When Shashi Kapoor recalled wife Jennifer Kendall lent Ismail Merchant money to pay actor's fees: 'He didn't have money'

Updated on Apr 11, 2022 01:54 PM IST

Shashi Kapoor once opened up about his wife Jennifer Kendall lending money to Ismail Merchant after the actor demanded money from the filmmaker for a project they were working on. Here's what happened.

Shashi Kapoor married Jennifer Kendal at the age of 20.
Shashi Kapoor married Jennifer Kendal at the age of 20.

Late actor Shashi Kapoor had once spoken about how producer, director, and screenwriter Ismail Merchant had borrowed money from his wife, late actor Jennifer Kendall to pay him for his movie. In an old interview, Shashi had said that while shooting The Householder, he put his foot down as Ismail didn't pay him and he demanded the money. After getting paid, Shashi had shown it to Jennifer who replied with 'very good'. Shashi had also said that she was 'very soft with' Ismail. (Also Read | When Shashi Kapoor, wife Jennifer Kendal had to sell their car and other things during a financial crisis)

Shashi featured in the Ismail Merchant directorial The Householder (1963) alongside Leela Naidu and Durga Khote among others. He had a long association with the filmmaker appearing in a number  He was also a part of In Custody (1993) by Ismail, alongside Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, and Neena Gupta. The actor starred in Ismail's Shakespeare Wallah (1965) along with Felicity Kendal, Jennifer's sister.

In an interview with Rediff.com in 2005, Shashi had said, "I remember once, we had completed half of The Householder, but Ismail Merchant hadn't paid me a penny. The film was being shot at one go in Delhi. I used to come and go to Bombay (now Mumbai), as I was working in other films, too. I put my foot down, and told him, 'If you don't pay me now, I will not come from Bombay for the next shooting day.' He promised to pay. I knew he didn't have the money. But he paid me. And I said, 'Arre!' I started working. I was happy, but later realised he had borrowed the money from my wife. Jennifer (Jennifer Kendall) had always been very soft with him. Most times, she used to buy lunch for the entire unit.

"So I went and showed her the money very proudly, and said, 'Here's the money. Ismail paid me.' And she said, 'That's very good.' He would be up to all these tricks, the rogue (Aisi harkatein badmash karta tha). But the ultimate reason was good. He wasn't buying things for himself -- cars, clothes or whatever. He was making a film, a good film. Everyone liked him for it. He paid me in ways I can never never forget. When my wife was very very ill in London, I was down in every way, including finances. I had a film that was ready but was sitting for a year-and-a-half, waiting to release: Utsav. Ismail came to the hospital to give me money," he added.

Shashi and Jennifer got married in 1958 and welcomed three children--sons Karan and Kunal, and daughter Sanjana. Jennifer died in 1984, while Shashi died in December 2017.

In his career, Shashi featured in many hit films such as Kanyadan (1968), Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (1974), Prem Kahani and Deewaar (1975), Chakkar Pe Chakkar and Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Trishna and Heeralal Pannalal (1978), Kaala Patthar and Suhaag (1979), Do Aur Do Paanch, Kali Ghata and Shaan (1980), Silsila (1981), Namak Halaal (1982), Pakhandi (1984), New Delhi Times (1985) among others.

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