It’s been two years since the charming legend, Shashi Kapoor left for his heavenly abode at the age of 79. His adorers and contemporaries still remember him fondly and they have penned odes for the veteran actor. Simi Garewal, Indian actor and talk show host, says that her Siddhartha costar was perfect.
As she bared her heart to a newspaper some time back, she revealed quite a few personal reminiscences. Simi shined a light on a few things about the actor/producer that we all may not be privy to.
She spoke about the kindness of the Raj Kapoor family.
“ I’m not sure if the Raj Kapoor family adopted me — or I adopted them — but soon I felt I was a part of their family. So, I met Shashi often, as I did all the other Kapoor family members. He was not a showbiz person like Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor but was un-filmy”.Simi Garewal
She said, “After Siddhartha, we got many offers to work together, but only Naach Uthe Sansaar and Kabhi Kabhi worked out. Ahsaas was a lovely film we shot for Ramesh Sippy — I don’t know why he shelved it.”
Here’s a roundup of some of the most fascinating and bittersweet things that Simi Garewal recalled about Shashi Kapoor.
“Shashi Was Incredibly Professional! Punctual, Polite to Everyone on Set. He Was a Perfect Co-star.”
Simi Garewal says Shashi Kapoor was one of the rare personalities in Bollywood almost untouched by malicious gossip. She said, “No one spoke a word against him. He was never rude, never misbehaved nor interfered. You could not fault him on any count — and that’s a badge of honour”.
“He Introduced Me to a Bellini (Champagne and Peaches) and I Loved It”
Simi recalls how Shashi and she travelled to New York for the opening of Siddhartha. She says, “The long flights together gave us a chance to talk non-stop in between catching up on sleep. Shashi would sink into the leather seats of the limousine and laugh, “Sheer luxury. I could get so used to it” he’d say.”
She remembered how they sat on the patio of the Excelsior Palace hotel during the Venice Film festival and really talked and connected. His disarming nature made a teetotaler like her try alcohol for the first time.
“Women Were Always Hitting on Shashi, Falling All Over Him, Openly, Even in Front of Their Husbands”!
While elaborating on Shashi Kapoor’s savoir faire, she said, “He was the only actor who knew how to order food and wines in a restaurant, knew how to eat, had perfect table manners. No other actor has ever had this level of international style. Women were always hitting on Shashi, falling all over him, openly, even in front of their husbands! Shashi was so cool in the way he handled them, that it made them get even more moony-eyed and bolder!”
“Shashi Belted out Shammi Kapoor Songs on a Gondola Ride in Venice!”
Simi went down memory lane in Venice on a gondola ride when the ‘mild’, ‘ever-dignified’, ‘always-so-proper’ Shashi, stood up and started a half-Hindi duet with the gondolier. She said, “Each Italian line was followed with a made-up Hindi line! He was so funny — I couldn’t stop laughing. Then Shashi started belting out Shammi Kapoor songs with abandon, on top of his voice! Now, Shashi CAN’T sing!! But passing gondolas cheered and clapped! It was like a comedy scene from a film!”
“It Saddened Me Deeply When Shashi Said That He Couldn’t Remember Anything About ‘Siddhartha’, That Was Screened in Venice.”
She explained, “A few years back, Shashi and I were honoured with awards for Siddhartha in Delhi. We watched the film with the audience and as the scenes unfolded Shashi whispered to me, ‘You know I can’t remember a thing about Siddhartha. Not a thing. It’s all a blur to me’. It saddened me deeply; and that night his words kept haunting me. I thought... Is it all really a blur? Is Venice a blur too?.. The standing ovation?.. The gondola?”
“He Hated All the ‘Naach-Gaana’ Stuff but Acquiesced Just to Keep Working and Earning.”
Simi said, “As an actor, Shashi’s proclivities were always too refined for Bollywood. Maybe that was Jennifer’s influence. He hated all the ‘naach-gaana’ stuff but acquiesced just to keep working and earning.”
Having closely seen their relationship evolve, Simi called Jennifer, his anchor, his muse and his influence. She went on to say of their relationship, “...To really understand a man you have to know his wife… Here was a young Shashi who saw this beautiful woman on stage — and fell in love with the ‘pari’.”
“He pursued her with the tenacity of youth. They lived in their own little world away from the razzmatazz of Bollywood. Shashi always sought Jennifer’s approval. For a Shakespearean actor of Jennifer’s calibre — the Bollywood of that time was pretty lowbrow, to put it mildly.”
“With Jennifer Gone, Shashi Struggled, but Couldn't Find Himself.”
Simi made some painful revelations and said, “That vast area of his personality that was Jennifer — now lay empty... Shashi eventually gave up the inner struggle — and almost became a recluse...We met last at an award function at YRF Studios. At the far end of the corridor, there was this figure in a wheelchair.”
“Sanjana (Shashi Kapoor’s daughter) said to me, ‘He’s had a stroke, so one side is paralyzed. He also had a heart attack and lots of problems. He doesn’t remember people. So don’t be upset. I’m just warning you.’”
“It didn’t matter if Shashi remembered me or not, I still had to go to him. I bent down to look into his tired face. His eyes lifted and focused on me and he said: ‘Hello, Simi’. I felt like laughing… and crying... I just wanted to hug him.”
Curated from The Times of India
(The article is from The Quint’s archives and was first published in 2017. It is republished to mark Shashi Kapoor’s death anniversary)
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