Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The SRK who did not want to be one!

To mourn Shammi Kapoor would be to neutralise the very essence of the man that he was.

By Murali Gopy

Had Shamsher Raj Kapoor opted to be known by his real name, he would have been the original SRK of Indian Cinema. True to his style, he preferred to rubberise nomenclature and chose to be known as Shammi Kapoor. At a time when mainstream Bollywood was suffering from stiff-neck narratives, Shammi jumped in and gave us a boneless chilly romantic, whose kinesthetic antics redrafted the concept of Hero.

Shammi Kapoor never aspired to become an intense actor. He did not want his shelves to be a slum of statuettes. He did not overload his bank lockers with award citations. He behaved like a moonstruck student ever-ready to tease his overzealous class teacher. He dusted the screen and rephrased stardom with a pink chalk. He defied parochial norms and dictations.

The second son of the patriarchal Prithviraj Kapoor—an anatomical replica of his dad—chose to tread a path diagonally opposite the one his dad walked. If Prithviraj was the personification of Authority, Shammi became the epitome of Defiance. And he did not break doors and bash up villains to prove that he was a rebel. He just gyrated the way a man never did, till that day!

Shammi Kapoor made his signature entry on screen 10 years after India became independent. His elder brother Raj had already taken to playing the super-innocent tramp, singing patriotically charged songs of universal brotherhood. Dev Anand was busy puffing up his hair. Dilip Kumar was loitering around with the Devdas baton, handed over to him by KL Saigal. Guru Dutt was lamenting the frailty of free India. Shammi Kapoor came, saw and broke into a song that represented the feelings of a Presley-smitten nation. “Ayyayya karoon main kya, soooku, soooku”!!! The song was for all those whose hearts had gone ‘Soooku Soooku’, in a new India full of contradictions. A rock star was born!

Shammi Kapoor never had a solid plan for stardom. He was not concerned about getting heavier at the hip. He was not sulking over his abdominal flab, that lovable One-pack. He showcased his double chin with gay abandon. He did not inhibit himself with formulaic expressions while giving a close shot. And he obviously loved his drink. Shammi Kapoor never acted for the camera and within its frames. The cinematographer was supposed to follow him and catch him deliver his stuff.

It is futile to discuss the life and career of Shammi Kapoor, because he treated both with scant care. And when he wanted to direct a movie, he waged war with the authority there: the Censor Board. Apparently, his idea of ‘Manoranjan’ was not theirs.

They say Shammi Kapoor was one of the first celebrities to take to internet. Naturally. He had always wanted to make reality a virtual entity. He had also reportedly played a role in setting up internet organisations such as Ethical Hackers Association. Naturally. He wanted to hack commandments and hack them in an ethical fashion.

Shammi Kapoor, in almost all his films, successfully whisked his viewers away from the stark realities surrounding them. He took them to a world where only Elvis Presley, Jerry Lewis and Julie Andrews had gone before.

To the historian, Shammi Kapoor is now a dead man. It would however be a dishonorable exercise to recall and report the way he logged out. The doctor’s logbook says he was “aged 79” and that he had “renal failure”. Well, we, Shammi Kapoor fans, just don’t want to cram the white board with all those creepy, mortuary stuff. Here we are, dusting the screen. Here we are, scribbling his name with a pink chalk.

Shammi Kapoor may have died, but none of us will observe “five minutes of silence” for this marvelous man. So, here we are, throwing our jackets to the wind, pointing to the skies and yelling “Yaaaaahoooooo…”!

Source: Murali Gopy/Entertainment Editor/MSN India/India Syndicate