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Remembering the debonair Shashi Kapoor

On Shashi Kapoor’s birth anniversary, remembering 7 of his films (and performances)  which are very close to my heart. Mostly under-utilized...

On Shashi Kapoor’s birth anniversary, remembering 7 of his films (and performances)  which are very close to my heart. Mostly under-utilized as an artist, Shashi Kapoor came to his own in some of his self-produced films and a handful of others. 

Here are some of my personal favourites 

Dharmputra (1961) - Yash Chopra 

Yash Chopra’s second directorial venture after the memorable Dhool La Phool was Shashi’s first role as an adult star. Playing the role of Dilip Rai a Hindu fundamentalist who hates Muslims, until he discovers a shocking truth about his birth, Shashi Kapoor is fantastic in a much-underrated film with sterling performances. 

The Householder (1963) - James Ivory

A heartwarming performance by Shashi Kapoor who plays the young Prem Sagar, a man struggling to cope with the challenges his new marriage to Leela Naidu throws up to him. Trying to juggle his mother and his wife in an attempt to keep both of them happy, Shashi is brilliant as the young hapless husband who eventually through the journey of life discovers the key to nurturing a marriage. A must-watch.

Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965) - Suraj Prakash 

Shashi Kapoor exudes charm, innocence, and a heartwarming vulnerability as Raja a simple Kashmiri boatman who falls in love with a city-bred girl, marries here and goes to the city to live there. His inability to adjust to urban ways of life constantly conflicting with his love for his wife forms the crux of the story. A successful soundtrack by the (then) young duo of Kalyanji Anandji and beautiful performances by the lead pair make this film a memorable watch.  

Kabhi Kabhie (1976) - Yash Chopra 

A stand-out performance in a film with an ensemble cast. As Vijay Khanna the architect who lives his life larger than life, Shashi infuses a robust energy and a passion in his character that is in brilliant contrast to the sobered-down simmering character of Amit (Amitabh Bachchan). Very rarely does one character stand out so much in a film filled with so many memorable characters. Shashi Kapoor managed that in Kabhi Kabhie. 

Junoon (1978) - Shyam Benegal 

Based on Ruskin Bond’s A Flight of Pigeons, this Benegal film tells the tale of a fiery rebellious Javed Khan and his obsession with the young and beautiful Ruth. Set against a backdrop of the revolt of 1857 the film is laced with brilliant performances by Naseeruddin Shah, Jennifer Kendall, Shabana Azmi, and Nafeesa Ali. The icing on the cake is Shashi Kapoor. 

New Delhi Times (1986) - Ramesh Sharma 

Shashi Kapoor’s portrayal of Vikas Pande an honest journalist who comes to Delhi to manage a newspaper and gets caught in the cesspool of the media-politician nexus and the corruption of the entire system is simply fabulous. Written by Gulzar, this gritty political drama is one of Shashi’s best roles. 

In Custody (Muhaafiz) (1993) - Ismail Merchant

Based on Anita Desai’s novel In Custody, Shashi Kapoor in one of his last memorable performances as Noor Shahjahanbaadi an aging legend of an Urdu poet and his decadent decaying lifestyle.

- By Pratik Majumdar 


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