Shashi Kapoor is a member of the Kapoor family, a film dynasty in India's Bollywood cinema. Kapoor was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) during the British Raj. He is the 3rd and the youngest son of Prithviraj Kapoor, the younger brother of Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, the widower of Jennifer Kendal (sister of actress Felicity Kendal), and the father of Karan Kapoor, Kunal Kapoor, and Sanjana Kapoor.
In 2011, he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India for his contributions to Art-Cinema. In 2015, he was awarded the 2014 Dadasaheb Phalke Award, making him the third member of his family to receive the highest award in Indian Cinema after Prithviraj Kapoor and Raj Kapoor.
Shashi Kapoor acted in plays directed and produced by his father Prithviraj Kapoor, while travelling with Prithvi Theatres. He started acting in films as a child in the late 1940s, appearing in commercial films including Sangram (1950) and Dana Paani (1953) under the name of Shashiraj as there was another actor by the same name who used to act in mythological films as child artiste. His best known performances as child actor were in Aag (1948) and Awaara (1951), where he played the younger version of the characters played by his older brother Raj Kapoor and in Sangram (1950), where he played younger version of Ashok Kumar. He worked in four Hindi films as a child artiste from 1948 to 1954.
Kapoor got an opportunity to work as an assistant director in the film Post Box 999, the debut film of Sunil Dutt, and worked as an assistant director to Ravindra Dave in Guest House (1959), which was followed by movies such as Dulha Dulhan and Shriman Satyawadi, where Raj Kapoor was the lead hero.
Shashi Kapoor made his debut as a leading man in the 1961 film Dharmputra and went on to appear in 116 Hindi films, including 61 films as the solo lead hero and 55 multi star-cast films, 21 films as supporting actor and special appearance in 7 films. He was a very popular actor in Bollywood during the 60s, 70s and until the mid 80s. Kapoor's early films, Dharmputra, Prem Patra, and Char Diwari, were in Hindi. Since 1961, he started acting in English language films, which include The Householder and Shakespeare-Wallah. He was one of India's first actors to go international. Actress Nanda, who was an established star at this time, signed 8 Hindi films with Kapoor, as she believed that he could deliver good performances. Their first two films as a pair were the critically acclaimed romantic film Char Diwari (1961) and Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath (1962). In the 1960s Kapoor acted in several romantic films opposite Nanda, including Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hain (1965), Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965), Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966), Raja Saab (1969) and Rootha Na Karo (1970). In an interview in the 1990s, Kapoor declared that Nanda was his favourite heroine and that he regarded her as one of his mentors. In another interview, Nanda stated that Shashi Kapoor was her favourite hero.
Shashi Kapoor formed on screen pairs with Raakhee, Sharmila Tagore and Zeenat Aman from the late sixties to the mid eighties. He also acted opposite actresses Hema Malini, Parveen Babi, and Moushumi Chatterjee in many films. After their first movie together Sharmelee became a blockbuster, Raakhee was frequently paired with him, and they acted in films such as Jaanwar Aur Insaan (1972), Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Baseraa (1981), Pighalta Aasman (1985), the critically acclaimed Trishna (1978), Doosara Aadmi (1977), Bandhan Kuchchey Daghon Ka, Bandh Honth (1984), and Zameen Aasman. He starred with Sharmila Tagore in Waqt (1965), Aamne Samne (1967), Suhana Safar (1970), Patanga (1971), Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973), Vachan (1974), Paap Aur Punya (1974), Swati (1986), the critically acclaimed New Delhi Times (1985), which fetched Kapoor a National Film Award for Best Actor in 1986, My Love (1970), Anari (1975), Gehri Chot (1983), Maa Beti (1986) and Ghar Bazar (1998). With Zeenat Aman, he worked in films like Chori Mera Kaam (1975), Deewaangee (1976), Roti Kapda Aur Makan, Heeralal Pannalal (1978), Pakhandi (1984), Bhavani Junction (1985), Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), Krodhi (1981), Vakil Babu (1982), and Bandhan Kuchchey Dhaagon Ka (1983). He did 10 films opposite Hema Malini.
Kapoor's other movies include Haseena Maan Jayegi (1968) and Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati (1969), both with Babita, Kanyadan (1968) and Pyar Ka Mausam (1969) both opposite Asha Parekh, Chor Machaye Shor opposite Mumtaz, Abhinetri (1970), Aap Beati (1976) and Maan Gaye Ustaad (1981), with Hema Malini, Bezubaan with Reena Roy, Chakkar Pe Chakkar (1976), Kali Ghata (1980), Kalyug (1981), Vijeta (1982) and Pyaar Ki Jeet (1987) all with Rekha and Bepanaah (1985) with Rati Agnihotri. Other films include multi-starrers like Dil Ne Pukara (1967), Trishul (1978), Neeyat (1980), Aandhi Toofan (1985), Naina (1973), Phaansi (1978), Salaakhen (1975), Fakira (1976), and Junoon (1978). He also worked with Rajesh Khanna in Prem Kahani (1975).
