“I Called Him Shammi Chacha,”Asha Parekh Recalls Her First & Most Favourite Co-Star on His Birth Anniversary

In her  hey-hey-ho-ho days Asha  Parekh worked with all the  top  actors  of  the era.

“But Shammi Kapoor  was  my favourite. He  was  everybody’s  favourite. When he came  into  a  project  he brought with himself  a universe  of  creativity and not just as  an actor. ShammiChacha, that’s what I called him from Day 1, was not only an actor, he was also a terrific filmmaker  and musician. Like  his  elder brother Raj Kapoor Saab, Shammi Chacha  had a very keen ear for music. A  lot  of  the music we heard in his films were Shammi Chacha’s tunes,” says  Ashaji who started  her  career  as  leading lady  with Shammi Kapoor  in Dil  Deke Dekho  in 1959.

Apparently  Shammi wanted Waheeda Rehman to co-star with him in  Dil Dekhe dekho.

“I have  no idea  about this.Waheeda  is  a very close friend. But we’ve never discussed  this.We don’t talk  cinema when we  meet. Dil Deke Dekho was  special. It was  my first  film as a leading lady. I had earlier done films as a child. It was also the  film that gave Shammi Chacha his  new image as  the Rebel Star, the Indian Elvis Presley. People  just went crazy over him. They also  liked our  pairing.We  then went  on to do Teesri Manzil which  was  one of  the biggest hits of  both Shammi Chacha and my career,” recalls Ashaji.

Teesri Manzil was  to star Dev Anand  and  not Shammi  Kapoor.  But producer Nasir Hussain had a tiff with Dev Saab.

Recalls Asha, “I think Shammi  Chacha  wanted Shankar-Jaikishan to do the music. Nasir Saab was keen to give R D Burman a  chance. Shammi Chacha heard RD’s  songs and  readily  agreed.Our songs  in Teesri Manzil like O mere sona re, O haseena zulfon wali  and Aaja aajamain hoon pyar tera are hummed to this day. The  solo Tumne mujhe dekha hoke meherbaan by Rafi Saab was  very special. It was filmed  after  shooting was stopped when Shammi Chacha’s  wife Geeta  Bali suddenly passed  away. We resumed with this subdued song. I remember we were all  moist-eyed while shooting this song.”

Ashaji recalls  a third film with her Shammi Chacha very  fondly. “Pagla  Kahin Ka directed  by Shakti Samanta is a favourite  of mine. Shammi Chacha played a  man who has  a nervous breakdown after his girlfriend ditches him. I played the doctor who  heals him. We had  an amazing song in the  film Tum mujhe yun  bhula  na paoge . Indeed, it’s impossible to  forget what Shammi Chacha meant to  Hindi cinema. He had his own style, his own rhythm in the songs that he danced  to on screen and  in the way he led his life.”

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