Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rockstar, Shammi Kapoor

A final Yahoo to Rockstar Shammi Kapoor

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rockstar, Shammi Kapoor

[Interview given to Vasundhara Ramanujan, Author Shades of Life, published posthumously]

His left hand busied shuffling music, while the right hand deftly steered his Mercedes 350 out of the impressive, black iron gates of Breach Candy Hospital. Even as the first notes of music streamed out, he began humming one of his all- times favorite tracks ‘Deewana Mujhsa Nahin’ from the box office film ‘Teesri Manzil’. Under the car’s seat belt, his body began swaying in synch with the music, his fingers tapping the steering wheel.

The atmosphere was so cheerful that his wife, Neela Devi became visibly happy as she settled comfortably in the adjacent black leather seat. She smiled knowingly, ‘Today it will be a long drive home.’ Suddenly the blackberry resting on the cradle by her side, illuminated showing signs of activation. Picking up the instrument she responded,
“Hello…Oh…how are you? Yes, he is very much here… he will love to talk to you, but he is driving …I will ask him to call you…sure…bye…bye” smiling courteously, she replaced the phone.

Seeing his wondrous look, she continued, “That was Imtiaz Ali…”

“Imtiaz!” bellowed Shammi, happy to hear that the young movie director had called. “I like his films, youthful, romantic and above all traditional… Kya Kaha Ra tha (What did he say?)”

“He has sent you details of a new film. He offers you a role in that …”

“Yes…I heard about that project…seems interesting… Ranbir is such an energetic young man…he will fit well into this role…Imtiaz made the right choice… So he wants me to face the camera again? I have already posted my ‘retired’ status on twitter for everyone to read and know.”

Shammi Kapoor turned to his wife, happy that even at 79 years, he was considered to perform with his young blooded grandnephew. He thumped his steering wheel, shouting “Yahoo,” in a hoarse voice. “Feel great that I am being offered an acting role… superb news…!”

His wife was happy to see him so cheerful. “You want to do it?”

By now his expression had changed and she knew what occupied his mind.

Later, after dinner he retired to his study. Picking up the dossier he read the message posted by Imtiaz Ali. Then he read the brief script that the award winning director had sent him. Closing his eyes, he let his imagination run wild and visualized how he would play that role. “Hmm…sounds good.”

Shammi’s first call next morning was to the man who should approve this ridiculous escapade for him, a wheel chair patient. He spoke enthusiastically about the new development.

The doctor heard him through and enquired about the location of the shoot, medical arrangements possible there and shared relevant medical information for the purpose of his accepting the offer to play a character in a movie. Satisfied that things could be organised, the doctor gave his consent.

The fact that his patient on thrice- a- week hemodialysis was going back to acting made him proud.

Shammi Kapoor looked at himself in the mirror.

“I am so excited with the whole idea… facing the camera again … How I love life and being alive! I am going to accept this at all costs…I am sure Neela will help me organize the dialysis and…Oh…she will do everything…I am sure…This is wonderful opportunity!”

Then, for a moment he became silent, thoughtful with eyes moist, tears held back.

“Acting again…but in my new avatar… in a wheelchair...hmm…Oh…God whatever you want from me? You changed my life and now you are showing new ways to find my joy…

What a day that was… in June 2003…The severe cough, chest pain, fever and difficulty in breathing…the hospitalization… it took some time to detect it… finally the doctors had said it was pneumonia … a chest X-ray and many more tests established that both my lungs were badly infected…

They started treatment with heavy doses of antibiotics...but in the ICU my condition had deteriorated…

Suddenly one day…how delirious I had become…Neela had been shocked and so anxious about how my health was gradually going down…

Then the doctors did tracheostomy… the surgical procedure on my neck to help the oxygen go to the lungs and possibly clear the top it all…the nasogastric feeding tube that helped me to stay fit to fight for life…

But…when a few days later I opened my eyes at day break…I was in an unfamiliar room. Neela was relieved to see me awake and explained with great patience that I was in the Kidney Center…Why…my mind had questioned?... What for? I had asked a little angry…a little shocked and very deeply hurt.

The nephrologist came later in the day… that was my first meeting with Dr Bhupendra Gandhi. He gave me the most shocking news! …My kidneys had failed! How come… but the doctor spoke reassuringly and guided me on what would give me a chance for better life…

He said I would need hemo dialysis for survival …on closer questioning the doctor informed me that the strong medications and antibiotics used to treat pneumonia had induced my kidney failure …

Even as I overcame my shock I agreed to start dialysis…My Guru’s blessings were always there…Gradually it had dawned on me that there was no other way to return to normalcy… I took it in my stride…understood how valuable dialysis was… the best option for a good life…I chose to be a good patient… medically complaint while retaining my spirits…happy and cheerful… that is how people always saw me…no matter what, this is expected of me...

