By Dr. Sudhir Bhushan
An Omnibus Ode to Shammi Kapoor : Showcasing his histrionic mettle through the musical score in his movies
(REMEMBERING SHAMMI SAHAB ON HIS FIRST ABSENTIA ANNIVERSARY)
All highlighted key-words are hyperlinked to appropriate ‘You Tube’ web-pages for instant transport to an imaginative, nostalgic ‘re-viewing’ in your minds ~ to add to the relish of this lyrical tribute! Just click the highlighted (blue) song-words to watch the songs instantly on ‘You Tube’.
Shammi Kapoor, the original shehanshah of shararat-e-shabnami style of romantic acting from yesteryear Bollywood is no more! Or is he? Not so!
The very versatile singing, dancing, emoting, prankster superstar will live forever in the hearts of millions of fans & admirers he enthralled with his soulful, chutzpa, no-holds-barred, bindaas acting skills over a 50 plus years career span!
Hailed as one of the finest actors Hindi cinema has ever produced, he was a scion of the first family of Bollywood: the Kapoors (illustrious father Prithviraj, iconic-showman-elder-sib Raj Kapoor and ever-so-popular-younger-sib Shashi Kapoor).
Debuting with the 1953 flick ”Jeevan Jyoti”, the jyoti (light) of his nascent Bollywood career flickered weakly until he got his first big break with “Tumsa nahin dekha“ in 1957, coming in as a replacement for an unavailable Dev Anand who was the original choice to play the lead. Dev Anand’s loss proved to be Shammi Kapoor’s gain as the audience loved his youthful look & very individual swaggering style in this hugely popular romantic musical, which, incidentally, was debutante director Nasir Hussain’s launchpad for heroine Ameeta but, ironically, did wonders for Shammi’s career instead.
Promenading the streets of Shillong in “Tumsa nahin dekha“, Shammi sahab began his long & successful journey as a romantic lead, warbling & wondering aloud:
“Jawaniyan yeh mast, mast bin piye
Jalaati chal rahin hain raah me diye
Na jane inme kiske waste hoon main
Na jane inme kaun hai mere liye“,
through the lead character played by him.
Until he discovered his ladylove in Ameeta’s character, celebrating the union with that dashingly romantic hit, a vintage O.P. Nayyar/Majrooh Sultanpuri fare:
“Yun to hamne laakh hasin dekhe hain,
Tumsa nahin dekha,
Uf yeh nazar, uf yeh ada
Kaun na ab hoga fida!”
The Hindi movie audience, and not just Ameeta’s character, loved his light-hearted & breezy wooing ways, giving him a huge hurrah with a reciprocatory:
“Sar par topi laal,
Haath mein resham sa rumal.
Ho tera kya kehna“!
The young Shammi went on to respond, exhorting musically (all his innumerable future female fans, too, as it were):
“Chhupne waale saamne aa
Chhup chhup ke mera ji na jala
Suraj se kiran, badal se pawan
Kab talak chhupegi yeh to bata“
They came out in hordes & vowed to an enduring love affair with him, crooning along with Ameeta’s character:
“Dekho kasam se, dekho kasam se
Kehte hain tumse haan!
Tum bhi jaloge, haath maloge
Rooth ke hamse haan“
starting a whole new, refreshing game of ‘roothna/manana’ spunky romance in Hindi cinema.
His fans came to increasingly realise after this movie that they were indeed developing a “tumsa nahin dekha” crush on Shammi Kapoor!
Shammi particularly chose Mohd. Rafi, another legend-in-the-making those days, as his memorable playback voice and together they cast many a magical spell in the annals of Hindi cine music. He made a unique place for himself in the industry as he was the only dancing hero in Hindi films from the late fifties till early seventies when jumping jack Jeetu joined ranks with him. Saira Banu said in an interview, “At the time when Dilip sahab, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand ruled the industry, it was Shammi Kapoor who created a niche for himself with his unique dance moves. He used to say he didn’t know how to dance but he would just listen to the music, feel it and move instinctively. He was the only ‘dancing hero’ at that time.” He used to compose dancing steps by himself in the songs picturised on him and never needed a choreographer. This earned him the sobriquet, “Elvis Presley of India”.
