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Editorial

December 6, 2017

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Shashi Kapoor

While many things divide Pakistan and India, love for cinema – specifically Bollywood – is one of the rare instances both countries can claim to have in common, which is why the death of Shashi Kapoor – possibly one of the most beautiful actors Bollywood has produced – will be mourned across the border in Pakistan as well. For decades the heartthrob of millions, Kapoor died at the age of 79 at a Mumbai hospital on Monday. He was one of the stars of what many still remember as the golden age of Indian cinema in the 60s and 70s. Films such as Deewar (1975), Kabhi Kabhi (1976) and Shaan (1980) left an impact on cinema audiences that remain fresh almost forty years after their release. Kapoor’s film trajectory also showed another remarkable aspect. He was willing to play supporting roles without letting his ego get in the way – but his supporting roles were themselves remarkable landmarks in acting. In many of his most popular films, Shashi Kapoor played supporting role to Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man persona. The two acted together in 14 films. Bachchan was the superstar, but Shashi Kapoor was no less an icon in his own right. Shashi also starred in a number of English language films. In many ways he revolutionised the Bollywood film scene by investing in art movies and by creating a sense of magic that remains associated only with him.
The Bollywood of the 1960s came from the theatre business. It was theatre actors that would make their way onto the film screen. This is the generation Shashi Kapoor belonged to. He was born into a family of actors and theatre maestros. His late father Prithvi Raj Kapoor set up a theatre company which survives even today. His brothers Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor were huge names in the Mumbai film industry. In this he carried forward the legacy of his illustrious family. The images that Shashi left behind imprinted on the screen will remain for a very long time. His career influenced several generations of

Indian actors and film fans. The loss of his wife, Jennifer, in 1984 devastated him and his own decline in health started in that period. Shashi Kapoor was a true Bollywood star who never forgot his origins. He continued to produce art-house films in his life and also continued to dabble in theatre. The Kapoor name remains a prominent one in Bollywood, with the next generation of the family’s stars continuing to light up the screens in one hit after the other. But, as the last of the older Kapoor brothers, Shashi Kapoor’s death signifies the end of an era.

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