Remembering Shashi Kapoor, India’s First International Star

Shashi Kapoor dies at the age of 79. 

2 min read

One of Bollywood’s most prolific and beloved actors Shashi Kapoor passed away today at the age of 79. He had been suffering from prolonged illness. The veteran actor-filmmaker is survived by his three children Karan, Kunal, and Sanjna Kapoor.

A leading star in the 60s, 70s and 80s, Shashi followed the Kapoor family legacy early to start acting at the age of four in his father Prithviraj Kapoor’s plays. His name, Balbir Raj Prithviraj Kapoor, was changed to Shashiraj when he started acting in films like Sangram (1950), Dana Paani (1953), Aag (1948) and Awaara (1951), as a child artiste.


He made his debut as a leading man in Dharmputra (1961) and went on to appear in 116 Hindi films. One of the most beautiful men in Indian cinema, Shashi charmed the audience in solo lead films like Sharmeelee (1971), Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973), Fakira (1976) and Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978). At the same time, he starred in around 55 multi-starrers including Waqt (1965), Deewaar (1975), Kabhie Kabhie (1976) and Shaan (1980).

Shashi Kapoor was also the first Indian actor to be part of international films. He acted in several Merchant Ivory productions like The Householder (1963), Shakespeare Wallah (1965), Bombay Talkie (1970) and Heat and Dust (1982) and Muhafiz (1994). He also starred in other British and American films such as Pretty Polly (or A Matter Of Innocence (1967), Siddhartha (1972), and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987).

The actor ventured into production in 1978 and set up Film Valas, which produced a handful of critically acclaimed films like Junoon (1978), Kalyug (1981), 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), Vijeta (1982) and Utsav (1984). In 1991 he produced and directed a fantasy film titled Ajooba starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor.

Shashi, along with actor-wife Jennifer Kendal, established Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai in November, 1978. It grew to become a vibrant cultural hub of the city.

He won several awards including three National Awards, and had been honoured with Padma Bhushan (2011) and Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2014).

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