Top Ten Shashi Kapoor

24 Feb

As requested by Beth, here’re my top ten must-watch Shashi Kapoor movies. Except they’re not my real Top Ten because she’s already seen a bunch of my favorite Shashi movies like Kaala Patthar, Junoon, Trishul, Aa Gale Lag Jaa (oh, come on! Admit it, you loved it too!), Do Aur Do Paanch, Namak Halaal, Sharmeelee, and, of course, Shakespearewalah. That’s almost a top ten right there.

And this is why Shashi Kapoor is so awesome. There aren’t a lot of actors out there who can bring out the amazing so consistently for so many years and do the movie star thing so well, especially when they’re asked to be a lean, mean roller-skating machine.

I’ve only ever run into him at an airport and while he wasn’t the Shashi of the movies by then – he was clearly somebody’s overweight pawpaw – he smiled that beautiful gentle smile at all of us lesser mortals as we parted for him to make his way to his seat and I swear to God, I’d have jumped his bones if he’d so much as looked at me. He’s lovely. And if any of your heathens have gory stories that say different, kindly keep them to yourself – I do not want to know. Leave me my illusions!

In no particular order I’d recommend:

Dharmaputra – There are two things about this movie that shock the hell out of me. One is that this was directed by Yash Chopra (shortly after he survived the Partition, I might add) and the second is that nobody seems to remember this movie was ever made. If I were Chopra, this is the movie that I’d bring up in every conversation about my films. It’s a movie about families and the communities they live in; the search for rationality in religion. It was also Shashi Kapoor’s first lead role, I believe.

The Householder – Going by his taste in the movies he produced (36 Chowringee Lane, Junoon, Utsav – but also, apparently, Ajooba!), I don’t know if he thought of the Merchant Ivory movies as his real work and the Bollywood movies as a bill paying job, but there’s a depth to the work he did with them that’s missing in most of his other efforts. Of course, that just might be a testament to Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s writing as well. In any case, The Householder is in turns funny, sad, odd and quite moving. I also found it pretty romantic, which seems to shock a lot of people. I say, those people have no soul. And if ever there was a woman for whom I’d turn lesbian, that woman is Leela Naidu.

Utsav – I believe, generations of young Indian men have been desperately in love with this movie. Or rather, the sight of Rekha in full seductress mode. Personally, I’d have been turned off by the fact that the recipient of her affections was Shekhar Suman, who channels a dead fish throughout the movie, but whatever. I suppose they didn’t notice. However, the story here isn’t really about sex, although everybody in the film talks about it all the time. It’s about the need for love and fidelity – and the price we’d pay for those two things. Shashi plays a small but pivotal character, but I think this qualifies as a Shashi movie coz he produced it.

Pyaar Ka Mausam – There is only one thing you need to know going in: this movie was made by Nasir Hussain. Therefore things are delightfully proto-Bollywood (I’m one of those who firmly believe ‘Bollywood’ didn’t come into its own until Salim Javed met Amitabh Bachchan) and nothing really makes sense but everything comes out alright in the end. But there is a lot of good music and the only reason I can forgive Asha Parekh for being such a bleating ninny is because I suspect I too would have swallowed the lines Shashi fed her with such elan.

Kanyadaan – This is the kind of movie I watch when I’m feeling lachrymose. There isn’t anything especially great about it but it’s so comforting to watch the usual “Hero Jerkface acts in the best interests of everybody only to completely shatter Idealistic Bride when she finds out his deep, dark secret” story when it’s done so well. Sigh.

Deewar – Duh!

Doosara Aadmi – Strictly speaking, this is a Rishi Kapoor film and Shashi has a special appearance. But it still blows my mind that this movie got made. Not only is it all sorts of scandalous but it also creepy and – get this! – age appropriate! No wonder they never made anything like this ever again.

Heat and Dust – I’m probably going to get strung up for saying this, but I really liked this movie. I usually can’t stand the whole Raj nonsense, especially the vast array of literature and movies that came out around the same time as this movie, but this one I rather… loved. 😳 You shouldn’t judge me until you see the movie.

In Custody – This list is turning into a Merchant Ivory love fest but I can’t help it. I was reminded of this movie just recently when watching that flashback sequence in Khoya Khoya Chand. It sort of kills you to see Shashi as the bloated old man living off his glory days, reciting couplets in that beautiful soft voice of his, and to see glimpses of the poet in his younger days in those eyes – especially because we have seen old Shashi. I love it.

