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What Amitabh learnt from Shashi Kapoor

December 05, 2017 12:02 IST

'He fondly addressed me as 'babbua' .. and with him have gone many incredible unread chapters of his and my life.'


IMAGE: Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor in the Mere Paas Maa Hai scene from Deewaar.

Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor worked together in 14 films -- movies like Deewaar, Kabhi Kabhie, Trishul, Silsila, Kala Patther, Suhaag, Do Aur Do Paanch and Shaan.

When Shashi Kapoor passed into the ages on December 4, Bachchan was among the first to call at the late actor's home to pay his condolences.

He later penned a beautiful tribute to his late co-star on his blog:

Hum Zindagi Ko Apni Kahan Sambhalte
Is Keemti Kitaab Ka Kaagaz Kharab Tha

--Rumi Jafri

Standing elegantly without a care in the world, I saw him standing by a Mercedes Sports car, a convertible, a smart trimmed beard and moustache, adorning involuntarily, the face of this incredibly handsome man.

It was a picture that filled almost an entire page of a magazine.

Shashi Kapoor... son of Prithviraj Kapoor, younger brother to Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, making a debut in a forthcoming film is what the caption read.

And I said to myself, as very uncertain thoughts raced through my mind of wanting to become a film actor, that, with men like him around, I stood no chance at all.

IMAGE: Shashi and Amitabh in Do Aur Do Paanch, where they played con men ready to outdo each other.

1969, and those early years of efforts to join the industry were also the times when there was a close proximity, to the area of an atmosphere, that swivelled around this most attractive man.

On and off, common friends in the industry, which I was just getting acquainted with, would introduce me to him at select social gatherings.

"Shashi Kapoor!" was what one heard as he extended a warm soft hand out to you in introduction; that devastating smile complimenting the twinkle in his eyes.

He needn't have done so.

Everyone knew him.

But this was his infectious humble, self.

When he spoke, there was a mischievous, gentle, almost inaudible, delicate, yodel, in his voice -- most endearing and comforting to the one he was introduced to.

The self introduction habit was a gem. The one being introduced to was, quite obviously, prompted to say his or her name as well when they heard his.

It was a remarkable tool to come to know the other person's name .. and .. if and when there was to be another meeting after many forgettable years, the same technology was most helpful in remembering the other person's name, in case you had forgotten it!!

IMAGE: Amitabh and Shashi in Namak Halaal. Amitabh's job was to protect Shashi from evil.

I must admit .. it was a technology that remained with me as a learning, assisting me in using it during those uncomfortable times, when out of the blue someone would come out to you and address himself as a long lost buddy, with a 'Remember me! We last met 6 years ago at the crossing of Kemps Corner as you drove past and waved to me' !!!

My mind is warning me .. 'of course you don't, how could you possibly' .. 'stick that hand out ala Shashi Kapoor and act friendly.'

I obey.

'Yes of course I do' .. I say .. looking recognisably lost .. (sticking hand out) .. Amitabh Bachchan'..!!

And he would assure me with his .. and Kemp's Corner and waving by, passing travelling vehicle, suddenly all come flashing by .. I am saved .. and he goes away with some rather impressionable opinions about me.

The next .. was his semi curly hair on head, falling carelessly over his forehead and ears, not quite covering it .. and my upper storey mumbled again : 'Hey! maybe you should think of covering your ears as well..' and off I went to Hakim the hair dresser at Taj Hotel with my plan .. and executed, it remained till date.

IMAGE: Shashi and Amitabh in Yash Chopra's Kabhi Kabhie.

What followed .. is a documentation of a very intimate association, personal exigencies .. collective professional camaraderie .. ending in family bindings.

He had been ailing .. somewhere he had let himself go after the passing away of his dear wife Jennifer ..

I had visited him on occasion in hospital during some of the times he had been hospitalised earlier .. but I never went to see him again .. I would never have ..

I never ever wanted to see this beautiful friend and 'samdhi' in the state I saw him in hospital.

.... and I did not today, when they informed me that he had gone...

The words of the 'sher' at the opening came to me minutes after Rumi Jafri, eminent writer in our film industry, sent them to me on learning of his death.

'How long could I have preserved this exquisite and expensive book of life; the pages of the book were damaged ..'

He fondly addressed me as 'babbua' .. and with him have gone many incredible unread chapters of his and my life.

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