There was Raj Kapoor, with the gentle smile and the jee at the end of each line, the right hand pointed to the heavens, the Charlie-Chaplin gait. There was Dilip Kumar, tragically intense. There was the suave Dev Anand, with the head cocked to the side, the fluttering eye-lids and the machine-gun dialog delivery. Together they defined the space of the Hindi film hero—-decent, clean-cut and more than a bit stiff-necked.

And then he came, like an avalanche, rolling down the slopes. Stretching his hands out, throwing his head back, rolling his eyes, mimicking the haughty heroine as she walks by ignoring his advances, stumbling forward, hip-shaking, stumbling, shaking and pouting. This was acting as had been never seen before—- physical, raw and very very in-your-face.

Shamsher Raj “Shammi” Kapoor.

Shammi Kapoor revolutionized the concept of the Bollywood hero. Like Elvis whose hyper-sexual pelvic thrusts shocked and aroused a generation of Americans, Shammi brought a sensuality to his roles, a palpable carnality that was beyond anything that conservative Hindi audiences had been used to. He was sexy, he was funny, he was a rockstar and he didn’t like to take no for an answer.

If given a “I couldn’t care less for you” haughty head-shake from the object of his affections, not for him to sink away into the shadows singing a sad song. He would jump right into her path, push his face close, make unabashed eye-contact and then start woo-ing with her with a Mohammed Rafi song on lips. And which woman, with half a heart, could ever resist that?

He was Junglee. He was a Janwaar. He was a Battameez. And he never apologized for it.

When he sat amidst multi-colored phones in “Tumse Accha Kaun Hai” and crooned Kissssss……….Kisssss…….Kiss Ko Pyar Karoon? Kaise Pyar Karoon? Yeh bhi hai, woh bhi hai…hai hai….the audience was scandalized. They went weak in the knees. They went red in the cheeks. How can anyone be so…oooh….wanton? But they still went to see his movies. Again and again.

Other stars might have had a more cerebral effect but no one hit the audience as close to the heart as Shammi-ji did.

A legend on screen, and a down-to-earth, funny, dignified, tech-savvy man off it, the man was truly a star. A star in the old-school way, the type that did not need PR-stunts, media manipulation and talk-show appearances to create their aura. Their work spoke for them and they spoke loud, loud enough to transcend generations.

The greatest thing about being an artist, and a superstar artist at that, is you never truly die. You live on through your creations. Even more importantly, you live on through your influences. See a Govinda facial contortion and you will see Shammi Kapoor there. Watch Shahrukh Khan cartwheeling across in Deewana and you will find him there again. Watch Aamir Khan singing “Khambe Jaisi Khadi Hai” and well…there he is once again.

Shamsher Raj “Shammi” Kapoor.

You will never be missed sir. Because you have not left.

37 thoughts on “Yahoo

  1. First.
    He will be missed

  2. Amen to the last sentence. The one. The original. The only. RIP.

  3. very well written.RIP Shammi Kapoor

  4. Speaking of Shammi Kapoor’s influence and Aamir Khan, the one that most unmistakably shows a Shammi influence is “dil karta hai tere paas aaoon” from AAA, a close second being “ye lo jee sanam ham aa gaye” from the same movie.

  5. Shammi was a huge influence on R.D Burman. In an interview R.D said that when Shammi heard his first song for Teesri Manzil he hated it. R.D felt bad but when he went back home & listened to it he realized how correct Shammi was. R.D then after a week or so came up with ‘O haseena zulfonwali’ & when Shammi heard it he had tears in his eyes and hugged R.D. he told R.D just wait & watch what I do with this song on screen. For R.D that was one of the most precious moments of his life. In fact R.D had said whenever he wanted to compose a lively song he would imagine Shammi singing it & automatically the music would flow.

  6. arnab,i laud you for such a well written piece.
    RIP hero.

  7. I remember as a kid , I had always seen Shammi Kapoor in his old self (including the famous Pan Parag “Hum itana chahate hai ki aap baraatiyon ka swaagat paan paraag se kijiye ” ) , and to think that the same actor who played many amazing roles (and carried a strong personality) as an old bearded man, was actually such a great hero was indeed something which will be his legacy.

    Not to forget, Shammi Kapoor was one of the big supporters of internet in India !

    I like your last line!

  8. Shammi Kapoor’s death is a loss – but he will never ever go away. Long after flavour of the month songs have been forgotten, we will still be watching O Haseena Zulfowali ! Shammi’s chaaracters may have been in-your-face but the heroine was never forced but always wooed!! and of course Shammi’s life was all about the wooing and the heroine was always centre-stage!
    Shammi made everything he did feel so natural that his skills at dancing or comedy were never appreciated!
    And he was honest as always – in one of the mags (Stardust?) stars answer question pages – Shammi gave his hobby as fornication!!

