on the actor's trail

A scene-stealing encounter with the heart-stopping actor Shashi Kapoor

A flashback to the day when a school teacher decided to go and meet the Hindi movie star.

Chori Mera Kaam Yaaron, Chori Mera Kaam (Stealing is my job, friends): there couldn’t have been a better song written for Shashi Kapoor, the long-lashed, twinkling-eyed stealer of hearts from 1970s Hindi cinema. For all the romancing of Rajesh Khanna, the wrath of Angry Young Man Amitabh Bachchan and the garam of Dharmendra, it was Shashi Kapoor whose dishevelled forelocks and dimpled smile robbed one of all resistance and critical thinking. Whether he played convict or constable, loser or lover, Shashi Kapoor was a charmer all the way.

I left my Stardust-filled adolescence in Kolkata and came to Bombay in 1990 when I was in my late twenties. I was a teacher in a school then, but I was not ready to make teaching my whole life. I was interested in films and writing for them, but I didn’t have any more Hindi in me than Katrina Kaif. And I didn’t have her looks either.

One day, I decided I would go to meet Shashi Kapoor. It was as simple as that.

I was not filled with any kind of trepidation, as I asked for the liftman to take me to Shashi Kapoor’s flat in Atlas Apartments at Malabar Hill in Mumbai. Since those were more sensible times than the times in which we now live, I was not interrogated or peered at or made to wait for confirmation via intercom.

I didn’t meet Kapoor that day (he was in a meeting with Ismail Merchant) but his daughter Sanjna gave me a string of phone numbers and times I could reach him.

Maybe I was plain thick-skinned, but I refused to think this was the euphemistic “get lost” message that stars fob off their persistent fans with.

It wasn’t.

When I finally spoke to Shashi Kapoor, it was from a pay phone. The voice at the end of the line was courteous; a trifle amused maybe, but not patronising.

“I don’t know who told you I was doing anything in films these days,” he said. “In fact, I don’t think I will be doing anything for – oh – about four years now.”

“So should I call you four years later?” I asked, not knowing what else to say.

“No, it’s not like that,” he said, “You could come over and we could talk about things…”

Shashi Kapoor in Ramesh Sharma’s ‘New Delhi Times’. Courtesy Ramesh Sharma.
Shashi Kapoor in Ramesh Sharma’s ‘New Delhi Times’. Courtesy Ramesh Sharma.

I had absolutely no idea what I would say to him – and strangely, no anxiety about what he would find to say to me. There was just something that made me feel Shashi Kapoor was someone I could know.

At our first meeting in his house, Shashi Kapoor listened to me as I told him about myself and what I thought I could do. I didn’t have to spin stories of fandom and there was no sign of impatience or any self-importance smuggled into the time and attention he gave me. In fact, he barely spoke about himself at all.

He asked if I was a good reader. Had I read Thomas Hardy? The Mayor of Casterbridge perhaps? Could I think of writing a synopsis and doing a treatment of it? There might be something later, but would I consider doing it at this stage, with no payment or promises?

Having had brief encounters of strange kinds with others in the film industry, I was struck by his complete forthrightness of manner.

I flew back on wings to my little room at the Working Women’s Hostel in Colaba and hammered away at my typewriter, which, until then, had only typed examination questions. The synopsis was done and warmly received but for various reasons, the treatment was never fully written and things stopped there.

However, I wasn’t ready to let Shashi Kapoor disappear from my life.

I picked a moment to reconnect with Sanjna Kapoor and thereafter had a seven-year innings doing summer workshops at Prithvi Theatre. Shashi Kapoor and I signed children’s participation certificates together and once or twice we chatted over lunch about the films he loved being a part of and those in which he had felt love’s labour had been lost. But we talked of other things too – about Bengali fish curry and Shakespeare, and he told me some colourful tales surrounding the making of Chori Mera Kaam, one of the craziest fun films of its time.

