is a way for the public to access priceless memorabilia."
Jayakar, who has spent a few hours every Sunday at Chor Bazaar, Mumbai's antique market, since he was a young boy, even finds a mention in the Limca Book of Records for possessing the largest collection of matchbox labels in India. "Five years ago, I was finding it difficult to get my hands on items of the Victorian period in Mumbai. I already owned quite a few photographs from that time, but I was hungry to collect more. That's when someone suggested I focus my energies on film memorabilia," shares Jayakar.
A few days later, when he saw Kapoor, his favourite actor, at a function to receive a lifetime achievement award in a wheelchair, Jayakar decided to start collecting material related to him. "Here was an actor who, according to me, was far more talented than his contemporaries like Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand. He broke all rules associated with acting back then. His dancing was revolutionary, and to see him on a wheelchair was painful."
Jayakar was apparently 13 years old when he first saw Junglee. He caught that show after bunking school. He eventually became a huge fan of Kapoor's, and didn't miss a single film. "Luckily, I also got to meet him about seven or eight times. He'd chat and reminisce about the old days."
In a few of these meetings, Kapoor reportedly told Jayakar about times when he was about to join a tea estate in Assam, because his films were not running, and how he got his break in Tumsa Nahin Dekha because Dev Anand didn't want to work with a newcomer like Ameeta (the lead actress in the film).
"I had told him about my obsession of collecting memorabilia related to him and about my plans for an exhibition surrounding him. He had even promised to attend," says Jayakar. Two pieces from his collection that Jayakar is particularly fond of include posters of Rail Ka Dibba (1953) and Chor Bazaar (1954). "These are rare because not much material on him before Tumsa Nahin Dekha exists. During his days as an unsuccessful actor, he had a moustache and the flamboyance that became his trademark later, was missing," he says.
Despite much of his enthusiasm, Jayakar acknowledges that he is going through a lean period. In the last few months, he hasn't been able to find any material related to the actor. "I own 47 of his films' songbooks. Before the publishing of songbooks were abandoned, another 11 of his songbooks were released," he says, adding, "My sources at Chor Bazaar tell me there aren't more items left. But I know, there are. I will find them."
At: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, 159/61 MG Road, Fort