In “Dil De Ke Dekho“, his next big hit (1959 release, also Nasir Hussain’s second movie & Asha Parekh’s debut as a lead) young, teeny bopper heartthrob Shammi metamorphosed into a flamboyant, Elvis Presley-esque playboy lover of feminine charms extending the invitation for a permanent abode in his ever ebullient heart with, you guessed it:
“Dil de ke dekho, dil de ke dekho,
Dil de ke dekho ji;
Dil lene waalon,
Dil dena seekho ji“.
Such a loving invite was hard to ignore as Asha Parekh (until then a child star, this movie’s release coinciding with her 17th birthday), not to speak of his frenetic femme fans, went on to form an enduring pair with him; Asha teaming up with him again in Teesri Manzil, Jawan Mohabbat & Pagla Kahin Ka.
The swelling ranks of his admiring fans were only too glad over the ensuing years they chose to “Dil De Ke Dekho” to an astonishing entertainer such as Shammi!
The romantic, musical, dancing, prankster & wild (there was no overtly ‘sexy‘ blueprint for a hero in those conservative times, else his oomph and attitude would have qualified him for the label) image of young Shammi rose to iconic heights with “Junglee” as he bamboozled his fans with the title song:
Chaahe koi mujhe junglee kahe
Kehne do ji kehta rahe”.
This final image boost firmly established his position as the numero uno bindaas badshah of romantic, musical genre in Bollywood with an acting style bordering oh-so-endearingly on impudence & gall. The movie, yet another debut platform for his leading lady (Saira Banu, in this case; earning a filmfare nomination as best actress, too), was a super duper diamond jubilee hit & boasted of hugely popular & variegated musical score ranging from:
Ai yai ya, karoon main kya suku suku
Kho gaya dil mera suku suku.“
To the soul captivating, iqraar-e-mohabbat number:
“Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par
Dil chaahta hai jo, kehne do
Mujhe tumse mohabbat ho gayi hai
Mujhe palkon ki chhaon me rehne do”
With Dil Tera Deewana (1962), he moved on further fostering his loverboy status, delivering memorable hits along with an alluring Mala Sinha including the USP title track:
“Dil tera deewana hai sanam,
Jaante hain hum, kuch na kahoge tum,
Mohabbat ki kasam, mohabbat ki kasam“,
the sweet-n sugary:
“Mujhe kitna pyaar hai tumse,
Apne hi dil se poochho tum,
Jise dil diya hai woh tum ho,
Meri zindagi tumhari hai!”
and that lovely cupid-esque crooner:
“Nazar bacha ke chale gaye woh
Warna ghayal kar deta
Dil se dil takra jaata to
Dil me agni bhar deta!”
Professor, also a 1962 release, was a maturing point of sorts for Shammi where he, teaming up with Kalpana, mavellously managed to tame the expression of ‘separation melancholia’, considered the ultimate harbinger of perfection in the acting repertoire of a romantic lead player those days, on his dynamic emoticon of a face while delivering:
“Aawaz de ke hamen tum bulao,
Mohabbat mein itna na humko satao!“
And the oh-so-naughty-n-nice smoothie:
“Khuli palak mein jhootha gussa,
Band palak mein pyaar
Jeena bhi mushkil,
Marna bhi mushkil.“
Shammi had truly come of age by now.
He followed it up with “Chinatown” (also 1962) in a challenging double- role performance as a gangster and his look-alike, good hearted foil (his lost childhood brother, you guessed it right!) which was a semi hit and provided a template for Amitabh’s future superhit “Don” (interestingly the perennial moll of Hindi cinema those days, the hauntingly gorgeous sex-doll ‘Helen’featured in both the movies, delivering an enticing “Yamma yamma” with Shammi in the first instance).
