Last year when we placed an order for the film Bhakt Dhruv (1947), we were amused to see the name Shashi Kapoor in the cast list of this mythological film. We checked online and found this title listed with films like Sharmilee (1971) and Deewaar (1975) in the same filmography on various sites like IMDB. However when we received the film’s VCD, the little boy on the cover looked nothing like the youngest son of actor Prithviraj Kapoor we had seen in films like Aag (1948) and Awaara (1951). Curious, we started watching the film and soon realized that this indeed was a different child actor. He won us over with his demure and subtle performance. In quick succession we happened to watch Shaheed (1948) where he played young Dilip Kumar and Samadhi (1950) where he played the youngest brother of actors Shyam & Ashok Kumar.

Our curiosity about this actor was increasing; every time we saw the song “Prabhu Apni Jhalak Dikhao” we would wonder if we will ever know about this boy. After searching for long we came across his profile on Cineplot where he was identified as Shashi Kapoor (Senior) and seemed to have his accurate filmography. Fortunately this June, Shashi Kapoor ji came forward to acknowledge Cineplot for listing his filmography correctly when someone brought the site to his notice. To our joy he agreed to communicate with us and share his journey. This post is an essence of our email exchanges with him.

Kapoor Family in 1971 (left to right) : Fateh Chand Kapoor (father), two friends, Shashi Kapoor, Ravi Kapoor (brother), Kushalia Kapoor (mother), friend, Geeta Kapoor (sister-in-law), (in front) two nieces & nephew

The Journey Thus Far
Shashi ji was born to Kushalia and Fateh Chand Kapoor on 7th September, 1934 in the then Bombay. His full name is Shashi Chand Kapoor (शशिचंद कपूर). His father was a film producer who made four films with Laxmidas AnandSawaal (1943), Lady Doctor (1944), Krishna Leela (1946) and Faisla (1947). His elder brother Ravi Kapoor (Ravi Chand Kapoor) was a celebrated story & screenplay writer and the legendary singer, Mahendra Kapoor was his cousin. Currently well known brothers Siddharth Roy Kapur (CEO, UTV Motion Pictures), Kunaal Roy Kapur (Actor / Director) and Aditya Roy Kapur (Actor) are grandchildren of his maternal aunt.

His film career started in 1943 on the sets of Lady Doctor (1944) and continued till his last release Bhagwat Mahima (1955). After completing graduation in 1955, he gave up acting for his love for Mathematics and lure of teaching. He then completed M. Sc. (1957) and LL.B. (1963) from Bombay University. During this time, he worked as lecturer in Wilson College, Bombay (1958), State Bank of India (1958-61) and lecturer in Kirti College, Bombay (1961-63). He moved to Michigan, United States in 1963 and joined Michigan State University to undertake doctoral work in Mathematics. He worked as Teaching/Graduate Assistant in Michigan State University (1963-67) while completing his Ph.D. Mathematics (1967). He took US Citizenship in 1976. From 1967 to 1996, he worked as a faculty member in Western Michigan University (WMU) and retired as professor emeritus in January, 1997.

Today, Shashi ji is leading a peaceful retired life at his US residence. He says he is satisfied with the acting career he had, he has no regrets for leaving it for his first love, Mathematics. He has enjoyed every minute of the 37 years he spent in teaching the subject.

Film Career
In 1943, Fateh Chand ji’s film Lady Doctor (1944) was under production and Shashi ji would often visit the sets to see the shoot. One day they were filming a hotel scene when they fell short of people. Since Shashi ji was already on the set, he was readied to play a few seconds cameo and thus made his first screen appearance at the age of 9. Later the artist-supplier mentioned that Sohrab Modi was looking for a young boy to play a small part with Mehtab in his next film. After an interview with Sohrab ji, he got his first speaking role in Parakh (1944).

