The realization of Shashi Kapoor


It was during his apprenticeship at the Prithvi theaters that Shashi Kapoor, through a whim of fate, met the woman who would be his wife. Shashi's future sister-in-law, Felicity Kendal, writes in her autobiography, White Cargo that one night her sister, Jennifer Kendal, who was thirteen years older than her, went to the Royal Opera House in Bombay. to see a performance of Deewaar by Prithvi Theaters. Shashi was behind the stage and went to look through the curtains; It was then that he caught a glimpse of Jennifer. There she was dressed in a black and white summer polka dot dress with a halter neckline, bold, and she was pretty […] fanning herself with her show. Shashi […] fell in love instantly.

Jennifer and Felicity's father, Geoffrey Kendal, who directed the Shakespeareana Theater Company, has a slightly different version of this incident. In his autobiography, The Shakespeare Wallah establishes the episode in the Empire Theater in Calcutta. According to him, the management company had made the mistake of setting the stage for Shakespeareana and Prithvi. Finally, the decision was reached that the two companies would act on alternate days. And it was on the night of Prithvi's performance when Shashi saw Jennifer through the stage curtains. "No, of course, I knew something about this for some time," says Geoffrey.

After the show, Shashi introduced himself and took Jennifer backstage; she was four years older than him. Felicity writes: "The next afternoon, I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant, watching Jennifer and Shashi fall in love with their noodles." They would stay together until she died, despite being thick and sometimes very thin. […] She had met in Shashi, Man who wanted forever. & # 39;

Shortly after, as the Shakespearean group fell short of actors, Shashi was asked to join the team, now based in Poona.Again, there is a slight discrepancy in the narrative of the events here, Felicity writes that Jennifer telegraphed Shashi to join the team, while Geoffrey presents a more plausible explanation of what might have happened: "I wrote to Prithviraj to ask him if he could lend me Shashi's his company for a while. "Shashi had never acted in English, but he voluntarily joined the group in 1957. For five months, Jennifer guided him through the hoops of Shakespeare, Shaw and other dramas. English maturges, helping him to pronounce phrases that the young actor had never pronounced or read. Sanjna Kapoor says: "My father used to tell me how difficult it was to learn Shakespeare's phrases: how terrifying was the process and how he felt like he had marbles in his mouth … He just could not pronounce the words!"

Geoffrey may have welcomed a young Indian actor into his fold. But he was not willing to allow him to enter his family; least he expected his daughter to intend to marry the boy. Geoffrey was extremely possessive of his children and was particularly opposed to losing Jennifer, his star. In attacks of protection, he often ridiculed Shashi and despised his accent. "He fought for Jennifer and was often rude," Shashi confessed to journalist Madhu Jain.

Young lovers found themselves trying to escape from Geoffrey's prying eyes. Sanjna says of her parents: "When they were doing theater, they were poor. They had little sleep and were malnourished and my father told me that hunger would torment them as they walked through the streets; My parents were trying to decide if they could get half of a paratha. Then, they pbaded by a restaurant and there was my grandfather, Geoffrey Kendal, with a big meal with a beer. My father could not enter. He was his employee and he was also stealing his daughter. So there was no way he could go to the storm. "

Geoffrey's obvious disregard for Shashi deeply unnerved Jennifer, and she confronted her father, then confided to Felicity," Daddy told me not to. is Shashi who is opposed, or the fact that he is Indian, or who is younger than I am […] He just does not want us to leave the company […] I wish he understood that all children grow up and they want to leave! & # 39;

To increase Jennifer's problems, Shashi remained shy, aware of her English and petrified from her parents. If their relationship progressed, it was because of the unconditional support of Shashi's sister-in-law (also an actor), Geeta Bali, and her husband (and Shashi's brother), Shammi Kapoor, that they had learned about the romance. It was a remarkable example of life that comes full circle. Like Shammi, whom Raj and his wife, Krishna, proposed to marry

with Geeta, Geeta and Shammi instigated Shashi to take Jennifer to Bombay and present her to her parents. But Shashi was still an apprehensive man. "I was shocked because I thought I would be hit," laughs Shashi. "Then I got engaged and took Jennifer to Shammiji's house and Geeta Bhabhi fell in love with her … A real romantic, she would lend us her car and some money to go out to eat and drive"

Eventually , at Shashi's request, Shammi spoke with his parents about Jennifer and they reluctantly approved the match. Geoffrey, however, refused to change his position. He remained firmly opposed to the relationship and established severe restrictions for his daughter. Finally, in an attempt to reclaim her independence and move on, Jennifer, with Shashi, left her theater company. For the patriarch, this was the last disappointment, and he was not willing to take the loss of his daughter lightly. He watched, stern and angry, the day she left; it is a moment, frozen in time, of which Felicity gives

a heart-rending story: "… when we stood on the terrace that morning and

Jennifer, with red eyes, hugged her neck [Geoffrey’s] Small shoulders shaking with sobs, he was standing stiff and straight, with his arms glued to his sides, looking forward and in silence, until I pulled her away from him and hugged her to the waiting taxi. Shashi's face at this awful behavior is something I will never forget.

Jennifer and Shashi were now alone, in a big, sometimes hostile world, they took a flight to Singapore and Malaysia for a theatrical show, but luckily, The performances were canceled and they found themselves without money.A desperate Shashi made an external call to India, and begged Raj to help him, who promptly dispatched two cheap tickets to Bombay.This is how Jennifer and Shashi came to the house of hers. to the Kapoor family in Matunga, and in July of 1958, they got married. Geoffrey did not attend the wedding, but finally reconciled with Jennifer when a son, Kunal, was born in 1960. The middle child, Karan, was born in 1962 and his daughter, Sanjna, five years later, in 1967.

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While Jennifer Kendal Kapoor was alive, she kept a strict watch on her husband's diet. This is the reason why, unlike the other men of Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor remained lean for a long time. That was also why many who were close to Shashi would feel bad! "I remember when I worked with him, I would look at his food and say, 'What's wrong with you, Uncle Shashi? "Neetu Singh Kapoor tells me." An orange that would have and thoda sa dahi (some yogurt). That was his lunch. And he would say,

"My wife will kill me if I eat something else!"

Excerpted with permission from Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, The Star by Aseem Chhabra, Publications Rupa, 2016

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