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Shammi Kapoor Birth Anniversary: Lesser known facts about ‘Elvis Presley of Bollywood’

Actor Shammi Kapoor (1931-2011) made his way to the hearts of many with his high-octane energy, uncountable expressions and dance moves that are still etched in the memory of Bollywood lovers in India and abroad.

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Shammi Kapoor Birth Anniversary: Actor Shammi Kapoor is remembered for his charisma and acting prowess, and for being ahead of his time. On his 86th birth anniversary, today, here’s looking at some interesting facts from his life.

Actor Shammi Kapoor (1931-2011) made his way to the hearts of many with his high-octane energy, uncountable expressions and dance moves that are still etched in the memory of Bollywood lovers in India and abroad.

The actor was said to be ahead of his time, and his portrayal of a romantic hero is still the inspiration of many upcoming actors. Mention his name and one is sure to start humming Yahoo! Chahe Mujhe Koi Junglee Kahen (Junglee; 1961). Soon his powerful scenes from films such as Teesri Manzil (1966), Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), An Evening In Paris (1967), Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), and many others will start replaying in your mind’s screen.

Today, October 21, marks the 90th birth anniversary of Shammi Kapoor, who was born as Shamsher Raj Kapoor, second of three sons born to the illustrious actor-director Prithviraj Kapoor and wife Ramsarni Kapoor. Raj Kapoor was the eldest son and Shashi Kapoor was the youngest.

Shammi Kapoor with brothers Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor and father Prithviraj Kapoor.

Did you know Shammi Kapoor was internet savvy? Reportedly, the actor started using the internet even before he came to India. In fact, he was also the founder of several internet organisations.

“I discovered the internet before you got the internet in India. You got in 1995… VSNL. I took it up as a hobby. I am on Apple and they gave us a website called eWorld. The British telecom gave us a line through VSNL, even though VSNL was not available at that time (1994). That was an eye-opener…something completely new. And by the time the internet came to India, we were already first-marchers… already sab kuch dekh liya tha (I had seen everything, already),” he was quoted as saying.

Shammi Kapoor Birth Anniversary: Interesting facts about the Elvis Presley of India

  • Shammi Kapoor spent his early years of childhood in Calcutta (Kolkata) and Peshawar, in Kapoor Haveli.
  • The actor started his journey in showbiz as a junior artist, with his father’s company Prithvi Theatre in 1948, and earned Rs 50 as a monthly salary.
  • He started his film career in 1953, and had quite a few low-budget releases in the year. Jeewan Jyoti was the first one to release among them. He never got a launch like any star kid, and had to struggle hard to find his foothold in the industry.
  • Reportedly, the actor fell in love with belly dancer and Egyptian actor Nadia Gamal. They met while on a vacation in Sri Lanka, but later the two broke up. He also proposed popular actor Mumtaz to marry him, but the latter declined the proposal. In an interview, Mumtaz said, “I was only 18 years old when he told me that he wanted to settle down with me. I was getting several film offers and I didn’t want to marry so early in my life. It was a very straightforward thing. He proposed and I politely said ‘No’. That was it. I respected him a lot…”
  • The actor used to describe himself as ‘shaukeen’, and the reason was his fondness for a good life. In fact, he started smoking when he was in class six; and preferred a specific brand.
  • On 24 August 1955, he married actor Geeta Bali, in a temple, after just four months of meeting each other. Interestingly, Shammi Kapoor telephoned his parents to inform them about his marriage, after the temple ceremony. And, Hari Walia — who produced Coffee House (1957), their first film together — was witness to their marriage.
  • When Shammi Kapoor was working in the film Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), he decided to experiment with his image of a suave actor. He told his wife (Geeta Bali), “If this makeover fails, I will become a tea plantation manager in Assam.” But luckily for him the makeover worked, and pretty well.
  • Who doesn’t love the song Yahoo… from the film Junglee. But, not many know that his knees were bruised badly while shooting the sequence where he’s seen coming down the snow-covered hill.
  • During the premiere of the film Junglee, actor Rajendra Kumar after watching the film told Shammi Kapoor that it was an, “Okay film. I think it will run for six weeks.” But the film turned out to be a huge hit, and when the latter met Kapoor at the film’s jubilee celebration, he commented: “I was only joking.”
  • His last film was director Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar (2011). Reportedly, actor Ranbir Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor’s grand-nephew, convinced his uncle to work in this movie.
  • After playing the role of a romantic hero in Andaz (1971), the actor was seen playing various avatars in films such as Hero (1983), Vidhaata (1982), Zameer (1972), Chamatkar (1992), Hukumat (1987), Prem Granth (1996) etc.
  • Shammi Kapoor was open to experimentation. After starring opposite Saira Banu, in her debut film Junglee, and romancing her again in Bluff Master (1963), he played her father almost a decade later in the film Zameer.
  • After Geeta Bali succumbed to small pox in 1965, Shammi Kapoor went into depression. They have two children — Aditya Raj Kapoor and Kanchan. In 1969, he married actor Neila Devi Gohil, who belonged to the royal family of Bhavnagar, Gujarat. And the condition he lay was that she will never bear a child and would be a doting mother to Aditya and Kanchan.
  • While shooting for Shakti Samant’s An Evening in Paris, Shammi Kapoor gave the famous helicopter shot and refused to use a body double for the same, even after Samant insisted. Both gave hits like Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), An Evening in Paris (1967), and Pagla Kahin Ka (1970).
  • He was a good swimmer but broke two ribs during a diving shot for the film Badtameez (1966).

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