TITLE / LEADING ROLES – Bhakt Dhruv (1947), Bhakt Gopal Bhaiya (1948), Veer Babruvahan (1950), Murliwala (1951)

SMALL / MEDIUM ROLES – Meena (1944), Bachpan (1945), Tadbir (1945), Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946), Renuka (1947), Shaheed (1948), Ram Darshan (1950), Samadhi (1950), Mordhwaj (1952), Sanskar (1952), Daana Paani (1953)

CAMEO / GUEST ROLES – Lady Doctor (1944), Parakh (1944), Sati Ahilya (1949), Maha Pooja (1954), Parvati Vivah (1954), Bhagwat Mahima (1955)

His film career had now taken off; Producers and Artist-Suppliers started approaching him with roles. He and his parents would go through the details before accepting any part. For him acting in movies was a hobby and to keep up with different requirements for roles, he did basic training in fencing, horse riding, dancing, etc. In his decade long film career, Shashi ji worked in 21 films with some of the best talents in the industry then, on and off screen.

His most favorite directors were Shantikumar Dave (credited as Shanti Kumar) and Ramesh Saigal. Shashi ji remembers them very fondly as wonderful gentlemen and great people to work with. He worked with them in three films each – Bhakt Dhruv (1947), Bhakt Gopal Bhaiya (1948) & Maha Pooja (1954) were directed by Shanti Kumar and Renuka (1947), Shaheed (1948) & Samadhi (1950) were directed by Ramesh Saigal.

Shanti Bhai often told him that he should become a character actor like Chandramohan (Watal) (played his father in Shaheed (1948)), but that was not meant to be. By the time he turned 18, Shashi ji started moving away from films having chosen a different career path. After 1952, he did very few films like Maha Pooja (1954), Parvati Vivah (1954) and Bhagwat Mahima (1955) where he had small guest roles. He mainly participated in these films as a mark of respect to the producers and directors of his past films. It took a while for the word to spread that he had given up acting and offers continued to come even after he left for US.

Legend of Bhakt Dhruv (as we have read and understood)
Bal-Bhakt Dhruv was just 5 years old when he set out in search of Lord Vishnu. Once when little Dhruv tried to sit on his father’s lap his step-mother pushed him aside. Dhruv told his mother about what had happened. She told him that Lord Vishnu is the father of entire mankind and if he prayed hard to him, he will surely let him sit on his lap and shower him with love. Dhruv meditated and underwent severe penance. He forced Lord Vishnu to appear in his divine form with his devotion and dedication. Lord Vishnu not only let Dhruv sit on his lap and showered him with love; he also gave him a permanent/fixed place in the sky as the Pole Star (Dhruv Tara).

Being Bhakt Dhruv
Just like Satyajeet Puri is Bhakt Prahlad, Vishnupant Pagnis is Sant Tukaram, Arun Govil is Shri Ram to us; similarly Shashi ji is our Bhakt Dhruv. Whenever there is a mention of this bal-bhakt, we can only see him singing “Prabhu Apni Jhalak Dikhao” to Lord Vishnu. Bhakt Dhruv (1947) is a Prakash Pictures production; produced by brothers Vijay Bhatt & Shankar Bhatt (of Ram Rajya (1943) fame), directed by Shanti Kumar, music by Shankar Rao Vyas and lyrics by Pt. Indra & Pt. Moti.

Shashi ji says this was a fun project as shoots felt like play time. The offer came from Prakash Pictures and after a few interviews he was chosen for his first leading role. He did not feel much difference between this mythological role or otherwise and got used to the costumes very quickly. Shanti Bhai and his assistants would make the cast aware of the daily activity schedule; while much was routine, they were very careful in scenes that would be tedious like – being submerged in water up to the nose, sliding along pulleys and wires from one end to the other or the scene involving live snakes including the one around his neck. The other cast members like Jeevan, Mridula, Shanta Rin, Leela Mishra and Laxman (who played his brother Uttam) were a great company, like family on the sets.

One of the most memorable (our favourite) sequences of the film is where actor Shri Bhagwan ji appears as Bhagwan Vishnu in front of Dhruv as he sings “Prabhu Apni Jhalak Dikhao” (sung by Mohantara Talpade). It is interesting to know that this sequence had no computer generated shenanigans; everything was shot in real time using lighting angles, shielding the actor with cut-outs, etc. It took time but the end result was visually very effective. During our initial interaction we realised that Shashi ji had not seen any of his own films in decades, so we shared a youtube link of this song. On being asked how it felt, he said – “How did it feel? Strange, like who is that kid?

