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Shammi Kapoor: I never learnt how to dance

Last updated on: October 19, 2010 14:41 IST

'I never learnt how to dance'


Sreya Basu, Trans World Features in Mumbai

Shammi Kapoor describes himself as Renaissance man, retired actor and computer buff on Twitter.


The actor, who has entertained audiences over five decades, looks back at his time in front of the camera.


He tells Trans World Features correspondent Sreya Basu what was the best part of being an actor is, and much more.


What's the best thing of being in the Indian film industry for over five decades?


The most wonderful thing about the films of my times was the innocence. Those were happy movies -- hero meets heroine, chases her, sings seven-eight songs for fasao-ing (wooing) her, and then last mein Pranji ki tarah ek villain bhi aa jayenge. The hero has a climax fight with Pran to save the heroine. And at the end, the lovers are united.


I belong to the era when films were simple, they didn't tax your brains. My films were not thought-provoking, they were hardcore entertainers.


Most of your musical hits were playbacked by Mohammad Rafi.


Rafisaab was my voice. After his death, I lost my voice. I cried like hell.


He had a great sense of humour. Generally, I used to be present at the recordings of all my songs. I would ask him to sing the songs with the nuances that I would portray on screen and he would happily oblige. After the recording, when I listened to the songs, I would wonder how could he sing exactly the way I wished him to! 

Image: Shammi Kapoor


'I never had a dance master'

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You never asked Rafi how he could feel your pulse?

Yes, I did.

Remember the song Aasman se aaya farista from Kashmir Ki Kali? I was not present at the recording of that song. After listening to the song, I asked him, 'Main toh wahan tha nehin, so how could you get the exact nuances that I planned to perform on screen?'

He said: 'I just fantasised how Shammi Kapoor will sing and perform this song. If he is Shammi Kapoor, then at one moment he will jump from here and then take a dive from there.'

You had your unique style of dancing.

I never learnt how to dance; never had a dance master. When I was 18-19 years old, I joined a dancing school in Dadar to learn the tango. They used to charge    20 for an hour. After spending    100, I realised that I hadn't learnt anything. But I always gave expressions as required to my songs.

Image: Shammi Kapoor in Kashmir Ki Kali

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'I forgot my dialogues seeing Madhubala'

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You once said you used to forget your dialogues seeing Madhubala. True?

Absolutely true. There was this film, Rail Ka Dibba (1953). Madhubala was my heroine. She was so beautiful and I was a new hero, hardly 20 years old. I used to forget my dialogues seeing her and she used to help me out.

Can you pick one film that will remain unforgettable for you?

I will never forget Teesri Manzil. It was during the shooting of the film that I suffered the saddest moment of my life -- I lost my wife (Geeta Bali) in 1965. I was shattered, but had to continue shooting.

She was there before Teesri Manzil's shooting started. She was very happy that I was offered the film. She said she wanted to see my contribution in the film. I could not digest that fact that she was no longer there.

Image: Madhubala and Shammi Kapoor

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'I discovered Internet before you got Internet in India'

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What made the eternal lover boy of Indian cinema so computer savvy even before the Internet wave hit India?

I discovered Internet before you got Internet in India. I took it up as a hobby. I am on Apple and they gave us a website called eWorld. The British telecom gave us a line through VSNL, even though VSNL was not available at that time (1994). That was an eye-opener -- something completely new. By the time Internet came to India, we were already first-marchers...already sab kuch dekh liya tha.

You have the latest gadgets, including the IPad. You are on Facebook, Twitter, maintain your own website.

I have been going to the hospital thrice a week for dialysis for the last seven years. There are millions of well-wishers who pray for me, bless me so that I remain healthy and return home safe.  Believe me, Internet is the best medium to connect with lost friends.

I had a very dear friend Afzal in Pakistan. It shocked me completely when I received his email one day after 50 years! The machine (computer) did another good to me.

What's that?

The moment the mouse came in my hand, the cigarette flew away permanently.

Image: Shammi Kapoor

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