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Yahoo! Shammi Kapoor turns 77

He first used the expression Yahoo! in Tumsa Nahin Dekha 51 years ago. Now at 77, life for Shammi Kapoor is still a joyride, discovers Roshmila Bhattacharya.

entertainment Updated: Oct 21, 2008 12:29 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

So what are you plans for the big day?

Nothing special, I’ll probably host a dinner for a small group of friends from the hospital. For the last three years I’ve been going in for dialysis thrice a week and have grown close to some of the doctors.

Expecting any special gifts?

My wife (Neela Devi) takes good care of me. Her love and that of the children are the gifts I cherish most. (Smiles) Last year, I got myself a Mercedes CLS 350.

I haven’t thought of anything for this


but God willing, one of these birthdays, after the market improves, I’ll buy myself a Rolls Royce. I have a passion for cars and I love driving down Marine Drive with my wife by my side.

Any birthday which brings back fond memories?

Good lord those channels have shut down years ago! It’s good to stroll down memory lane but I don’t do that too often. I like living for the moment. (After a reflective pause)

I’ve celebrated several birthdays in Kashmir. I would go to the valley often on shikaar and fishing trips, family vacations and of course, film shoots.

Kashmir ki Kali

was filmed there but that was probably in May and Junglee was also sometime in April-May. But I think

Tumsa Nahin Dekha



were shot in October. So was Ramesh Sippy’s


. We used to have these lavish donga parties. Cruising down the Dal lake we’d feast on Kashmiri delicacies like yakni, gustaba and rogan josh, drink and dance all night. Those were the golden days.

Which song sets your feet tapping today?

All my songs set me feet tapping and my heart racing. RD Burman and Mohd. Rafi were a potent combo, Unfortunately, I can no longer dance. I’m confined to a wheelchair and can’t even walk.

A poll once voted you the best dancer in Hindi cinema.. you were called the desi Elvis Presley..

(Smiles) Aamir (Khan) once told me Elvis was the videsi Shammi Kapoor. I don’t know how to dance but I love music and my body reacted to that.

Aamir Khan came to your home to release the music of his directorial debut,

Taare Zameen Par

. What did you think of the film?

It was excellent.


was good too but this was a more difficult film.

You debuted as a director with



The urge struck me in the early ’70s. Years ago, I’d been wowed by Irma la Douce, a French play staged in London. I’d promised myself years ago that if I ever directed a film, it would be the Indialised Irma la Douce.

A poor law student falls in love with a Parisan prostitute and to keep her for himself assumes the disguise of a wealthy, older man, Oscar. He takes on several jobs to keep up appearances but eventually, burnt out, he ‘kills’ Oscar and is transported to the Devil’s island penal colony for his own murder.

Billy Wilder adapted it for Hollywood in ’63, I made it for Bollywood in ’74. My friend Sanjeev Kumar, a brilliant actor, convincingly carried off the dual personalities of the nawab and the hard-up cop.

Two years later, I directed Bundal Baaz which also featured me in the role of a genie. I’m happy I did both these films but I didn’t want to follow direction as a career.

We last saw you in a film called


two years ago.. before that there was Bhola In Bollywood in 2005.

(Laughs) That was just two-three days work. I haven’t even seen them. My last big film was

Janam Samjha Karo

directed by lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri’s son Andaleeb. That was nine years ago and shot in London. I played Salman’s (Khan)


. He’s a nice boy from a good family and a fine actor.

mera beta jaisa hai

and took good care of me.

Don’t you miss acting?

I miss a lot of things, in particular my health and mobility. I used to enjoy running around. If I was well I would have liked to travel to different parts of the world with my wife. But that’s no longer possible.


I have to go for dialysis three times a week. It’s not a cure but a treatment so I can’t break this routine as long as I live. (Shrugs) You learn to live with it. Three days are for the hospital but the remaining four days are mine, right?

Right. So when was the last time you shouted ‘Yahoo’?

(Laughs) That was a long time ago. I first used the expression in

Tumsa Nahin Dekha

51 years ago. It was a macho expression of love and triumph. The cry of a man who’s got the woman he loves. I repeated it in

Dil Deke Dekho

. Then Mohd. Rafi turned it into a war cry in


. Since then I’ve been yahooing my way through life.

Which actor today reminds you of the old Shammi Kapoor?

Oh, we have so many wonderful boys around. But they have their own style. There’s Aamir (Khan), Shah Rukh (Khan), Salman, (Khan) Hrithik (Roshan).

What about your grandnephew Ranbir Kapoor?

Ranbir is excellent, I really liked him in


. Sanjay Bhansali’s style of filmmaking was impressive.

What about Bachna Aye Haseenon? In parts, Ranbir reminds one of the old Shammi Kapoor.

I haven’t seen


I can’t go to the theatre so I have to wait for the DVD. Ranbir is a good dancer but he’s not my reflection. He’s an original, like Shammi Kapoor was.

First Published: Oct 21, 2008 12:18 IST