Seeing Neela busying herself at the other end of the room, a sudden smile spread on his face. Neela crossed over placed her hand on his shoulder and asked anxiously, “So what did Dr Gandhi say?”

“He said your efficient wife will definitely ensure your health is not compromised,” adding with a twinkle in his eyes, “I will do it. Kya malum kab aishe maoka phir millegi (who knows when I will get another chance)”

Once again he got immersed in his thoughts…

This offer to act comes after nearly ten years... Excited to share screen space with Ranbir, my grandnephew… the third generation from the Kapoor Khaandaan (family).

Hmm…Last night’s drive was so wonderful…Mercedes knows how to engineer

Smooth-driving, luxurious cars for enthusiasts…but how my hands ache to steer a Ghost, Rolls Royce … hmm…one day soon, maybe…and then I will sing- “Yahoo” again.

Ahre…I must play another of my favorite Rafi songs “Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par”…this now for my God…not for my co-star.

Shammi Kapoor called Imtiaz a few days later and confirmed his participation. He tweeted ... “Nervous and excited about the role…”

Neela Devi meticulously planned to ensure Shammi Kapoor was comfortable during the shooting schedules, by being well- dialyzed. Imtiaz made special arrangements for emergency dialysis in New Delhi. They knew how critical dialysis was for senior Kapoor’s health.

Despite restrictions placed due to his health, Kapoor plunged deep into the character with no restraint. The “Yahoo” man’s performance was mind blowing. The short screen presence was performed with full gusto leaving a larger than life impression. The production team applauded, and Imtiaz Ali was floored by the energy generated by the aged, seasoned actor and declared him to be the true “Rockstar”.

Shammi Kapoor’s exuberance and lively disposition at the studios created a huge impact on his

co-stars, producers, director, camera men and the complete contingent involved in the film making. True inspiration to live life to the hilt was experienced by every person on the sets.

His last on-screen presence became the acid test on his acting skills. Will his passionately playing the ‘shenai’ in ‘Rockstar’ reverberate enough to bring his fans on their feet, copying his nimble footwork on a dance floor or whether his health would be seen as reason for low energy?

Knowing him, he will reign and the audience’s verdict will confirm it. We await release of "Rockstar" with abated breadth.

His medical challenges: Very early, Shammi Kapoor had understood how much constraint kidney failure will place on his quality of life. Dialysis- he knew was a way of life for some people, not by their personal choice but due to medical factors. Philosophically, it may be destined for those affected. Much depends on how such a set-back is dealt with.

Faced with renal failure, he showed courage and accepted it with equanimity. Even with dialysis he continued to win people’s hearts with his friendliness. Many surgeries and hospitalizations caved into his living space, but undeterred he marched to achieve his objectives.

Dialysis is a life-saving tool for patients with kidney failure. If you are facing it, learn its’ benefits. Improve life with medical care. Adopt an attitude to live with it. Enjoy life even with it. After all, sublime joy is in living.

Shamsher Raj Kapoor 21st October 1931- 14th August 2011

Late Shamsher Raj Kapoor, popularly known in the Indian film industry as Shammi Kapoor was a handsome man, loved by the movie buffs for his lively disposition. He enchanted his audience with his exuberant persona in the 1950’s and a more than a decade thereafter. The fair complexioned, green eyed actor was tall, athletic and graceful on his feet. His name brings flashes of his on-screen image, his loudest yelp 'yahoo', in his memorable movie- “Junglee” as he tumbled down the slopes of snow covered Kashmir’s mountains with total, boisterous abandon.

In his many memorable roles, he was an epitome of the romantic hero. His persona with a combination of flamboyance, boyishness and gentlemanly style, won him millions of hearts. His nimble footwork, agile body, swaying mesmerizingly to sizzling,mind blowing music created pure magic by this versatile actor. He enjoyed great female fan following and his leading female co-stars complemented him, in weaving stories of romance. Classic stories of love, romance and action along with his huge charisma, made good business at the box office. In his later years the actor attempted film production and directorship, but returned to acting on character roles. His work continued to draw attention and audience appreciation.


This legendary actor also leaves behind an impression in the corporate world. Understanding how the Internet would one day rdetermine how people will communicate with easy, economically and with speed, Kapoor founded the Internet Users Community of India and became one of the most net savvy individuals from among over 1.15 billion people in the vast country.

This glorious tribute and homage is to an actor par-excellence, this is a salute to an inspiring kidney patient for his positivity in dealing with a life threatening disease, making him the role model for many patients.

Other interesting news & articles:!/shamsheraj

Vasundhara Raghavan9:27 PM0 comments

Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)