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Shashi Kapoor: The quiet courage of the veteran star’s film choices and what they reveal about him

As a gay man in his formative years, during the time of Doordarsan and VHS tapes, my search for fantasy men always ended at the uncle-nephew pair of Kapoors — Shashi and Rishi. I was born in 1979, and growing up in the ’80s, Shashi Kapoor was one of the very few ‘evergreen’ heroes, who I longed to see shirtless. That’s not to say Shashi Kapoor was only about the sexiness — he was a fine artist, and who he was as a human being often reflected in his choice of onscreen roles.

Shashi Kapoor passed away on 4 December 2017, aged 79. Photo courtesy Facebook/@Shashi.Kapoor.Lovers

Shashi Kapoor passed away on 4 December 2017, aged 79. Photo courtesy Facebook/@Shashi.Kapoor.Lovers

He was daring enough, that in 1987, he chose to act in a film titled Sammy And Rosie Get Laid. He played neither Sammy nor Rosie, but his presence in the film indicated an open-mindedness of personality. In 1970’s Bombay Talkie, Shashi had an onscreen liplock with (wife) Jennifer Kendal — it’s a romantic scene that could well serve as a thesis on patriarchy and how it is propagated in Indian culture.

Without making a hue and cry about it, Shashi Kapoor was a feminist. His heart beat for equality. It is widely believed that until Karisma and Kareena, the women in the Kapoor clan didn’t work in films (both Babita and Neetu Kapoor stopped after they wed into the family). But Shashi’s wife Jennifer Kendal did continue to do films after marriage — right until she passed away in 1984. Shashi and Jennifer’s daughter Sanjana made her own big screen debut in 1981, in 36 Chowringhee Lane (she previously had a small role in her father’s 1978 film Junoon as well). Karisma Kapoor’s Prem Qaidi came over  a decade later.

Shashi Kapoor’s onscreen depictions of intimacy could sometimes be problematic. There was an ambivalence to it… take for instance, the scene depicting his wedding night with Rakhee in Kabhie Kabhie: Vijay is oblivious to Pooja’s tears as he undresses her.

Or the scene from Aa Gale Lag Ja, in which Prem (Shashi Kapoor) sleeps with Preeti (Sharmila Tagore) to share his body warmth and save her from hypothermia. The conversation around consent having progressed considerably today, such a depiction wouldn’t have passed muster in contemporary times. Shashi, however, managed to perform the scene without making it a bit sleazy.

Oddly enough, he managed to champion feminism even in films where the script made him something of an anti-hero. Witness for instance, this part in Satyam Shivam Sundaram, where Rajeev (Shashi Kapoor) makes love to his enigmatic mistress, unaware that she is the wife, Roopa (Zeenat Aman), he has scorned for her scarred face. By film’s end of course, Rajeev realises the injustice he has perpetrated on his wife, and his own shallowness.

I recently chatted with film historian Praveish Vishwanath, who gave me a few insights into Shashi Kapoor’s life and career. On Shashi’s romance with Jennifer Kendal, