This week on Flashback, we take a look at the times and life of Balbir Raj Prithviraj Kapoor better known as Shashi Kapoor, the youngest brother of the second generation of the Kapoor clan Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor. This son of Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Mehra was born on the 18th of March 1938, in Calcutta. This youngest of the four children of Prithviraj Kapoor was quite a favourite of his father and so used to travel with his father’s theatre company Prithvi Theatre. 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). 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). He won the National Award for being the producer of the best film in 1978 (Junoon) and also a Filmfare Award for best film in 1980, Kalyug.
Shashi Kapoor was also the first Indian actor to be a part of international films. He acted in several Merchant Ivory productions like The Householder (1963), Shakespeare Wallah (1965), Bombay Talkie (1970) 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).
Bollywood’s eternal heartthrob and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee Shashi Kapoor passed away this week from complications of long-standing heart and liver problems. As the skies opened up 79-year-old Shashi Kapoor was cremated with state honours at the Santacruz Hindu crematorium. The entire film industry that turned up to pay their last respects testifies to the respect he earned through his career.
He was one of those rare personalities who dabbled in both commercial and art cinema, Indian and international cinema, and acting and cinema production with equal ease. He was a gentleman and an actor his contribution to not just Hindi cinema but global cinema would always be remembered.
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