Shammi Kapoor the “Elvis Presley of India” passes away at 79
Veteran Bollywood actor Shammi Kapoor, who died of kidney failure on August 14, belonged to the first family of Indian film industry which included his father, veteran theatre and film actor Prithviraj Kapoor, and brothers Raj and Shashi. Originally known as Shamsher Raj Kapoor on 21st October 1931. Adityaraj Kapoor, the actor’s son, performed the last rites at the Ban Ganga Crematorium where his mother too was cremated. “Today my Parents are united” said Aditya grievingly. The entire Kapoor family were present to pay their last respects, including his grand Rishi, Randhir and Rajiv and nephew Ranbir Kapoor, nephews Shammi’s younger brother Shashi Kapoor who was very close to his brother.
His start in Bollywood did not gain recognition and fame among the masses like his father and brother Raj Kapoor. After series
of flops he reinvented himself with his first big success with Tumsa Nahin Dekha. Kapoor found stardom with his first colour film, Junglee which was a blockbuster. He also starred in hits like, An Evening in Paris, Chinatown and Kashmir Ki Kali, Dil Deke Dekho, Kashmir ki kali, Bramchari, Teesri Manzil and many more. Andaz which released in 1971, was his last movie as a leading man. During his career, he acted in more than 100 films. Kapoor was considered the Indian film industry’s first real star. He was also known as India’s finest dancer, but the truth he revealed that he was not a good dancer and also went for coaching classes, but failed to follow the steps. His sense of music and rhythm worked in his favour for which he could give good dance moves.
He got married to late Geeta Bali in 1955 who died of small pox in 1965, leaving 2 children Aditya & Kanchan. He remarried in 1969 to Neela Devi who was from the royal family of Bhavnagar. She decided not to have any kids of her own because of his 2 children from early marriage.
In 1968 he received the Filmfare award for best actor for his part in Brahmchari, and in 1982 he won a similar award for best supporting actor in Vidhaata. He received the Filmfare lifetime achievement award in 1995 and in 2001 a lifetime achievement prize at the International Indian Film Academy Awards.
Shammi Kapoor was also a keen internet buff and amongst the first Indians to have his own website. He was the founder and chairman of Internet Users Community of India (IUCI). He had also played a major role in setting up internet organisations like the Ethical Hackers Association. Kapoor also maintained a website dedicated to the ‘Kapoor family’ who have dominated Hindi-language cinema virtually since its inception.
When the internet company ‘Yahoo’ opened its office in Mumbai several years ago, he was invited by its co-founder Jerry Yang who was inspired by the Shammiji’s famous cry from the film Junglee. In his 70s, Kapoor became a passionate exponent to have maintained Facebook and Twitter accounts, describing himself as a “Renaissance man, retired actor, computer buff”. He is survived by his wife Neela Devi, son Aditya and daughter Kancchan.