Today is the 80th birth anniversary of India's answer to Elvis Presley, Shamsher Raj Kapoor, better known as Shammi Kapoor. Born in 1931 in Bombay, he stepped into the industry with a famous surname, his father Prithviraj Kapoor and elder brother Raj Kapoor being established legends of the industry.
But he carved out his own niche in the industry, where his contemporaries like Raj Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Dilip Kumar were more known for their finesse and style, he showed the audience what the raw passion and intensity is all about.
He unleashed power of youth on the screen with the cry of "Yahooo" in the film aptly titled Junglee becoming the definitive moment of his career. He was Hindi cinema's first attempt at addressing the westernised and 'hip' teenage crowd of the 60's.
Despite his family background, Shammi's entry into Bollywood was initially not successful even though he worked with major heroines like Madhubala in Rail Ka Dibba, Suraiya in Shama Parwana and Nalini Jaywant in Hum Sab Chor Hai.
His initial movies flopped at the box office. He reinvented himself with Tumsa Nahi Dekha cutting his hair in the famous duck-tail style of the 50s and never looked back since ka.
With the success of Junglee in 1961, an entire decade reeled under its colourful impact. Shammi heralded the swinging 60s and a large part of his appeal was primarily due to the immensely catchy and upbeat numbers like Suku Suku, O Haseena Zulfo Wali, Aaj Kal Tere Mere Pyar Ke Charche, Aaja Aaja Main hoon Pyar Tera where he was at his boisterous best.
Even though success came with light weight tales like Kashmir Ki Kali, Rajkumar, Jaanwar and An Evening In Paris, his performances in flicks like Junglee, Badtameez, Bluff Master and Pagla Kahin Ka, Teesri Manzil, Brahmachari silenced his critics.
He was often paired opposite young starlets and quite a few of them went on to become seasoned performers in their career. Saira Banu, Asha Parekh and Sharmila Tagore are just a few to name.
Andaz released in 1971 was his last movie as a leading man. By the early 70's he started gaining weight which curtailed his career as the lead hero but still he gave some meaningful performances later in his career as character actor most notably in Vidhata, Hero and Prem Rog.
He won the Filmfare award for Best Actor in 1968 for Brahmachari and in 1995 the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement award was bestowed upon him. Shammi Kapoor was also one of the foremost Internet users in India. He was the founder and chairman of Internet Users Community of India (IUCI) and had been instrumental in setting up Internet organizations like the Ethical Hackers Association.
On his 75th birthday, Shammi told interviewers that he goes for dialysis thrice a week, yet he is not depressed, in fact, grateful to God for giving him so much. The veteran actor passed away on August 14 this year due to chronic renal failure.
The legend was in the ICU of Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital for few days before he breathed his last. Kapoor is survived by his wife Neeladevi, son Aditya Raj, daughter Kachan Desai.
(With inputs from News Tomorrow)