Shammi Kapoor passed away on Sunday. Now, what’s Bollywood's romantic superstar of the 1960s doing in a technology column? Well, I take this day to pay my tributes to the Internet-savvy actor and throw in a message for the Independence Day.
Remember when Steve Jobs made the Apple Macintosh a phenomenon with the desktop computer? His slogan then was, “The computer for the rest of us.” Shamsher Raj Kapoor, well past his alleged prime, caught on to this when the Internet came to India about 15 years ago. He started his own website, putting pictures of his own Kapoor “khandaan” (clan) on the Web to eager worldwide fans. It also turns out that he inspired Silicon Valley entrepreneurs playing on the “Yahoo” title (a cry made famous by him in the film Junglee) who named their company as Junglee.com. Junglee, founded by IIT-ans Rakesh Mathur, Ashish Gupta, Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan, was acquired by online retailer Amazon.com and is now part of the Silicon Valley folklore.
About 12 years ago, I was introduced to Shammi Kapoor by late Dewang Mehta, then head of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) because the eternally young cinema doyen was also the chairman of the Internet Users Community of India, then a fledgling body.
When I started mentioning something about Microsoft personal computers, he said, “Don’t talk to me about PCs, yaar. I am a Mac person.”
A typical member of the Apple cult, with a style and elan to match his cool factor, Shammi epitomised what could be the underlying aim of this column: “It is not technology, but what it does for us.”
There is so much discussion on the gadget features these days, ranging from platforms to gee-whiz features, that we almost forget the significance of content or applications/ “apps” — be they on news, music, travel, business or social media or whatever it that turns on your imagination and addresses your needs.
As India celebrates its Independence Day, I think true digital independence comes when you can focus on the content or apps and discover and use better and newer ones and not so much on the machines. To me, that is the cool message that Shammi Kapoor sent us as he departed from this world on the eve of Independence Day.