Shashi ji shared some interesting trivia. In Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946) he played Pandurang Kotnis, younger brother of the famous Dr Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis (Dr. DS Kotnis) and a few years later acted in his wife Kamla Kotnis‘ production Sati Ahilya (1949) in a cameo as Shri Ram. He still finds it amusing that he got an opportunity to work with a man he once played onscreen. Kamla ji used to do his makeup herself. He says lead and character actors were just phenomenal then, in spite of success they remained simple human beings, never looking down on the small actors. Meeting icons like the man with a booming, sharp and crystal clear voice, Sohrab Modi, the perfectionist V. Shantaram, the ever so gentle Dadamoni (Ashok Kumar), the beautiful Kanan Devi, the very humble Dilip Kumar, among others are part of his cherished memories.

About Ravi Kapoor
Ravi Chand Kapoor (credited as Ravi Kapoor) was a successful story and screenplay writer. This eldest son of Kushalia and Fateh Chand Kapoor was born on 31 December, 1926 in Amritsar. Since childhood he was always interested in reading and writing. Shashi ji recalls their routine as kids to read 16 comics everyday (!!!) which they rented from their local library. He completed his BA from the University of Bombay (Ismail Yousuf College, Jogeshwari) in languages including English, Persian and Arabic. He was married to Geeta, daughter of yesteryear character actress, Gulab. The couple was blessed with three children; none of them are connected with films.

After completing his education, Ravi ji started his career in movies. He began with editing, produced a few movies, tried his hand at direction and then moved on to his ultimate destiny as a story & screenplay writer. He has an impressive filmography to his credit with major hits like – Nagina (1986), Khoon Bhari Maang (1988), Hum (1991), Karan Arjun (1995), Kaho Na Pyar Hai (2000), among others. He had long associations with Harmesh Malhotra & Rakesh Roshan and contributed to many of their directorial ventures. On 13 August, 2008, Ravi ji bid adieu to the world. Shashi ji remembers his lovely brother as a stout and lifelong devotee of Lord Shiva, and a gentle mild mannered person full of love for family & friends. We are glad to know a man whose work we have enjoyed for years and still do when we revisit those films. May his soul rest in peace.

Shashi ji comes across as a sweet, polite and patient person. From his pictures it can be seen that he exudes a certain calmness and serenity. Someone who is at peace with what life had to offer and the choices he made to reach where he is now. Today we admire him even more. We are thankful Shashi ji agreed to traverse down the memory lane with us. Its been a pleasure to know him and a wish fulfilled. Today on his Birthday we wish him Good Health, Peace and Happiness.

Found a new poster/booklet scan for Bhakt Dhruv (1947) thanks to Priya Lakshmi. We just had to include it here.

– Maitri Manthan

* Shashi ji has shared many tidbits on his Profile and Filmography pages on Cineplot. Some clips featuring him can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

* We would like to thank Cineplot without whom interaction with Shashi Kapoor ji would not have been possible.

* The information provided in this blog is to the best of our knowledge, if any discrepancies are found please let us know. Thank you.


17 responses to “SHASHI KAPOOR

  1. MM ji,
    Simply superb. With this interview you have once for all created a point of reference to dispel any misgivings or misunderstandings between the 2 Shashi Kapoors. Thank you for the efforts you took to do this feature. Its a great priceless contribution to Hindi Film History, especially when there is a case of confusion.
    -Arunkumar Deshmukh

  2. dear maitri…….read each & every word carefully….soaked in all the information given….so many new things I learnt…….such a dignified personality unearthed ,thanx to ur untiring efforts and that of cineplot too……agree with ur profile study of him…..such a serene and calm face P.Hd in maths indeed…!…I knew abt ravi kapoor and sachin bhoumick’s contribution to many hit films but dint know that ravi kapoor was this person…….similarly knowing abt his maternal aunt’s grand children…….wonder why they dont mention such illutrious relative’s film connections….all 3 brothers are so famous now…..I read a lot of magazines but none give such info…..maitri & cineplot are such gems IMO…….thanx a million for whatever you’ll have been doing or going to do for film & music buffs like us… wishes always…….

