Ravi is no more with us. The middle class man’s righteous son, simple, honest but unflinching against oppression has bode adieu to this tainted world. While he was there, no corrupt Vijay could run his crime syndicate even if he was blood (Deewar) and no Dhanraj Puri could harass his coalmine workers (Kaala Patthar). Late Shashi Kapoor essayed the role of Ravi four times on the silver screen. And with that character he became a doyen for the middle class, a champion who had the entire nation rallying with him against the various nefarious elements in the society. Men and women both swooned at Vijay, a larger than life character, with a swagger which deflates the sturdy. But every man in his heart wanted to become Ravi, one who is respected by all and is the son every mother aspires to have.
1970s was a rich period for Bollywood with the advent of stars who would capture the country’s imagination. From Amitabh to Dharmendra to Shatrughan Sinha, stars commanded the industry and had characters knitted to fit their persona. Shashi Kapoor made his mark during that period with his simpleton characters which had depth in psyche instead of being overtly pompous. His movie choices during that period bear testament to this fact. From the kind hearted Heeralal (in Heeralal Pannalal) to Raja Kumar ( in Namak Halal), he was an embodiment of someone who is unflustered and knows black from white in his mind. The intricacies of his characters, more often than not, lied in their conflict with the other characters in the movie. Which showed that Shashi Kapoor could easily match and cope up with the frequencies at which his co-stars are functioning. You cannot imagine Vijay to have made Deewar the cult movie that it is today all by himself. He needed to be sermonized and shown the right path by his brother Ravi. And Shashi Kapoor was a master at portraying the righteous. His eyes delivered emotions which are still etched in many a minds. His acting stood out because of his measured method of dialogue delivery, nothing over the top, nothing bellicose, but precisely enough to rattle the character in front of him, and the audience too.
Born with a surname which is a dynasty in itself, a Bollywood royalty and a family which has served the entertainment industry through generations, Shashi Kapoor had the near perfect genes. But genes can only get you so far. The legacy which he leaves behind is a creation of his own hard work and talent. Even after he stopped acting, he has been the custodian of the great Prithvi Theatre at the heart of Mumbai. You could find him sitting on his wheelchair silently reminiscing the bygone days with a silent pride in his heart as he observed the crowd assembling day in and day out to watch the great dramas being enacted inside the theatre.
Shashi Kapoor is no more with us. But we should celebrate the rich volume of work he has left behind for us to enjoy and a Prithvi Theatre which carries his torch to the decades to come.
“Khwaab Zindagi se Kai Zyaada Khoobsurat Hote hain” (dreams are far more beautiful than life). Hope you have made your way to all that is beautiful and beyond. R.I.P. Sir