From the 1970s to early 1980s, Kapoor starred alongside Pran in 9 films which include Biradari, Chori Mera Kaam, Phaansi, Shankar Dada, Chakkar Pe Chakkar, Rahu Ketu and Maan Gaye Ustaad. He made a popular pairing with Amitabh Bachchan and the two co-starred in a total of 12 films: Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (1974), Deewaar (1975), Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Immaan Dharam (1977), Trishul (1978), Kaala Patthar (1979), Suhaag (1979), Do Aur Do Paanch (1980), Shaan (1980), Silsila (1981), Namak Halaal (1982) and Akayla (1991). Shashi Kapoor was regularly cast with Sanjeev Kumar also in films like Mukti (1977), Trishul, Muqaddar (1978), Swayamvar (1980), Sawaal (1982), and Pakhandi (1984).
He was also known internationally for starring in British and American films, notably Merchant Ivory productions run by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, such as The Householder (1963), Shakespeare Wallah (1965) (opposite his sister-in-law Felicity Kendal), Bombay Talkie (1970) and Heat and Dust (1982) in which he co-starred with his wife Jennifer Kendal, The Deceivers (1988) and Side Streets (1998). He also starred in other British and American films such as Pretty Polly ("A Matter Of Innocence" (1967)) opposite Hayley Mills, Siddhartha (1972), Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987), and Muhafiz (1994). James Ivory directed Kapoor in the first Merchant Ivory production The Householder, then in Shakespeare-Wallah, Bombay Talkie and Heat and Dust while Ismail Merchant directed him in In Custody (1993). He was the first Indian actor to work extensively in Hollywood films and British films.
In 1978, he set up his production house, Film Valas, which produced critically acclaimed films such as Junoon (1978), Kalyug (1981), 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), Vijeta (1982) and Utsav (1984). In 1991 he produced and directed a fantasy film titled Ajooba which had his frequent co-star Amitabh Bachchan and nephew Rishi Kapoor in the lead.
He regarded Nanda, Pran, Dharmendra, Dev Anand, Ismail Merchant, Rajesh Khanna, Sanjeev Kumar as his closest friends from the industry since the beginning of his career and maintained cordial relations with Amitabh Bachchan, Yash Chopra, MGR, Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and most of his co-stars.
He accepted very few roles as a character actor in films since 1987. He acted with Pierce Brosnan in The Deceivers (1988). He also won a National (special jury) Award for his performance in Muhafiz (In Custody) (1994), and played the Rajah in the TV adaptation of Gulliver's Travels (1996). His last and most recent film appearances were in Jinnah (1998), a biographical film of Mohammed Ali Jinnah in which he was the narrator and another Merchant Ivory production titled Side Streets (1998). He retired from the film industry by late 1990s and had not appeared in any film ever since. He was seen in the limelight at the Shashi Kapoor Film Festival held in Muscat, Oman (September 2007). At the 55th Annual Filmfare Awards, Shashi Kapoor received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kapoor attended Don Bosco High School in Matunga, Mumbai. He met English actress Jennifer Kendal in Calcutta in 1956 while both were working for their respective theatre groups. Shashi was both assistant stage manager as well as an actor for his father's theatre group, Prithvi Theatre. Geoffrey Kendal's Shakespearean group was also present at the same time in Calcutta and Jennifer was Geoffrey's daughter. After their subsequent meeting, the couple fell in love and after facing initial opposition from the Kendals and support from sister-in-law Geeta Bali, they got married in July 1958. They acted in a number of films together, most notably in Merchant Ivory productions. They had three children: Kunal Kapoor, Karan Kapoor and Sanjana Kapoor. Jennifer and Shashi established Prithvi Theatre on 5 November 1978 in Mumbai. Jennifer died of cancer in 1984 which shattered him. The English actress Felicity Kendal is his sister-in-law.
Kapoor's children, for a short while, became Hindi film actors but their European looks and accented Hindi prevented them from having successful careers. His eldest son Kunal is married to director Ramesh Sippy's daughter. Kunal moved on to ad film direction and established his production house Adfilm-Valas which is today extremely successful. Shashi's daughter Sanjana is married to wildlife conservationist Valmik Thapar. They have a son named Hamir. Shashi's younger son Karan became successful in modelling and later settled down in London. He is an accomplished photographer.
On 20 July 2012, Shashi Kapoor underwent a cataract surgery at Kokilaben Hospital in suburban Andheri. He was discharged from the hospital the same day.2011 – Padma Bhushan by the Government of India2015 – Dadasaheb Phalke Award
Winner1994 – National Film Award – Special Jury Award / Special Mention (Feature Film) for Muhafiz (1993)1986 – National Film Award for Best Actor for New Delhi Times1979 – National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi (as Producer) for Junoon
Winner2010 – Filmfare Lifetime Achievement AwardFilmfare Best Movie Award – Won
Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award – Won
1976 Deewar – Ravi Verma
NominatedFilmfare Best Supporting Actor Award – Nominated
1983 Namak Halaal – Raja Singh
1977 Kabhi Kabhie – Vijay Khanna
BFJA Award for Best Actor
1988 New Delhi Times – Vikas Pande
1965 Jab Jab Phool Khile – Raja
2011 – Mohammed Rafi AwardLifetime Achievement Award2009 – The 7th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF)2009 – The 11th Mumbai Film Festival (MFF)
He was honoured by Walk of the Stars as his hand print was preserved for posterity at Bandra Bandstand in Mumbai in November 2013.Shashi Kapoor presents the Prithviwallahs, by Shashi Kapoor, Deepa Gahlot, Prithvi Theatre (Mumbai, India). Roli Books, 2004. ISBN 81-7436-348-3.