Jinnah – Shashi is the narrator here so I think it qualifies by the skin of its teeth. I thought this was a really good movie, if a little worthy in the manner of all such biopics, and I’ve always been sad that a performance as painstakingly crafted as Christopher Lee’s became a matter of such controversy. Not that it affected his career but I really do think the movie got shafted.

That’s my ten. And looking at IMDB, I realize I still have a bunch of movies that I haven’t seen.


Posted by on February 24, 2008 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Video


24 responses to “Top Ten Shashi Kapoor

  1. Beth

    February 24, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    I love you! Must re-read before commenting.

  2. ana

    February 25, 2008 at 1:18 am


    Heat and Dust is an awesome movie. I think what saves it is that it is more than a Raj movie, na? The going back and forth in time. And the fantastic acting by everyone especially Shashi and Julie Christie and was it Greta Scacchi? I guess Zakir Hussain was okay too.

    And yeah, Deewar, duh! 😀

    They have most if not all of Aa Gale Lag Ja on YouTube, and I watched some of it last night, he is soooo adorable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one before.

    Another one where Shashi is wonderful, even though his character is somewhat of a dick is Hanif Kureishi’s Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, where he plays a Pakistani general visiting his son in England. You may, or may not like that.

  3. Amrita

    February 25, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Beth – aawwww! :mrgreen: I had so much fun!

    Ana – You’re right. it IS more than a Raj movie. Have you read the book? I keep meaning to but never have yet. Maybe this week I’ll pick up a copy. It was Greta Scacchi I believe. Her first role though I could be mistaken. You have to rent AGLJ! It’s so much fun! I need to watch more shashi movies like the one you mentioned, then Pretty Polly where he apparently played some sort of Singaporean gigolo opp Hayley Mills of all people and Bhowani Junction. I wonder why everyone makes such a song and dance about Ash working in Hollywood when Shashi and Om Puri to name just two have been working in Oscar winning movies for decades!

  4. nits

    February 25, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Ohhh you missed Shakespearewallah which I absolutely adore 😦

  5. Amrita

    February 25, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Nits – No no, I love Shakespearewala too! But Beth’d already seen it so I left it off the list. some of the other movies I left out coz they’d already made Beth’s list are Kaala Patthar, Junoon, Trishul, Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Do Aur Do Paanch, Namak Halaal, and Sharmeelee.

  6. Sanket

    February 25, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Glad to see there are other Shashi fans out there – growing up Desi I was always torn between Amitabh & Shashi & loved the movies they did together. Therefore I would like to add the following movies to your top 10 list – ‘Silsila’, ‘Namak Halal’ & the wonderful insanity that is ‘Suhaag’. Also, I loved the songs for ‘Chor Machaye Shor’ but have yet to see the movie…

    Love your website and adding it to my blogroll – come check out mine & do the same if you like what you see.

    cheers!, Sanket

  7. memsaab

    February 25, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Pyar Kiye Jaa is a must-see too! And I agree completely about Dharmputra—why is it not a famous film?

  8. Shweta

    February 25, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    I agree w/ memsaab on “Pyar Kiye Jaa.” But we cannot forget the 2-Shashi movie: “Haseena Man Jayegi”- I dont recall any others w/ him in a double role.

  9. ABC

    February 25, 2008 at 8:18 pm


    You have missed out “Kalyug” from your list – one of the best Sashi movies.

    Another one missing in ur list is Basera – it was a commercial hit – i haven’t seen it though – so really don’t know it is a good one or not

  10. Amrita

    February 27, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Saket – hi 🙂 I dont know why I left Silsila out. Maybe coz I’ve always thought of it as a Bachchan movie? Suhaag is strictly okay by me and Chor Machaye Shor is the same. Already lurking at your site!

    Memsaab – I know, right? And I havent seen Pyarr Kiye Jaa actually. I’l def check it out.

    Shweta – reason enough to check out Haseena Maan Jaayegi. I have an unreasonable bias against that movie coz Babita is in it so i havent seen it yet. But I read the plot summary recently and was intrigued. I thought it was a candy floss movie but doesnt sound like it.

    ABC – so I have! thanks for pointing it out. I havent seen Basera but plan to sometime 🙂

  11. Beth

    February 28, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    What a fun thread this is! I have Pyar Kiye Jaa, Shankar Dada, Duniya Meri Jeb Mein, Haseena Maan Jayegi, and Waqt on top of my tv waiting to be watched. Amrita, your whole list sounds great, and between it and other commenters’ suggestions, I’ve got enough to last me for months! Whoopeeee! 🙂

  12. Beth

    February 28, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    And if you haven’t seen it, my friend Kaddele, who I credit for introducing me to Shashi, wrote a guide to Shashi on her blog Paint It Pink:

  13. Anne

    May 7, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Hey guys, you forgot Aamne Samne (another one with Babita). I met with Shahshi Kapoor 2 years ago in New York – it was a really great just talking to him. I’ve always been a big fan of his and I’ve seen practically all of his movies. He was simply the best!