Three years ago, I took one of Kapoor’s earliest fans to meet him – Nalini Parab, a nurse who is now about 75. She had looked after my mother before my mother passed away and she had repeated herself over and over, “I have only one wish. I want to meet Shashi Kapoor. I know he is ill and in a wheelchair and I know he is not what he used to be, but Shashi Kapoor is Shashi Kapoor.”


As I write this now, I seem not to be thinking of all the pictures I had collected of Shashi Kapoor – as the debonair, dashing Ravi swinging Neetu Singh in his arms in Deewaar or of the restrained and handsome Karan, bringing the calm into Kalyug. I am thinking of a real “bhadralok” minus any arrogance, a true blue-blooded Gentleman Actor whom I have the privilege of knowing a little.

Images obtained from Rupa Publications.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The ordeal of choosing the right data pack for your connectivity needs

"Your data has been activated." <10 seconds later> "You have crossed your data limit."

The internet is an amazing space where you can watch a donkey playing football while simultaneously looking up whether the mole on your elbow is a symptom of a terminal diseases. It’s as busy as it’s big with at least 2.96 billion pages in the indexed web and over 40,000 Google search queries processed every second. If you have access to this vast expanse of information through your mobile, then you’re probably on something known as a data plan.

However, data plans or data packs are a lot like prescription pills. You need to go through a barrage of perplexing words to understand what they really do. Not to mention the call from the telecom company rattling on at 400 words per minute about a life-changing data pack which is as undecipherable as reading a doctor’s handwriting on the prescription. On top of it all, most data packs expect you to solve complex algorithms on permutations to figure out which one is the right one.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

Even the most sophisticated and evolved beings of the digital era would agree that choosing a data pack is a lot like getting stuck on a seesaw, struggling to find the right balance between getting the most out of your data and not paying for more than you need. Running out of data is frustrating, but losing the data that you paid for but couldn’t use during a busy month is outright infuriating. Shouldn’t your unused data be rolled over to the next month?

You peruse the advice available online on how to go about choosing the right data pack, most of which talks about understanding your own data usage. Armed with wisdom, you escape to your mind palace, Sherlock style, and review your access to Wifi zones, the size of the websites you regularly visit, the number of emails you send and receive, even the number of cat videos you watch. You somehow manage to figure out your daily usage which you multiply by 30 and there it is. All you need to do now is find the appropriate data pack.

Promptly ignoring the above calculations, you fall for unlimited data plans with an “all you can eat” buffet style data offering. You immediately text a code to the telecom company to activate this portal to unlimited video calls, selfies, instastories, snapchats – sky is the limit. You tell all your friends and colleagues about the genius new plan you have and how you’ve been watching funny sloth videos on YouTube all day, well, because you CAN!

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

Alas, after a day of reign, you realise that your phone has run out of data. Anyone who has suffered the terms and conditions of unlimited data packs knows the importance of reading the fine print before committing yourself to one. Some plans place limits on video quality to 480p on mobile phones, some limit the speed after reaching a mark mentioned in the fine print. Is it too much to ask for a plan that lets us binge on our favourite shows on Amazon Prime, unconditionally?

You find yourself stuck in an endless loop of estimating your data usage, figuring out how you crossed your data limit and arguing with customer care about your sky-high phone bill. Exasperated, you somehow muster up the strength to do it all over again and decide to browse for more data packs. Regrettably, the website wont load on your mobile because of expired data.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

Getting the right data plan shouldn’t be this complicated a decision. Instead of getting confused by the numerous offers, focus on your usage and guide yourself out of the maze by having a clear idea of what you want. And if all you want is to enjoy unlimited calls with friends and uninterrupted Snapchat, then you know exactly what to look for in a plan.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

The Airtel Postpaid at Rs. 499 comes closest to a plan that is up front with its offerings, making it easy to choose exactly what you need. One of the best-selling Airtel Postpaid plans, the Rs. 499 pack offers 40 GB 3G/4G data that you can carry forward to the next bill cycle if unused. The pack also offers a one year subscription to Amazon Prime on the Airtel TV app.

So, next time, don’t let your frustration get the better of you. Click here to find a plan that’s right for you.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel and not by the Scroll editorial team.