21st October, 2014 would have been the eighty third birthday of Shammi Kapoor – the only actor that I have been a fan of and drooled over in my teenage years. It is another thing that he was way past his prime by the time I was born!
My interest in old Hindi movies and music – which at one point bordered obsession- is entirely thanks to this man. It began in those days, when schools in Delhi were shut down unexpectedly due to the raging Mandal Commission agitation.There was no lending library nearby, so there wasn’t that much reading I could do. There was a video cassette lending library though and that man stocked mostly old Hindi movies and some English ones. By the time normalcy returned and schools reopened, I had watched many many movies and most of them had one thing in common – Shammi Kapoor. The movie that started it all was Kashmir Ki Kali (1964). Yes, Kashmir has been the backdrop of many movies of the sixties, but to me, this remains the most beautiful movie – breathtaking and picture perfect. The dashing Shammi, the very pretty Sharmila, the menacing Pran and the avuncular Nazir Hussain, the music of O.P. Nayyar and the voices of Mohd Rafi and Asha Bhosle – I have a big soft spot for these artistes since. (I adore Mohd Rafi – now I suspect that this has to do with the fact that he was the voice of Shammi Kapoor)… But I digress…
Coming back to Shammi Kapoor, what has kept me enthralled by him even after all these years. Maybe it is how he can be charming, dashing, sensitive and very funny all at the same time. His roles were entertaining and his movies were great fun. I have watched almost all his movies from the fifties to the late seventies – even the bad ones from the seventies, where he played the hero – Preetam, Jaane Anjaane to name a couple. But I don’t have any favourite performances (well maybe because I am very biased and he was a decent actor and I like most of them – not the movies but the characters he played.) Thankfully, he didn’t torture his audiences once past his prime and quickly moved on to play some very endearing character roles from the mid seventies onwards. So there are no embarrassing, cringe-worthy roles of his where he was chasing some young chick thirty years younger than him! Thank god for that!
As a tribute to this charming actor, here is a list of ten of my favourite songs. A very subjective list and there are so many numbers I have left out because of the self-imposed restriction
1) Hum Aur Tum Aur Yeh Sama (1959, Dil Deke Dekho, MD: Usha Khanna): This is a huge favourite at home – both the movie and the song. My husband also adores Shammi Kapoor and especially this song, so I have lost count of the number of times we must have watched this movie. I get the goosebumps each time I hear it. The music, Mohd Rafi’s rendition and Shammi Kapoor on screen – the entire combination is intoxicating.
2) Dekho Kasam Se Kasam Se (1957, Tumsa Nahin Dekha, MD: O.P.Nayyar): This was a difficult one to pick. I love all the songs of this movie especially the title track (Yun toh Humne Lakh Haseen Dekhe hain) and the very romantic Jawaniyan Yeh Mast Mast. I picked this one cos there has to be a song from this movie – it is after all the movie that catapulted him to stardom. The song is lilting and a very breezy roothna-manana number. Ameeta looks sweet and Shammi looks very charming as he feigns mock-anger.
3) Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra… (1964, Kashmir Ki Kali, MD: O.P.Nayyar): One of the best-known Shammi Kapoor songs, this is a classic from Kashmir Ki Kali. Mohd Rafi is at his best – listen to the different ways he sings Tareef Karoon Kya Uski in the song. Sharmila looks drop dead gorgeous in her debut Hindi movie. And Shammi Kapoor is at his best – boisterous, flamboyant and quite comical. Think one of the reasons he made it so big in those days was because he did not take himself very seriously. The way he falls straight into the water at the end of the song is quite funny.
4) Deewana Hua Badal (1964, Kashmir Ki Kali, MD: O.P.Nayyar): I remember reading an interview of Shakti Samanta’s son where he mentioned that Shankar Jaikishan (a Shammi Kapoor favourite) was the first choice as the music directors for Kashmir Ki Kali. But Shakti Samanta heard some thirty tunes composed by O.P.Nayyar and he was in. Samanta picked 12 tunes out of which some were used for this movie and the rest for Saawan Ki Ghata (1966). This enchanting Mohd Rafi-Asha Bhosle duet is one of my all-time favourite songs. It has a gentle melody and the music is extremely mellifluous. The entire beauty of unsullied, pre-militancy Kashmir is captured in this song. Sharmila Tagore wafts through the song to the Dal Lake, followed by a buoyant Shammi Kapoor, as the camera captures the enchanting locales of Kashmir. The lyrics, music, singing and picturisation render this one of the most romantic songs ever – dreamy and sublime.
5) Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujh Par (1961, Junglee, MD: Shankar Jaikishen): Junglee may have been more famous for the title song, Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe, announcing the arrival of the “rebel star” of the sixties. And yes there were other melodious songs like Suku Suku, Din Sara Guzara Tore Angana, Jaa Jaa Mere Bachpan and Kashmir Ki Kali Hoon Main. But the best song of this movie is very tender, very achingly romantic Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujh Par. Saira Banu’s character is furious. Shammi Kapoor is gentle and vulnerable (like a little boy?) as he pleadingly convinces her of his love through this song. And he looks so very handsome!
