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  1. #1
    Retired Staff
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    Dec 2008

    Default I asked Shashi for a job: Amitabh

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    Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor made a popular pair in several movies together, Zanjeer, Deewar, Kabhie Kabhie among them. The stars were also the best of friends, with Kapoor playing a supporting role in Bachchan’s career.

    Recalls Bachchan, “The families were known to each other because of my father and Prithvi Raj ji’s friendship; both admirers of each other’s works — one for his stage the other for his poetry. When Prithvi Theatres toured India and came to Allahabad, we would get to see not just the most inspirational plays of the doyen, but also witnessed the long poetry sessions of my father, that were conducted each night when the play would finish.”

    Before landing up in Mumbai for a job as an actor, says Bachchan, an indirect association with Kapoor had begun, through the latter’s father-in-law Geoffrey Kendall and his theatre group, of which his daughter and later Kapoor’s wife Jennifer Kendall was a part. “Mr Kendall with his Shakespeareana had visited Sherwood College in Nainital with his plays and during one of his visits initiated the Kendall Cup for Dramatics to be presented to the best actor of the year. In my second year in Sherwood, I won the best actor cup for the play ‘Government Inspector’ by Nikolai Gogol, the great Russian playwright.”

    Once in Mumbai, Bachchan blogs, “Shashiji had always been a great support. I would visit him on set when I was looking for a job, he already being an established star by then, and he would introduce me to all his directors. He never worked on Sundays and would spend the day with his two sons and daughter by the swimming pool, at the newly opened Sun n Sand Hotel in Juhu, then the only Hotel in the region. We, knowing of this activity of his would land up via the beach near the Hotel to see him, going in by the main entrance was impossible for us, and waited anxiously for him to notice us so we could spend some time with him.”

    When Kapoor was working in the James Ivory-Ismail Merchant’s Filmvalas, Bachchan approached him for a job in the production. “Ismail Merchant, the producer of the film called us one fine day and said there some small parts which we could do and that he would pay us Rs 500 for it. There were three parts available and Anwar Ali, Mehmood bhai’s brother who had become a close friend and who had worked with me as one of the 7 Indians in ‘Saat Hindustani’, and Jajal Agha, son of another great comedian in film, Agha, were the other two along with me that were given these parts. I needed the money so desperately to feed myself, I readily agreed. We 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 me that the scene was removed from the script. We had been paid our salary and were quite happy with it.”

    However, a few days later, the actors were called again for another scene and asked to report at Lands End in Bandra. “There were no hotels built there then. Sea Rock was being conceptualized and of course Taj Lands End was not even thought of. The scene that morning was of Shash ji’s death, where his body was being taken in procession to the burning pier for cremation. I was asked to be among those that formed the pall-bearers along with several other junior artists in the sequence, to carry the body. After a couple of shots we were asked to stand amongst the crowd as mourners as the shooting progressed.”

    Everything was fine till Bachchan’s old friend Kapoor dropped by later at the location. “When he saw what we had been asked to do, he walked up to me in the crowd of mourners where I was standing as a junior artist, or the ‘extra’ and asked me to move. ‘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 mine from the film.”

    “And one fine day,” says Bachchan, “at the first shot for the film Deewar at Raj Kamal Studio, I stood along with him for the keepsake photograph after the ‘mahurat’, with him playing my younger brother. I had travelled from being an ‘extra’ in Shashi Kapoor’s film to playing a prominent role along him. At the premier of Deewar in 1975 I drove with my parents and family via Marine Drive to the Minerva Cinema. Zanjeer had released. Right from the turning of Marine Drive to Minerva the crowds of people ran along with the car, thumping the glass panes and the body of my newly acquired navy blue Mercedes, a moment I would or could never have dreamed of.”

    “The film started and Shashi ji was beside me in the next seat. We never said a word. Premier butterflies. But when the scene under the bridge started, the ‘mere pass maa hai’ moment, I felt a gentle hand on mine. It was Shashi ji’s. He never spoke, but the way he held my hand said everything. It was reassurance, it was affection, it was acknowledgement, it was complimentary, it was appreciation.. it was everything that a struggling actor that had once played an ‘extra’ in a film that starred this gentleman sitting next to me, had never ever dreamt would happen.”

    Bachchan adds, “Shashi Kapoor and I became inseparables in many successful ventures that followed. Leading ladies would shy away from our projects by proclaiming that there would be nothing left for them to do once SK and AB were there together. He directed his first film with me. He became my relative when Shweta married Raj Kapoor’s grandson. But forever he remained that same cultured, well meaning, soft spoken, fun loving colleague of mine. After his wife Jennifer’s death he became distraught. He has let himself go and closed himself up almost as a recluse. He barely acknowledges an invitation to come over. He is reticent to meet anyone. He will dutifully call on birthdays and hurriedly disappear after the greetings are over. And he will be untraceable on his own birthday. ... He has built Prithvi Theatres at Juhu, in memory of his legendary father and is very proud of it. His daughter Sanjana runs it most impressively for him. He visits the theatre on occasion, but has been inaccessible otherwise.”

    However, the connection continues, writes Bachchan, “His elder son Kunal, who is in advertising, recently directed and produced an ad film with me for Binani Cement, whose brand ambassador I am. On set learning the ropes was Kunal’s son and Shashi ji’s grandson as an assistant. What a lot of time has gone by!”

  2. #2
    Kal Ho Na Ho
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    India & Cambodia


    Thank you

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    thanks so much



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