Sparkling, scintillating superstar Shammi

Remembering India’s first rockstar on his 89th birth anniversary


October 21, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

Sparkling, scintillating superstar Shammi

Shammi Kapoor is often called the first rockstar of Indian cinema

Often called the first rockstar of Indian cinema, Shammi Kapoor, is remembered for his legendary films, boyish charm, dance moves and never-ending energy.

Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe is one song that brings back memories of a whole generation shouting yahoo in theatres while their heartthrob, a carefree and attractive lad tumbles down snowy mountains in beautiful Kashmir valley in the early 1960s.

October 21, 2020 marks the 89th 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.

Shammi Kapoor’s debut movie was Jeevan Jyoti (1953) and after that, he went to deliver many superhits in Hindi as well as a few in Tamil cinema. In a career spanning over six decades, Kapoor worked in many of the commercial hits of 50s and 60s like Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), Dil Deke Dekho (1959), Singapore (1960), Junglee (1961), Professor (1962), Rajkumar (1964), Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), Janwar (1965), Teesri Manzil (1966), An Evening in Paris (1967),


A scene from Junglee (1961) starring Shammi Kapoor and Saira Banu

Brahmachari (1968), Prince (1969) and Andaz (1971) among many others. He was last seen in Imtiaz Ali’s 2011 film, Rockstar, with his grand-nephew Ranbir Kapoor.

The ever-energetic, almost bouncy, broody-eyed actor, who introduced an element of craziness in romance and a twist onto the dance floors, Kapoor was often compared to the American singer and actor Elvis Presley because of his looks, style and mannerisms.

Junglee, starring Kapoor and Saira Banu, displayed Kapoor’s ability to drop his inhibitions- just like the beat in the very famous Yahoo song and blend in with the music.

Kashmir Ki Kali, starring Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore stands out not just because of the ephemeral songs strung together by OP Nayyar, but because of Kapoor’s antics. Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra, picturised on shikaras on the beautiful Dal Lake, had viewers skip a beat every time Kapoor spread his arms to the beat and Mohammad Rafi’s melodious pitch, scared that he would topple off the slim boat. He does in the end, intentionally, but until then his gravity-defying moves kept the audience enthralled.


Shammi Kpoor worked with Sharmila Tagore in Kashmir ki Kali (1964)

O Haseena Zulfonwali (Teesri Manzil) and Aaj Kal Tere Mere Pyar Ke Charche (Brahmachari) had the same electrifying effect. Even with Helen’s lascivious moves and Mumtaz’s wrap saree that was all the rage back then, Shammi Kapoor-with a twirl of a lock of hair on his forehead stole the show. If Kapoor brought a bucketful of untameable energy into such songs, he also managed to bring a sombre ruminative tone to songs that sang of heartbreaks. Dil Ke Jharoke Mein from Brahmachari, for instance, made audiences want to break into cathartic tears, thanks to Rafi’s crooning and Kapoor’s glistened eyes.

Unlike younger brother Shashi Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor never completely disappeared from the public eye, even when the lead roles were few and far between. He directed and


Rockstar, released in 2011 was Shammi Kapoor’s last film

produced films that tasted moderate success, he continued doing cameos and guest appearances, he even dabbled with television with Bible Ki Kahaniyan. But with a consistently deteriorating health, he took a sabbatical post-2006, only to come back one last time in Rockstar.

“It was almost poetic if you realise that the man who felt and relived music with every pore in his body, in a way got the most melodious send-off with Kun Faya Kun– a masterpiece by AR Rahman, in the buttery voices of Rahman, Javed Ali and Mohit Chauhan, nine years ago,” writes Imtiaz Ali, director of ­Rockstar.



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