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Yahoo YouTube: Shammi Kapoor Unplugged

And at 79, Shammi Kapoor is the oldest Bollywoodian to be logged on to the Internet. He’s been active for the last 22 years and from May 24, Rajshri.com and YouTube will be hosting his video-blog, Shammi Kapoor Unplugged.

entertainment Updated: May 21, 2010 13:01 IST
Rachana Dubey

He’s been going for dialysis to the Breach Candy Hospital, three days every week for the last couple of years. But, as he points out, the remaining four days are his. And at 79, Shammi Kapoor is the oldest Bollywoodian to be logged on to the Internet. He’s been active for the last 22 years and from May 24, Rajshri.com and YouTube will be hosting his video-blog, Shammi Kapoor Unplugged.

Each episode will be three to five minutes long and will be uploaded every Monday.

Kapoor explains the reason behind the initiative: “To share as much of myself with my fans before it’s time to say goodbye. I don’t know how many more years I have left and unless I pass on these beautiful memories, they will be wiped out with me forever.”

Kapoor spends around eight hours on the net everyday, surfing, reading and disseminating information but he doesn’t chat with strangers and play brainless games on his machine. His first introduction to the Internet was in 1992, on Apple’s E-world.

“I suddenly discovered this fascinating world that was but a click away. I remember mourning with hundreds of people around the world the day E-world.com shut down in the late ’90s,” he reminisces.

The virtual world since then, he points out, has become infinitely faster thanks to better software used. The information too is expansive. It is a boon… And also a bane. He warns, “Unless the government becomes an active censor, the number of pornographic sites, portals that help hackers, loopholes that leave spams and net stalkers will continue to flourish.”

‘I met a friend after 50 years through the Internet’

Isn’t it a little late in the day to start a video-blog?
It’s never too late to start. And today, I have nothing to hide. Whether it’s my wife Neila Devi, my earlier wife, Geeta Bali, my kids and my grandkids, my brothers and my parents, I want to share all my memories with my fans and friends. I want them to know what it was like, working with some of the finest directors and technicians.

In one of my blogs, I’ve spoken about a friend Afzal who discovered a Shammi Kapoor on the Internet and emailed asking if I was the same guy he had grown up with in Matunga. It was his first letter to me in 50 years and moved me to tears. I still have it and we’re still connected.

People mail and tweet to enquire how my dialysis has been going. It makes me feel good knowing they still love me. Even youngsters ask me about it and my answer always is, “It’s going fine. I’m used to the routine now.”

Your doctors have shot a dialysis video with you, right?
Yes, because I go for dialysis with a song and a smile on my lips. I don’t want to cry at this stage in my life. I want to be happy and live life king-size. I give the doctors three days of my life every week. The rest is my time. That’s what the doctors want to communicate to other patients through the video.

You’re active on Twitter and Facebook too...
I treat them as web portals that allow an individual freedom of expression. People send messages to those they’ve never met. Recently, even I got a foul message on Twitter from a stranger. And in five minutes, there were 50 people slapping him down. This can happen only on Twitter because anyone can join in, Facebook is far more guarded and insists on security information.

Isn’t surfing the net all day tiring?
I don’t just surf. I have a cozy little room where I listen to rock music, read newspapers and books on various websites. I have a Mac desktop there, along with trophies, mementos, photographs and old film posters.

How did you become a part of Apple’s E-world at a time when the Internet was an alien concept in India?
We used cards to subscribe and surf the site. Even BSNL didn’t know of it. E-world had a library and a shopping mall but few members in India. Apple computers were rare and expensive commodities, with just one store in Delhi.

You must have been elated when the Internet officially arrived in India in 1995?
Actually, I was happier going to schools and colleges in the country, to inaugurate their computer rooms and give them lessons on the web. (Smiles) I was a master after four years of being a part of E-world.

What would have happened had Twitter and Facebook existed in the ’60s?
(Laughs) I wouldn’t have been an actor and if I did become one, I’d have been a flop because I would have been on the web, 24 x 7!

MY KHANDAAN AND ME

‘I play cards with Krishna bhabhi
I visit Krishna bhabhi (Raj Kapoor’s wife Krishna) on weekends for a game of cards. We both enjoy playing cards and have always bonded well. Whenever my niece Ritu is in town, we go out for lunch or dinner.

‘Shashi is a loner now’
Shashi (younger brother Shashi Kapoor) likes being left alone. My relationship with him now is the kind Rajji (Raj Kapoor) and I shared once. Bhaisaab was a father figure to me, and a buddy too. I’m as possessive about Shashi as Bhaisaab was for me. I go to his house for lunches and dinners as often as I can.

‘Sanjna is the custodian of Prithvi’
Sanjna has been the custodian of my father’s theatre company. I worked at Prithvi Theatre with my father as a junior artiste, at the princely salary of Rs 50 a month. I recently visited the theatre for bauji’s (Prithviraj Kapoor) birth anniversary.

‘I was among the first people to meet Kiaan
Kiaan is my youngest great-grandchild. We were on the same floor at Breach Candy. I had gone for dialysis when he was born. Bebo (Kareena Kapoor) and Saif (Ali Khan) had come to see me. Bebo sat with me after a long time, chatting about her childhood while we waited for Kiaan to enter the world. Saif is a nice boy, Bebo looks happy with him.

‘Ranbir has his parents’ genes’
Ranbir has everything going for him. He was excellent in Wake Up Sid. He has his father (Rishi Kapoor) and mother’s (Neetu Kapoor) genes. They’re both excellent actors and dancers, and great human beings. So, he’s a complete package too. If he chooses his movies well, he will surge ahead!

‘Zeenat looked a million bucks in Manoranjan
I directed Zeenat Aman in Manoranjan. She’s a lovely lady. I read online that she has been rated the sexiest Bollywood actress of all time. Unfortunately, the organisation behind the survey, hasn’t seen Manoranjan. She looked a million dollars in it. She continues to be a fine actress even today.

‘I miss acting’
No matter what I say, in my heart I do miss acting. I wish I’d been more careful about my health, not abused my body the way I did. Then I could have invested many more years in acting. I was shooting for a song in Rajkumar, with some 200 elephants, horses and junior artistes. I was sitting on an elephant. I held on to it by twisting my legs around a chain on its neck. The elephant kept turning its head to see who was sitting on its back.

By the time we finished the shot my knees were broken. There were other incidents when I rolled or slipped and broke other bones.
Randhir (nephew Randhir Kapoor) now says he wants to revive the RK banner. I don’t know about his plans. But one thing is for sure, I won’t be in the next RK movie. I can no longer move around easily.

‘He has the right to express himself’
A couple of days ago, everyone was rejoicing because Amitabh (Bachchan) had joined Twitter. I don’t think there was so much excitement when he started blogging a couple of years ago. He was among the first few Bollywood actors who knew how to operate a computer and surf the Internet. Back in the ’90s, I remember he had a Chinese brand at home that he was busy on whenever he
found time.

I have never followed his blogs but Amitabh has the right to express himself, the way he wants to. You may not always appreciate someone’s thoughts, but that doesn’t mean you have to pull him down. It’s not in good taste.