The musical rendition of:
“Baar baar dekho, hazaar baar dekho
Ke dekhne ki chhez hai hamara dil (dil)ruba
Taali ho, taali ho!”
added further to his popularity & brought the fans to baar baar (repeat) dekhos (viewing) of his films.
His next big hit, Raajkumar(1964) saw Shammi traverse from:
the brash-n-burlesque with the title track,
” Jaane waalon zara hoshiyaar
Yahaan ke hum hain raajkumar”
to the smitten and smouldering in:
” Tumne pukara aur ham chale aaye
Dil hatheli par le aaye re“
“Tumne kisi ki jaan ko
Jaate huye dekha hai
Woh dekho mujhse rooth kar
Meri jaan ja rahi hai!”
while succumbing, through his submarine-style eves-dropping, to the captivating charms of a ravishing Sadhana crooning at her riverine dance party with friends:
“ Aa ja, ayi bahar dil hai
Bekarar oh mere raajkumar
Tere bin raha na jaye”
in some truly picturesque numbers from the great costume drama that this movie was!
And as Shammi, in turn, attempted so lovingly to be politically/philosophically/romantically correct with a screen- sizzling Sadhana in that very meaningful number (a close attention to great lyrics from Hasrat Jaipuri highly advised):
“Is rang badalti duniya mein
Insaan ki neeyat theek nahin
Nikla na karo tum saj dhaj kar
Imaan ki neeyat theek nahin”
watch that dynamic, emoticon face of his as he gives vent to his insecure, smitten heart’s doubts-n-fears with the lyrical expression in one of the most picturesque song sequences of those times:
” Kaandhe se hata lo sar apna
Yeh pyaar mohabbat rehne do
Kashti ko bacha lo maujon se
Toofan ki neeyat theek nahin“
“Main kaise khuda haafiz keh dun
Mujh ko to kisi ka yakeen nahin
Chhup jaao hamari aankhon mein
Bhagwaan ki neeyat theek nahin.”
Some truly immortal stuff there!!
” Kashmir ki kali“ (1964) paired Shammi with another favourite co-star of his, Sharmila Tagore doing her Hindi debut after having featured earlier in a spate of Sayajit Ray bangla films. The duo was an instant hit with the masses who lapped up the vintage chulbula musical score provided by O P Nayyar in
1) “Deewana hua baadal”,
2) ” Isharon isharon mein”,
3)” Hai duniya usiki, zamana usika”,
4) ” Meri jaan balle balle”,
5) “Subhan allah hai”,
6) “Taarif karon kya uski” &
7) ” Kisi na kisi se, kabhi na kabhi“.
Such a short (for want of space & time here) description of the long compendium of huge hits from this mast movie does little justice to a showcasing of Shammi’s handling of them with an effortless ease of the consummate craftsman of his art that he was, but should suffice for now. All these major hits of Shammi speak volumes for themselves. (Have a look, clicking the web-link tabs, for yourselves!)
In 1965,” Jaanwar” had him matching skills with talented beauty Rajshree. Shammi, coming into his trademark style yet again, provided his fans some wholesome delight with
”Laal chadi, maidan khadi”,
“Meri mohabbat jawaan rahegi”
“Tumse achchha kaun hai“
He followed it up in 1966 with yet another hit, “Badtammez”. Showcasing a character seeped in the very colors & ethos of the title of this Manmohan Desai potboiler, Shammi thrilled his fans with his USP rendition of the lovable, uncouth rogue delivering another huge hit:
‘’Badtameez kaho ya kaho jaanwar,
Mera dil tere dil pe fida ho gaya
Sambhalo koi, bachao koi….” on the trail of a screen blazing Sadhana.
The enfant terrible of Hindi cinema, however, also did demonstate his perfection of the art of taming the staunchest of femme fatale with a typically tenderhearted:
“Haseen ho tum khuda nahin ho,
Tumhara sajda nahin karenge,
Magar mohabbat se hukm doge
To hanste hanste yeh jaan bhi denge.”