  9. Very nice post, Arnab.

    Nasir Hussain said in an interview that Shammi used to not even use a dance director or choreographer for most of his songs.. He used to do things spontaneously once the music came on. Well, am not surprised!

  10. very well written, Arnab, a fitting tribute to one of the gurus of Indian cinema..!

  11. Shammi was first superstar of india.His acting was natural and had amazing screen presence.As a kid i watched teesri manzil and i loved it.

  12. It was difficult not liking Shammi Kapoor. When has a vivacious, good-looking, clown of a charmer like him ever gone unloved and unadmired?

    But it is ironic how death suddenly spurs us into showing our love for one who truly deserved to have been showered with it in his lifetime. Wouldn’t he have felt great if he knew how many people who were born after he was well past his prime so adored him? I feel guilty for not ever having written him a fan-mail or tweeting my appreciation or liking his pages on FB. Stars thrive on the love of their fans, they say.

    Making the most of now; off to write a bunch of fan-mail to my ageing childhood idols.

  13. Crazy and unequalled. Absolutely Brilliant.

  14. A heartfelt tribute that I was looking for…

    One of the best cherished Shammi moment of my childhood is when he steps out of the boat and falls after the song in Kashmir Ki Kali…


  15. Ya my favorite SuperStar of all time, even ahead of Big-B, just for his exuberance energy dance and more than anything else, the all time great memories his movies gave to Indian Cinema. The influence he had is whenever the DD aired a movie of Shammi, invariably everyone used to hum and sing his songs in their own broken lyrics in remotest of places for the next 3-4 weeks, and when the song aye gulbadan was aired, my English teacher used to say, my daughter was screaming, what happened to this fellow? why is he not shaking his head? why is he so different? this were her anecdotes everytime the song was played on Chitrahaar for about 6-9 times in the early to late 80s.

    Am also moved by your gesture to write a blog on this true legend, who some how like most of my favorites do not always get their due…
    RIP Shammi Saab.. and thank you for inducting Md. Rafi to me & its because of your dances and numbers that I seriously got into hindi cinema music..

  16. Sumatra, there’s nothing called RIP Shammi Kapoor. He never knew was peace was like. Or even what rest was like. I mean, that would be very nonShammiish, isn’t it?

    Great take, GB. My rather pedestrian version is at

  17. That’s a delicious picture of Shammi you’ve put up here! In some of his later films he got a bit too jowly and paunchy for my liking.

  18. Shammi was a pioneer in many ways. He was the first Indian to yahoo. He also set new standards in baratiyon ka swagat which will long outlive him.

  19. that was a lovely post Great Bong. Sensitive and worthy tribute to a great artiste.

  20. Found it interesting to read a BBC article where Shammi Kapoor confessed his lack of dancing ability and that he even took dancing lessons but failed so he made up for it through expressions and body language! And how!!!

  21. A trendsetter who was a legend in his own right ….. an inspiration to anyone who had the guts to challenge steroetypes

  22. So, after so many years, Shammi, Rafi and Shankar-Jaikishan are together once again, creating magical music together!!

  23. GB,

    As I sat reading your piece, I wished it too wouldn’t end. A wonderful tribute to one of the greatest.

  24. Oh, forgot to compliment you on the subtlety of the title. I loved the amazing effect created due to the missing exclamation mark.

  25. Shammi Kapoor was way ahead of his times. He directed only one movie, which flopped, but was brilliant in everything: acting, dialogues, music, and masala.

    This movie was Manoranjan!

    I recommend it to all the Shammi Kapoor fans.

  26. Nice.. Tho wld like to hear about anna and gang…

  27. No better words can describe the legend.

  28. Yes, Shammi Kapoor was different than the rest.

    Remember the Pan Parag advt? Where he asks Ashok Kumar with a sadistic grin, magar hum aapse ek baat kahna to bhool hee gaye…..

  29. I wonder if even GOD himself would be able to stay away from charm and persona of Shammiji, now that he is up there in heaven. The very fact that people of our generation find some kind of connection with him tells what a true legend he was. RIP.

  30. Awaiting ur views on the Anna Movement….

  31. Great post dear. Shammi Kapoor changed the way Indian movies were made and would always be remembered for his unique style. He has a place firmly secure in the history of Bollywood cinema.

  32. Time for a blog on the great England test series. I had almost forgotten those memories of getting hammered everytime India toured in 80s and early 90s.

  33. Absolute brilliant post. Nice written. thanks for sharing…..

  34. Splendid article on Legend never dies.

  35. he wore the most beautiful clothes-silk jackets,mufflers cravats.even when he was dressed as a woman he looked cute

  36. Fantastic Tribute Arnab. I was in Himachal at the time, and rained in, and watching his movies on the local cable channel in the hotel, not knowing he has passed away, And when i got to know, i realised exactly what you said… such legends dont leave.

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