Shashi Kapoor
Art / Film

Shashi Kapoor, A Moon With Eyelashes

A Sailor who sang with seagulls, a poet who wrote with his mannerisms, Shashi Kapoor was everything that Indian Cinema had to offer. He was a moon with eyelashes.

Shashi Kapoor lived a long, varied life. He took more roles than he could manage. As long as, his wife, Jennifer Kendal lived, he remained the ultimate facilitator and said ‘yes’ to every offer that came his way. Clearly, supporting his family was a priority for him.

All his life, Shashi remained anchored to his loved ones. And delivered performances that benefited other actors and more importantly the films. Coming from the top of a long family tree of Kapoors, Shashi remained a different branch altogether.

We all remember Shashi Kapoor as the upright cop who stood tall against his morally corrupt brother in Deewar. His charm, even though, he could never rise to the status of a superstar, made him a heart-throb who could carry not just a commercial film but also an entire film industry, art-house movement, on his delicate shoulders.

Remembering him through Aseem Chhabra’s wonderful attempt at documenting his life in his book, Shashi Kapoor, The Householder, The Star.

Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, The Star

Written by Aseem Chhabra, a film journalist, freelance writer, and film festival programmer in New York, the book is a respectable addition to the catalogue of books on Indian Cinema.

The Book has many dimensions that explore the life and times of Shashi Kapoor.

Shashi Kapoor: The Family Man

As an actor, Shashi Kapoor wore many hats but it’s his role as the ultimate family man that stands out. The book talks at length about his relationship with this wife, Jennifer Kendal. It also funny yet genuine reactions to his films by his kids. It also portraits a rather intricate picture of him as a hard-working brother.

How Shashi rushed from one film-set to another to do a countless number of films at the same time, just to safeguard his familial commitments is something of a feat. Aseem brings out the most intimate of experiences from Shashi Kapoor’s life to life with his vivid style of writing. How Raj Kapoor made fun of Shashi Kapoor for having an extremely busy schedule is something a reader can look forward to.

A Mosaic of Film Career

As Shashi moved from various phases in his acting, he kept on moving from one corner of the film industry to another playing many real-life roles. From a shy child artist in Awara to dancing around trees with women with weird hairdos to producing some of the best art films, Shashi Kapoor enamored the world with his acting.

As James Ivory says, “The reason a star is a star because he or she has something extra- an extra gift or grace or charm and beauty. And Shashi has all of this.”

The book goes on to talk about his film career. From best to worst, it enlists and talks about most of the films, he acted in. The anecdotes here are quite interesting and enriching for a film buff.

Shashi Kapoor: The Film Vala

By the time, Shashi reached the apex of his acting career something was bubbling inside him. He wanted to give something in return. In 1978, he started his own production house called, Film Valas. Film Valas produced some of the most critically acclaimed films of parallel cinema in India. Shyam Benegal benefited the most with films such as Junoon (1978), Kalyug (1981), Vijeta (1982).

Shashi’s support to filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani and Girish Karnad kept the artistic spirit of Indian Cinema alive in the turbulent 80s. The making of these films and his role as a producer makes for enticing reading.

Merchant-Ivory Archives

Shashi got international prominence by working with the Producer-Director duo, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory. He worked in a ‘trilogy’ of films on older men with fading pasts. He also appeared in The Householder(1963). His late forays into acting with Ismail Merchant’s Muhafiz (1993) also make for exciting reading.

But more importantly, the book contains some of the best and intimate pictures of Shashi Kapoor. The pictures from the various phases of Shashi Kapoor’s life come from the Merchant-Ivory archives. The book can be picked up just for that.

In Conclusion To The Book & In Continuation With Shashi Kapoor

In 1978, Shashi Kapoor established Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai in the fond remembrance of his father, Prithviraj Kapoor. Shashi dedicated a sizable amount of his life to the cause of theatre. Since then, Prithvi Theatre has been a temple for actors.

Shashi Kapoor, The Householder, The Star brings forth the warmth and the light which emanated from the enigmatic life of Shashi Kapoor. It firmly reestablished the fact that people remember and love gentle souls.

Speaking of souls, Shashi Kapoor represented a special kind of force of nature that embraces the planet earth once in a lifetime to teach us the kind lessons of love and kindness. Shashi lives on! And as Sharmila Tagore puts it:

‘I remember his eyelashes’

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