In 1966, he got the chance to play lead in “Teesri Manzil”, yet another mega-hit with his favorite producer Nasir Hussain & co-star Asha Parikh. His character in the movie, the singing-dancing superstar ‘Rocky’, was specially created at the request of maverick director Vijay Anand. Initially meant to feature Dev Anand, who was yet again unavailable to Nasir due to date problems, the role went to Shammi and was re-tailored & fine tuned keeping in mind his now popular image.Once again Dev Anand’s bane proved to be Shammi’s boon (the movie was a major draw at the box office). And so touched was Shammi that he began his role with a thanks-giving number:
“Tumne mujhe dekha,
Ho kar bekarar!
Ruk gayi, yeh zameen,
Tham gaya aasmaan!” ,
meant for not just his ladylove Asha Parikh but all his numerous fans over the years, as it were.
This phenomenally hit musical-romantic-murder-mystery thriller was also the launchpad for supremely talented, newcomer in B-town “R.D.Burman”, who created a truly memorable musical score along with maverick lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri. Songs like:
“O haseena zulfon wali,
Dhoondti hain kafir aankhen,
”Aaja aaja main hoon pyaar tera,
Allah alla, inkaar tera!”
belonged to a genre that Hindi movie lovers were hitherto unaware of.
So enamoured they got, along with Asha Parikh’s character in the movie that they exulted back musically:
“O mere sona re, sona re, sona re,
De doongi jaan, juda mat hona re.’’
Not one to be ever left behind in his reciprocation of love expressions to all his beloved, Shammi responded with the eminently hummable :
“Deewana mujhsa nahin,
Is ambar ke neeche,
Aage hai katil mera,
Aur main peechhe peechhe.”
His next major hit, the 1967 release by Shakti Samanta, “An Evening In Paris” created sensation in the cine world with Shammi getting the chance to put on display his polished savoir faire in Paris, the romance capital of the world. Chasing the charms of lady love Sharmila Tagore ( bikini-clad and water-skiing in a trendsetting first in hindi cinema)– a chopper dangling Shammi set sea waters on fire with his
“Aasmaan se aaya farishta,
Pyaar ka safar sikhlaane,
Dil mein hai tasweer yaar ki,
Laaya hoon who dikhlaane”
Shakti Samanta (as director) used Shammi’s polished savoir faire in treating his audience to an exposition of the famed night life of Paris making him the tool for doling out this first-ever largesse to hindi movie buffs with:
“Aji aisa mauka phir kahaan milega,
Hamare jaisa dil kahaan milega ,
Aao tumko dikhlaata hoon,
Paris ki ek rangeen shaam,
Dekho, dekho, dekho, dekho dekho,
An evening in Paris!”.
Shammi engaged cine lovers with this total paisa-wasool song as Shakti Samanta put on the first ever bollywood displays of Eiffel Tower, Ritz & Moulin Rouge in the backdrop.