6) Chori Chori Ek Ishaara Ho Gaya Hai (1960, Basant, MD – O.P. Nayyar): Another O.P. Nayyar composition sung by Asha -Rafi. This song was a favourite of Doordarshan back in the days when I used to watch Chitrahaar and Rangoli. However, I do not recall the movie ever being aired. I would have watched it – had it been aired then. Now, Nutan is my favourite actress (based on her pre-1965 performances and not the weepy roles in those numerous Madras productions). So this was one movie I always wanted to watch. I finally got my hands on the CD from a shop in Palika Bazaar in 2004 when I was visiting Delhi (Was based elsewhere back then.) And oh the excitement – of finally getting to watch it. And what a disappointment it turned out to be. The movie was a pathetic rehash of It happened one night in the first half and then became a tribal version of An Affair to Remember in the second half. Nutan looked lovely and Shammi was very charming – the positives in this dreary movie. And yes, the songs were good. Just for the sheer melody of the number and how lovely the lead couple look here, this song still features in this list of favourites!
7) Gham-e-hasti se Begaana Hota (1962, Vallah Kya Baat Hai, MD – Roshan): This movie had an interesting cast – Shammi Kapoor was paired opposite Bina Rai. The music was by the legendary Roshan – not the usual music director for a Shammi Kapoor movie. However, the songs were very good: for example, the lilting tanga song – Ek toh Surat Pyaari, or the title track, Vallah Kya Baat Hai or the Manna Dey number, Kaanton Ke Saaye (one of those times when Rafi was not singing for Shammi Kapoor. Manna Dey had also sung the very melodious Jhoomta Mausam Mast mahina from Ujala for Shammi). However the song in this list is that classic song from the movie. The lyrics of this song (by Anand Bakshi) are philosophical and meaningful. The music and singing are brilliant and Shammi Kapoor is amazing – as ever. I had heard this song on the radio before watching it. I for one did not make out that it was Shammi Kapoor on screen till I heard the announcer mention the name of the movie.
8) Akele Akele Kahan Jaa Rahe Ho (1966, An Evening in Paris, MD- Shankar-Jaikishen): An Evening in Paris was a gorgeous movie – superb locations, lovely cast (Shammi looks dapper and Sharmila looks so classy and elegant and oomphy and then there is Helen!) and a superb soundtrack. The story sucked and honestly the movie is very so -so – Not one of Shakti Samanta’s best. I had a tough time picking one song from this movie. All the songs are very popular – Aasmaan Se Aaya Farishta or Dekho Dekho An Evening in Paris or Deewane Ka Naam Na Poocho or that amazing Rafi-Asha duet –Raat Ke Humsafar Thak Ke Ghar Ko Chale (superb orchestration imo in this song! Sharmila looks very chic in her knotted blouse!)
But the song of the movie for me is Akele Akele Kahan Jaa Rahe ho – where Shammi Kapoor runs behind Sharmila in the Swiss Alps! The orchestration is brilliant; and so is the picturisation! Look at the colour coordination – very much there and yet not in your face.
9) Tumse Accha Kaun Hai (1964, Jaanwar, MD- Shankar Jaikishen): One of Shammi’s most popular numbers from the film Jaanwar. Yes, the movie also had the very famous chhed chhad number – Lal Chhadi Maidan Khadi and the romantic Meri Mohabbat Jawan Rahegi (superb lyrics and singing). It also featured the poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz – Raat Youn Dil Mein Teri in the voices of Asha Bhosle and Mohd Rafi. It particularly made a connect in my very young mind as I had just watched the Pakistani serial Dhoop Kinaray (in which also the same couplet had featured) those days.
But the song that I remember the most was one that showed up in Rangoli almost every week – a buffoonish Shammi Kapoor prancing around (in a rug and a black cap) singing Tumse Accha Kaun Hai to an irritated Rajshree much to the amusement of her friends. The song is funny and I remember it more for his non self-conscious antics. Music is superb and Mohd Rafi is brilliant… but then whats new in that!
10) Tumne Mujhe Dekha (1965, Teesri Manzil, MD- R.D. Burman): This is my favourite song from this Vijay Anand whodunit. Starring Asha Parekh and Shammi Kapoor, it has music by R.D. Burman. Again everyone who knows anything about Hindi movies knows the backstory – Shammi wanted Shankar Jaikishen as the music directors till he heard a few tunes composed by Pancham and Pancham was in. The movie indeed has memorable music – each and every song is a classic – remembered to this day.
It is common knowledge that Shammi Kapoor shot for this song when he resumed shooting for this movie after his wife Geeta Bali’s death. The grief is very much evident. The whole song is mesmerizing – Majrooh’s simple words, Pancham da’s music and Rafi’s voice – along with Shammi’s expressions. An out of the world experience….
I was visiting my sister in the States when Shammi Kapoor passed away on August 14, 2011. This was the song that came to my mind – among all his various numbers.
He is no more today – but he lives on – in my home at least – where we do make it a point to watch his movies and listen to his songs!