New Delhi: November 8 would be a special date indeed in tinsel town as Amitabh Bachchan’s last movie with Shashi Kapoor was released on the same date 25 years ago in 1991. The dynamic duo have worked together in many remarkable movies like ‘Shaan’, ‘Deewar’, ‘Trishul’, ‘Suhag’, ‘Silsila’, ‘Kala Pathhar’, ‘Kabhi Kabhi’, ‘Roti Kapda Aur Makaan’, etc but ‘Akayla’ was their last movie together in which Shashi Kapoor played a senior police officer with Bachchan despite him being younger than Big B. Prior to Akayla Shashi Kapoor had played the role of a police officer in the movies Suhag and Deewar along with Amitabh Bachchan.
Following Akayla, Shashi Kapoor was able to manage just one movie in the Hindi film industry along with two English movies and a mini TV series. This movie was special for Jackie Shroff too.
Prior to Akayla, Shashi Kapoor used to play the role of the younger brother of Amitabh or a friend, but in Akayla he portrayed a Police Commissioner while Amitabh played a police inspector. This marked an end of their ‘on-screen friendship’, but in real life they started their friendship. This was revealed by Amitabh in his blog in 2009. The Kapoor and Bachchan families were known to each other because of the friendship between Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Prithvi Raj Kapoor.
Amitabh had developed a good understanding with Shashi Kapoor’s father-in-law Mr Geoffrey Kendall, who at that time ran a theatre group called Shakespeareana. When Amitabh came to Mumbai, Shashi Kapoor was already a superstar and had 5-6 superhit movies in his account.
During that era when there were no mobile phones, Shashi Kapoor never worked on Sundays and would spend the day with his children by the swimming pool at the newly opened Sun n Sand Hotel in Juhu, then the only hotel in the region. Amitabh, knowing of this activity, would land up via the beach near the hotel to see him.
Shortly after, Shashi was working in the James Ivory – Ismail Merchant Production of an English film. Bachchan approached him if he could get a job in this production. Ismail Merchant, the producer of the film, called him one day and said there were some parts which he could do and that he would pay him Rs 500. They shot a funny little episode in a studio for a day, but were later told that it was not going to be used in the film as the story did not require it. It did not matter to Amitabh that the scene was removed from the script. He had been paid his salary and was quite happy with it. Later, the production called Amitabh again to say that he was required for another scene.
The scene that morning was of Shashi’s death, where his body was being taken in a procession to the pier for cremation. Amitabh was asked to be among those that formed the posse of pallbearers along with several other junior artists in the sequence, to carry the body. Shashi Kapoor was not at the shoot. When he saw what Amitabh had been asked to do, he walked up to him in the crowd of mourners where Amitabh was standing as a junior artist. ‘Don’t do these bit parts’ he advised, ‘you are made for better things’ and then spoke to the director to delete those portions of Bachchan from the film.
Nonetheless, cinematic brilliance was surely going to be unleashed soon as the day came when both were standing under a bridge and Shashi Kapoor gave the legendary filmi reply to Amitabh Bachchan — Mere Paas Maa Hai’- during the shooting of ‘Deewar’.
When Aamir Khan’s ‘Dhoom’ was released, the people who saw Amitabh-Shashi’s Akayla were very surprised. Dhoom’s idea of Aamir Khan’s dual role was inspired from the villian’s role in Akayla. In the 1991 movie the main villain escaped every time with the help of his twin brother who was a lookalike of him, the same role that Aamir Khan played in Dhoom 3. The only difference was that Aamir Khan was a big hero, so his role was glamourised and Yash Raj added a heroine too to enhance the role. In Dhoom, Big B’s son Abhishek Bachchan plays the role of a police inspector just like the one Amitabh played in Akayla. The interesting thing is that Ramesh Sippy wanted Kamal Hassan for the villain’s role but he didn’t get his dates and Salim Khan was the culprit who introduced Keith Stevenson to Ramesh Sippy. Ramesh was not sure Keith’s Hindi was good but once he passed the test, he was signed.
Akayla was the last film of Amitabh Bachchan with Shashi Kapoor but this was the very first movie of Jackie Shroff with Amitabh Bachchan, in which Jackie played Shekhar, the close friend of Big B. Later they worked together in many movies like ‘Eklavya’, ‘Kohram’, ‘Teen Patti’, etc. There were 2 actresses in this movie, Amrita Singh and Meenakshi Sheshadri. Both were also seen in the movie ‘Toofan’ with Amitabh Bachchan, but in Akayla Meenakshi played Jackie’s wife’s role and the ‘Mard’ heroine Amrita Singh was the lady love of Bachchan in Akayla.
There are many more interesting facts about the movie — Akayla, which was Ramesh Sippy’s movie. The director has many blockbusters to his name with Amitabh Bachchan like ‘Sholay’, ‘Shaan’ and ‘Shakti’. Although Akayla did not prove to be a blockbuster at the box office it was the top most grosser that year. Ramesh Sippy also gave a break to Kiran Juneja in this movie opposite Aditya Pancholi, who played the younger brother of Amitabh Bachchan. Kiran later went on to become a familiar face in the Indian household for her role in the serial ‘Buniyaad’.
Another interesting fact of this movie is that Helen came back on screen after a long break of 6 years, although it was also the last movie of her husband Salim Khan along with the duo of Ramesh Sippy and Amitabh Bachchan. Director Sippy also wanted to sign Kumar Gaurav for Bachchan’s younger brother’s role but he refused and so he later signed Aditya Pancholi for this character.
Ramesh Sippy planned this movie with Amitabh at a time when he was facing some problems. Akayla was released in 1991 after ‘Hum’, ‘Ajooba’ and ‘Indrajeet’. After ‘Khuda Gawah’ Big B took a long break from movies. So Ramesh Sippy planned the movie’s title after much discussion; ‘akayla’ means alone. Even on the posters the tagline was worded — He fights best when he fights alone — referring to Amitabh Bachchan.
Akayla’s story is that of an honest police inspector Vijay Verma. The main villain succeeds in escaping with the help of the police inspector’s lookalike twin brother. When Vijay manages to arrest the villain, he can’t prove his presence at the crime scene. The story deals with how the inspector manages to nab the wrongdoers.
Two songs sung by Sudesh Bhonsle in the movie became very popular among children — Chal Chal Ri Meri Rampyari and Mujhe Kuchh na Kehna. Though it was a top grosser, this Ramesh Sippy movie couldn’t create the same magic as Sholay, Shaan or Shakti. Also Shashi Kapoor’s role was that of only giving instructions, more like — don’t take the law in your hands.
But who knew then that one day Yash Raj Films would sign on Aamir Khan for a mega movie after being inspired by the villain’s role in the movie Akayla.
During the making of Akayla no one had any idea that this was going to be the last movie of Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan together, that too in the roles of policemen.