With Brahmchaari (in 1968), an aging Shammi sought an image change-over playing a philanthropic caretaker of orphan kids while still dabbling as a part time debonair playboy devoted to rescuing damsels in distress – Rajshree & Mumtaz in this case. From cheering & cherishing his sprightful bunch of adopted orphan kids with:
“Chakke pe chakka,
chakke pe gaadi,
gaadi pe nikli,
“Main gaaon tum so jaao,
sukh sapno mein kho jaao”
to serenading & tango-n-twisting with socialite butterflies like the mesmerizing Mumtaz with:
“Aaj kal tere mere pyaar ke charche har zubaan par,
sab ko maalum hai aur sab ko khabar ho gayi”
Shammi displayed his charms as a sensitive, caring bachelor (brahmachaari) ward who could take up any challenge to make a living to run his family of cherubs, which included debutante junior Mehmood in a really cool role. Until he was called upon to take up the ultimate challenge of his life of having to play a Professor Higgins to a demure damsel in distress from countryside (Rajshree) seeking to woo back her childhood fiancee Pran, now established in Bombay as a philandering playboy. But as he succeeds in bringing about the requisite momentous transformation in his Eliza Doolittle (Rajshree), who now begins to curry favour with Pran, a twist in the tale reveals to Rajshree that she has fallen for her saviour Shammi. Wishing to pay back now-smitten but earlier uncaring Pran in the same coin, she instead finds herself in his clutches as he manoueuvres to acquire her as a trophy lover & wife. Shammi’s heart rending sayonara in
“Dil ke jharokhe mein tujhko bithakar,
yaadon ko teri mein dulhan bana kar,
rakhunga mein dil ke paas,
mat ho meri jaan udaas” ,
arguably one of the sweetest sad song of all times, had his fans swooning in melancholic rapture!
With this single masterpiece of a song, he appeared to have dethroned, even if temporarily, Dev, Dilip & Raj as master thespians of sad serenades. Shammi ruled the roost at every jharokha-e-dil (or the window of heart) of his countless fans with this song. Mohd. Rafi justly deserved the Filmfare Award for the best male playback that year, as did Shammi his Filmfare for the best actor. The sweep was completed by the best music direction award for Shankar Jaikishan, the best lyricist Filmfare for Shailendra and by the movie itself winning the Filmfare best movie of the year award!
In what must be termed a travesty of fate, as he began putting on weight, Shammi decided it was the time for completing his image switchover. Andaaz (1971) witnessed a change in andaaz by Shammi, getting transformed for enactments of a family man, yet ever the maverick, he chose hatke roles while ceding his loverboy status to the likes of then emerging superstar Rajesh Khanna, who appeared in a short cameo singing paeans to Shammi’s style of romancing the life in that huge hit from the same movie:
“Zindagi ek safar hai suhana,
yahaan kal kya ho kisne jaana”.
It was as though Shammi was handing over the baton of romantic superstardom’s relay race to Rajesh Khanna at this point!
Andaaz proved to be his last film as a lead. As his career as hero ended, he started doing character roles instead. In 1974, he played Saira Banu’s father in Zameer, when he had been her leading man in Junglee (1961) & Bluff Master (1964) just a decade ago.
He also made his directorial debut with Manoranjan in 1974 and followed it up with Bundal Baaz in 1976. Both were critically acclaimed. Manoranjan, a movie inspired from Irma La Douce, had Sanjeev Kumar in the lead role & Shammi played an all important supporting role, enamuoring himself to his fans once again in what must be termed a
directorial & acting style! Critics hailed his directorial skills as being ahead of the times in both Manoranja & Bundal Baaz. In 1980s &1990s, he continued to play supporting roles in many films and won a Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award in 1982 for his role in Vidhaata.
The conferment of the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, finally elevated him rightfully to the status of one of the all time greats of Hindi cinema
It’s been a year today since Shammi Sahab parted physical company with his fans & admirers. But even in his absentia, the lovers of his art have not tired of re-relishing & re-savouring his exciting craft, specially as resonated through the delightful songs of his movies echoing his fun psyche & joyous, free-spirited temperament.
If anything, yeh “pagla kahin ka” dil maange more of such fond, nostalgic reminiscences from Shammi sahab’s unique immortal contributions to the world of Hindi cinema even after he is gone; allowing his soul to smile with benevolent self satisfaction while reminding his countless, devoted fans in that stirring number from this last of his movies (viz. Pagla kahin ka) as a romantic lead:
“Tum mujhe yoon bhula na paaoge
Jab kabhi bhi sunoge geet mere
Sang sang tum bhi gungunaoge!!!”
Long live Shammi sahab, entertainer par exellence & paragon of joi de vivre for the romantic, musical genre of Hindi cinema oldies in our hearty recapitulations of his great body of works!!!