A Junglee, A Prince, A Legend: Shammi Kapoor

When my father, the most diehard Shammi Kapoor fan, would get the letter 'Y' during our weekly rounds of antarkshari, it was by default that he would sing the iconic words "Yahooooo!!!" Ek dum tashan mein. It was via Dad that I learned to love Shammi Kapoor and all things retro Bollywood. His demise today made my heart sink. Not only did Shammi Kapoor bring the screen to life, he managed to be the glue that kept Dad and I close to old school Hindi cinema. As a young girl, I remembered the passion with which my father would talk about his idol. With excitement in his voice, he would describe Kapoor's dancing, his acting, his flamboyant style, his inhibited way of life and his love for cinema. It was through Dad that I heard of the news. His voice trembling as he uttered the words, "Shammi Kapoor passed away today. I'm very upset."

As hardcore Bollywood fans, we know what we've lost; a man who defined style and extravagance. Whether it was in his clothes or his acting style, his unique unchoreographed dancing, his facial expressions which cannot be imitated or his innate passion for the big screen, we'll never seen another one like him ever again. The heights he reached are incredible. But it wasn't a matter of luck with Shammi Kapoor. He deserved it because he was destined to be an actor who defined cinema like no one else in the sixties. If you watch his transition from black and white to color films, you immediately realize that while time and technology changed, he didn't. Passion and zest for films intact, he moved on with the ages but never lost himself.  He single-handedly immortalized the word Yahoo. He played a Prince, a Junglee, a Bluffmaster, a Boyfriend, a Jaanwar even. But what was it that really made people swoon, earlier and current generations, over India’s answer to Elvis Presley?

For me, it was the way he bobbed his head as his curled bang across his forehead which would move as he tilted his head to sing some of his best numbers. Kapoor owned the term Rock Star Swagger. He walked into a scene and you were just mesmerized by the manner in which he took over the frame. It didn’t matter which heroine he was romancing, you were drawn and magnetized to Shammi. Aur koi nahin. It’s incredible how Shammi Kapoor would wear what we now would deem a garish gold brocade evening jacket, and rock it. Only he could shake his biscuit (shake it and how), swing from a helicopter in a red bathrobe and even sport a moustache with incredible style. Yet again, you watched in sheer amazement.

India has lost an actor, a veteran, a visionary, a visual treat. How I would have loved to have met him once. Just once. But alas, that was not meant to be. To my father and I, we feel the loss as deeply as any other Shammi Kapoor fan would. But I know his Chand Sa Roshan Chehra will live on forever. Shammi Uncle, We miss you already.

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