Zeenat Aman On Shashi Kapoor

“Oh my God! Is Shashiji really gone? I did some of my most enjoyable and unforgettable films with him. But before that, I remember when I was studying at the St Joseph’s Convent. Shashiji came with his wife to perform a play in our school. All of us schoolgirls were in a swoon. He was devastatingly handsome. Later he lived down the same road as me.And we’d bump into one another . I think the first film that we worked on together was Roti Kapada Aur Makaan . It was a very important film for me.And Shashiji was a terrific co-star in what was a very complex role for me with shades of grey. The film was a big hit. But the one that we had most fun with was Chori Mera Kaam a few years later. It was a comedy and we improvised like crazy almost every scene was filled wuth dialogues that we thought up on the spot. Shashiji was a veteran of comic timing .

I was new to comedy. But because he was so supportive I could pull it off . That was what defined Shashiji’s attitude: a sense of ongoing generosity towards his costars. After Chori Mera Kaam we did what was perhaps our most talked-about film, I am talking about Raj Kapoor’s Satyam Shivum Sunderam. My God! What an uproar that film created. Shooting the film was not easy. I remember Raj Saab kept calling Shashiji a ‘taxi’.He meant the number of films that Shashiji was doing at that time. Rajji very firmly told Shashiji he didn’t want the ‘taxi’. He wanted Shashiji’s full attention.Both of us had to be fully focused on this one film. Every gesture every nuance every movement of Shashiji and I were done by Raaj Saab. He would tell us where to stand, how to walk, how to sit ….everything.We were mere puppets.The approach to our roles in Satyam Shivum Sunderam was quite the opposite to what we did in Chori Mere Kaam. I remember Shashiji was shy about taking off his shirt under the waterfall in Satyam Shivum Sunderam when were shooting the song Yashomati maiya. He didn’t think he had the physique to pull it off. I did several other films with Shashiji like Deewangee and Heeralal Pannalal. It was always fun to shoot with him. He was gracious and warm, courteous and gentlemanly. I last met him at the Prithvi Theatres when he was honoured for receiving the Dada Phalke award. Though he was unwell I could see the look of warm recognition in his eyes. He held my hand warmly and I knew he remembered all the wonderful times we had shared while shooting.”

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