People know Shashi Kapoor as one of the most incredibly handsome men of his time, son of Prithviraj Kapoor and youngest brother of Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, and a versatile actor who was loved by people across all generations.
His iconic dialogue “Mere paas maa hai” from the 1975 release ‘Deewar’ is fresh in our memories even today and despite watching the movie numerous times, it still leaves us teary-eyed every single time we see the two brothers, Ravi and Vijay, fighting with each other. So what made this one dialogue, originally meant to use as an argument against the wrongdoings of his criminal brother, attain cult status? Probably that’s the charm of Shashi Kapoor and we don’t think any other actor can even come close to recreating it.
With the demise of Shashi Kapoor, it is an end of an era for Bollywood, leaving a void that can never be filled.
However, what many people don’t know is that Shashi Kapoor was not only a great actor but also a passionate romantic, whose love story has been immortalized in the golden pages of Bollywood. The struggles he went through both on the personal and professional front and how he overcame all those obstacles with the help of his wife, Jennifer Kendal.
Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal’s love story was not an ordinary affair, neither was it easy for the two to get married. After facing resistance from Jennifer’s family and particularly her father, Geoffrey Kendal, cupid finally weaved its magic around the two star-crossed lovers and the two got married in 1958.
© Merchant Ivory Productions
Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal loved each other deeply and fought all odds to finally get married. In fact, there are a lot of sweet instances they shared after their wedding. It is said that when the couple travelled to Calcutta for their honeymoon, the hotel room in which they stayed, is surprisingly till date addressed ‘The Shashi Kapoor Room’.
It was said to be love at first sight for the then 18-year-old Shashi Kapoor who met Jennifer for the first time in Calcutta in 1956. Jennifer was a part of her father’s ‘Shakespeareana’ production and Shashi was a member of the Prithvi Theatre company.
Soon, Shashi Kapoor too joined ‘Shakespeareana’ for a brief time and the two worked together in many shows. In fact, it was their shared love for theatre that helped the two establish Prithvi Theatre in Bombay in 1978.
© Trimurti Films
Jennifer Kendal or Jennifer Kapoor is not a new or insignificant name in Bollywood. She has worked in some great movies like ‘Bombay Talkie’, ‘Junoon’ and ’36 Chowringhee Lane’. The 1970 release ‘Bombay Talkie’ was one of the best films in which the two were together. This is the same movie that featured Amitabh Bachchan in a cameo. For those who don’t know, the couple featured together in another movie called ‘Shakespeare Wallah’ which also starred Kendal’s parents and her sister.
According to India Today, in an autobiography on Shashi Kapoor by Aseem Chhabra, Sanjana Kapoor (their daughter) was quoted as, “When they were doing theatre (Shashi and Jennifer), they were poor. They were under-slept and underfed and my father would tell me how they would be tormented by hunger while strolling down the streets-both my parents trying to decide if they could get half a paratha. Then, they would walk past a restaurant and there would be my grandfather, Geoffrey Kendal, having a huge meal with a beer. My father couldn’t walk in. He was his employee and he was also stealing his daughter. So there was no way he could march into the storm.”
© Merchant Ivory Productions
In 1982 Jennifer was diagnosed with colon cancer and succumbed to it in 1984. Jennifer’s death was one of the major blows for Shashi Kapoor. In fact, the ones who are close to him feel that his health never recovered after she passed away. Jennifer’s death broke Shashi Kapoor in ways that no one can understand.
© Chaudhury Enterprises
Amitabh Bachchan, who Shashi Kapoor fondly called ‘Babbua’ and shared a very close camaraderie with, said in his blog http://srbachchan.tumblr.com/, “He had been ailing…somewhere he had let himself go after the passing away of his dear wife Jennifer…I had visited him on occasion in Hospital during some of the times he had been hospitalised earlier…but I never went to see him again…I would never have…I never ever wanted to see this beautiful friend and ‘samdhi’ in the state I saw him in hospital.”
Shashi Kapoor loved Jennifer with all his heart and their love story will be remembered time and again in several years to come. Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal are survived by their children – Kunal Kapoor, Karan Kapoor and Sanjana Kapoor.