Shammi Kapoor, the dancing star of the 1950s and 1960s who revolutionised the image of Hindi film heroes with his carefree attitude and flamboyance, died here Sunday morning. A luminary of the Kapoor family that has furnished Bollywood stars for four generations now, he was 79.
His son Aditya Raj Kapoor said the funeral is set for Monday as the family is awaiting the arrival of the legend’s grandson, Vishwapratap Raj Kapoor.
“We are basically waiting for my son to come from America. He will reach Mumbai tonight (Sunday). He left yesterday (Saturday) night. That time we had told him that dad is very critical. But before he could make it here, dad passed away,” said Aditya who was at his father’s side when he breathed his last.
The actor passed away at the Breach Candy Hospital at 5 a.m. He was admitted to the hospital a week ago for renal failure.
The second of three sons of the iconic Prithviraj Kapoor, Shammi’s equally versatile actor brothers were the late Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor, who is ailing.
While struggling to create a niche for himself in the filmdom, which used to vouch for his legendary father and talented elder brother Raj, Shammi met Geeta Bali in 1955 on the sets of “Rangeen Raaten” and four months later they tied the knot. They had a son, Aditya, and a daughter, Kanchan.
Geeta died of smallpox in 1965, leaving Shammi with two small children. In 1969, he married Neela Devi Gohil from the erstwhile royal family of Bhavnagar in Gujarat.
Aditya remembers his father as a “happy and lively person” and has hoped his fans will pray his soul rests in peace.
“He was a very happy and lively person. His life was going good. But he was on dialysis and he died of kidney failure. “He was unwell for sometime… please pray that his soul rests in peace. I miss him and I know so will you,” he told reporters at the Blue Haven Society in Malabar Hill in south Mumbai.
“Today is family day. People will come and see him. Tomorrow morning around 9 a.m. we will cremate him at the Ban Ganga funeral ground.”
Shashi Kapoor, nephews Randhir and Rishi Kapoor, grandnieces Karisma and Kareena, Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Imran Khan and his wife Avantika, Farah Khan and industrialist Anil Ambani arrived at the Kapoor residence at the Blue Haven Society to pay their last respects to the departed soul.
Others spotted were Subhash Ghai, Kajol, Farhan Akhtar, Aamir Khan, Karan Johar, Rani Mukerji, Vinod Khanna, Bobby Deol, Imtiaz Ali, Anupam Kher, Imran Khan and his wife Avantika.
“More than the industry’s loss, this is my bigger personal loss. I was very close to him and we used to meet often. I used to go and see him. I was to make a documentary on him. But I didn’t expect that he will leave us like this. Even at the age of 79, he was the representative of youth. His spirit was so young and youthful,” Ghai told reporters.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the death of veteran actor.
“I am sad to learn of Shammi Kapoor’s demise. He was an accomplished actor who entertained millions and millions of fans in India and abroad. I share his family’s grief,” an official statement quoted Manmohan Singh as saying.
Shammi joined the cinema world in 1948 as a junior artist on Rs.150 a month. His debut in Bollywood came in 1953 with the film “Jeevan Jyoti”. In a career that stretched into the 1970s, the tall, athletic and green-eyed hero had his share of struggle before he made it big. And his recipe to the success was his makeover as a flamboyant yet lovable lover boy who would twist and turn his body in amazing way in his dance numbers and had the girls swooning over him.
Thanks to his freshness and style, Shammi managed to deliver big hits like “An Evening in Paris”, “China Town”, “Kashmir Ki Kali”, “Janwar” and “Junglee”.
Shammi was also a very religious person and in one of his interviews he had said that it was the influence of his mother Ramsarni “Rama” Mehra.
“I am a very religious person and right from the time i was very young, my mother used to teach me the ‘Gayatri Mantra’. I must have been eight-nine years old that time,” Shammi said in his official voice blog, adding that there used to regular puja and dstribution of ‘prasad’ on Tuesdays at his home.
His second wife Neela used to believe in Baba Haidakhanwale and she was the one who introduced him to his guru.