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Son of legendary actor-filmmaker Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor was born on October 21, 1931, and was the brother of late Raj and Shashi Kapoor. Shammi Kapoor is best known for his roles in films like Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Dil Deke Dekho, Junglee, Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, An Evening in Paris, Bramhachari, Andaz and Sachaai. He died on August 14, 2011, due to chronic renal failure (All pictures/mid-day archives)
When Kapoor decided to secretly marry Geeta Bali (his first wife), afraid that the Kapoor family would not approve because she was older and an actress, he decided to take comedian Johnny Walker's help. Walker had only secretly got married to his wife Noorjahan. 'But Walker told him, 'You won't have it as easy as me. I only had to arrange for a mullah',' journalist Rauf Ahmed, in an exclusive interview with mid-day, had revealed a few years ago
In fact, Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali were so eager that they reached the temple before the designated hour and had to wait for it to open. When they realised that in the rush they had forgotten to arrange for vermilion (sindoor), Kapoor used Bali's lipstick instead
According to Rauf Ahmed, Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), the film that made Shammi Kapoor an overnight star, was supposed to star Dev Anand and Ameeta, but Anand backed out not wanting to work with a newcomer like Ameeta. The film's director Nasir Hussain was not keen on Kapoor, but the actor reportedly took the director out for dinner and 'pataoed' (convinced) him, as Ahmed narrates
Shammi Kapoor was often referred to as the Indian Elvis Presley by fans. Kapoor's famous look was planned by Bali. She got him to shave off his moustache, wear western clothes and get an Elvis Presley-like hairstyle
'The idea was a cross between Elvis and James Dean of Rebel Without A Cause fame (1955). However, Presley's controversial and strong-on-sexuality dance moves were to be kept aside, but maintaining its freedom of movement,' journalist Rauf Ahmed said
Apparently, for the Aasman Se Aaya Farishta song in An Evening in Paris (1967), which required Shammi Kapoor to be pictured in a flying helicopter, the actor wanted to dance but could not hear the music
'Shammi Kapoor made Shakti Samanta sing the song. Shammi then lip-read him and danced accordingly,' recalls Rauf Ahmed
Shammi Kapoor's last film was Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar. Kapoor's family was overwhelmed by the importance given to the legendary star in the film that starred his nephew Rishi Kapoor's son Ranbir
Shammi Kapoor's son Aditya Raj Kapoor had revealed that his father shot for Rockstar under great physical pain. He pointed out, 'The level of pain he endured during his last days was inhuman and to see him perform was amazing. To be able to move around, rehearse, pay attention, wear heavy and unusual clothes all the while on intermittent oxygen and dialysis and still have the ability to stay Shammi Kapoor - that was commitment!'
Coincidently, Shammi Kapoor's father, Prithviraj Kapoor, too, had shot his last film under unimaginable physical pain. Said Aditya Raj Kapoor, in an old interview with mid-day, 'Maybe my father drew inspiration from his father who performed in Kal Aaj Aur Kal in the last few months of his life. You can see that this is his benediction to Ranbir, someone he was very fond of'
Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar was dedicated to Shammi Kapoor. Aditya Raj Kapoor said, 'Shammi Kapoor is the original rockstar. The shehnai-guitar jugalbandi with Ranbir looked like a transfusion of energy from the old to the new'
The elder Kapoor siblings took up smoking during their theatre days. In the play, Deewar, a young Zohra Sehgal was playing a foreign lady who would have to smoke on stage. Raj, Shammi and Shashi were part of the play through the years. Raj and Shammi would wait in the wings for Sehgal to come backstage so that they could puff on the remainder of her cigarette and that's when they took to the habit
Shammi Kapoor had a decent singing voice and hence, he was cast in plays easily. Ironically, even though film journalists and critics discuss how the audience never quite accepted Shammi Kapoor in a negative role, it was his character as a rich, spoilt brat in one of Prithvi Theatre's plays that got him his first big break in the film Tumsa Nahin Dekha
One of the last plays that Prithvi Theatre did was Ramanand Sagar's Kalakar, in which Shammi Kapoor played a negative character who seduces the heroine of the play. Producer S Mukherjee of Filmistan Studio, director Nasir Hussain and music composer OP Nayyar were thoroughly impressed with Shammi Kapoor's performance and signed him on for Tumsa Nahin Dekha
Acting and theatre were always a priority for the family. Here's an interesting incident when Shammi Kapoor was in school. Shammi would appear on stage in Shakuntala (in the role of Bharat) at night and be groggy in class the next day. The principal sent a note asking to see his father. Prithviraj Kapoor was busy so Raj Kapoor went instead. The principal said the child had to choose between studies and stage
Without missing a beat, Raj Kapoor asked his kid brother to fetch his bag and left the school. Shammi was then admitted to New Era School, from where ultimately he did his matriculation. He took up science in college (Ruia College, Mumbai), hoping to become an Aeronautical Engineer
Fond of the outdoor life, Shammi Kapoor also applied for a job at a tea estate in Assam. Fortunately, he changed his mind, dropped out of college and followed in the footsteps of his father and brother
Shammi Kapoor, like his brothers Raj and Shashi, was not raised like a privileged star kid. Their father's theatre troupe used to travel in second class compartments, camp at ordinary lodgings, sleep on the floor and eat the same food that the lowliest of backstage workers ate