  3. Maitri, lovely lovely 🙂 Thank you for sharing. I just saw Shashiji in Shaheed not too long ago, and it’s so nice to put a person together with the actor onscreen. Thank you to him as well for giving us such interesting details.

  4. Wow! Thank you so much for the great post Maitri Manthan Ji! It is great to see so much about a film personality who earlier seemed to have disappeared into oblivion. Cineplot had done a proper post and you have put a great effort with this post. Very happy to know that Shashi Ji is still happy and very well in shape:) His films and contribution to them is indeed great. He has achieved a lot both in films as well as education, it is very appreciable. Excellent post and very good coverage with rare pictures. Hope you would continue your kind and earnest service.

  5. Maitri ji,

    Thank you so much for clearing this confusion…I got the movie and when saw the movie Bhakt Dhruv, I was also really confused whether he is the same Shashi or is a different Shashi Kapoor…
    Thanks once again to you and Cineplot for bringing up the actual fact to our notice..Hats off to you both.

    Best Regards,

    Nikhil Iyer.

  6. wow,i didn’t know that there were 2 Shashi Kapoors. I’m proud of this one;he began so young with acting and is first/second generation of Indian actors.Hats off for this great actor and his later career/job.

  7. Probably I am the oldest friend of Shashi – a school classmate- from 4th Primary class when we were 10/11 years old till 1951 , our final year in school. In the later years of school we two used to compete for the fourth and fifth ranks in the class. The first three were unshakable. I used to admire Shashi not only for his height and good looks but also for his intellect and ability to excel in studies in spite of long and frequent absences from school for acting in films.

    We became closer friends after we moved out of school. After M.Sc. in Maths from Wilson College he had taken on a job in a bank. But got tired of working long hours and the boredom of the job. At this point, he seriously considered returning to acting career. Fortunately he got the opportunity to pursue his first love – Mathematics – in USA and then never looked back. I went away to UK for studies and we lost contact for many years. I moved from Bombay to Chennai in 1967

    About fifteen years ago we were able to locate each other and re-establish contact. I managed to visit him in USA and spend a day reminiscing about the school days. Letters and e-mails were exchanged but very infrequently. At this late stage in life, when it is highly unlikely that we will be able to travel and meet, we have again started exchanging e-mails.

    Raj Gupta, Chennai, India

  8. My father, a retired maths professor of IIT Bombay, had been telling me for years that his M.Sc. classmate was the ‘Senior’ Shahi Kapoor! So finally today we decided to dig up info about Shahichand Fatehchand Kapoor… And there he is!! Thanks a ton for the information… I would be glad if there is a way of contacting him…

  9. Some of you may recall the famous words by Charles Dickens (Bleak House?): Nothing Lasts Forever!

    I would like to share with the readers of this blog the following information re my health.

    I have a form of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) that has severely affected my mobility & speech. My hands & fingers are weak (& getting weaker). I can’t write, hold a spoon/fork/knife/toothbrush. Edema in both legs & venous–valve–insufficiency requires the use of Lasix and compression bandages (below the knees). I also have Spinal stenosis, ptosis of the right eyelid, asthma, and all–year–24/7–allergies.

    • There is nothing that anyone can do to “help”. •
    • Most issues will never get “better” or “improve”. •
    • Your kind thoughts are sufficient & really most welcome. •
    • Many THANKS for your past kindness and compassion.
    • My mind is at peace and my body is comfortable so far. •
    • By the grace of God, I have had the most wonderful life. •

    S. F. Kapoor

  10. Thanks for details about Shashi & Ravi Kapoor .Ravi Kapoor had directed Kala Chor -56,Mirza Sahiban -57 ,Chalta Purza -58 & Dekha Jayega -60, before becoming a writer .

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