  14. Amrita

    May 7, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Anne – I don’t think I’ve seen Aamne Saamne. It’s going on the list 🙂 And lucky you!

  15. Anne

    May 7, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Hello Amrita, I saw this movie (Aamne Samne) a couple of times. Sharmilla Tagore looks good and of course, Shashi is simply the cutest! The songs are delightful and the story is not so bad. I have always been an ardent fan of Shashi Kapoor and when I met him when he was visiting New York, it was a thrill for me. We sat down and chatted for a very long time and he signed all of my movies. I told him that my favorite was Pyar Ka Mausam – that song “tum bin jao kaha” always gets to me – he said that this was a fun movie. He was a real gentleman and very down to earth. I have a feeling that he enjoys his life now and doesn’t look back at what was, not like some of the others. There are a couple of other movies, Jab Jab Phool Khile and Neend Hamari Kwab Tumhari (I don’t speak Hindi, so pardon my English translation) where Shashi Kapoor looks really good and the music is great. Ask me, I have all of his movies!

  16. Sunita

    July 16, 2008 at 8:08 am

    I have always enjoyed Shashi Kapoor’s Hindi movies barring his heroines. I haven’t had the chance to watch any of his ‘western’ movies. . I immensly enjoyed “Junoon”. I have seen it 8 times. whenever I see it, I get goose bumps. He is awsome in it.

  17. Pitu

    July 16, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Omg Shashi was delish!! And I lurved him in Jab Jab Phool Khile (although Nanda scarred me for life) I love how he straddled the art and commercial movements. And his cheeky grin was a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e That Kunal Kapoor (Bombay Dyeing) was such a hottie too.

  18. Amrita

    July 18, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Sunita – his movies with Merchant Ivory are wonderful esp Shakespearewallah and The Householder. I’m with you on the Junoon love.

    Pitu – i can’t stand that movie but I’ll grant you that it’s waaay better than what Aamir Khan did to it. Also Nanda is a sweetie but she looked like his mom in it. Omg, I havent heard anyone mention Kunal Kapoor in forever! I remember him doing some godawful multicast movie that I was really excited to watch coz he was SO hot, and the memory of his wooden delivery is one of my most cherished ones. Dude was really hot though.

  19. Pitu

    July 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Oh ya the movie was eminently forgettable but oh the songs!!! It’s a Rafisaab feast! Yummy yummy Mr Kunal Kapoor- I sat through the horrendous ‘Sultanat’ only for him. It was Juhi’s debut film btw. I believe that is the film you are referring to because I haven’t heard of any of his other films. It was also hilarious to watch this gora chitta blue eyes angrez-chhap chokra as a ‘Pathan’ who speaks Urdu with an Eton accent :-p

  20. Amrita

    July 19, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Sultanat!!! that’s the name of it. Was it really Juhi’s debut? I remember her in it but very peripherally. I was completely transfixed by Kunal and his dialogues. How the rest of the cast made it through without stopping to giggle every other second, I don’t know.

  21. Ishwar

    July 29, 2008 at 6:38 am

    I am a Shashi Kapoor’s fan & these are the my top 10 list.
    1. Jab Jab Phool Khile, 2. Hasina Maan Jaayegi, 3. Fakira, 4. Deewaar, 5. Aa Gale Lag Ja, 6. Pyar Ka Mausam, 7. Chori Mera Kaam 8. Chor Machaye Shor, 9. Sharmilee 10. Kabhi Kabhie

  22. Amrita

    July 29, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Ishwar – I can’t stand that first movie but the rest of them are total winners!

  23. Kanan

    August 3, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    OMG! you are a doll, Amrita. I am yet to read the whole post but just glancing over it made me so happy! yoohooo… thanks so much ❤

  24. Kanan

    August 3, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Aa gale lag ja – I have watched this one like more than 10 times within a time of couple of months. 😀 I love it love it love it!

    And oh my goodness, I have so many Shashi movies to watch because I think I’ve only watched PKM, Deewar and Kanyadaan? may be. Thanks to my ignorance I didn’t know about half of the movies in the list until today. Thanks a lot for the list.

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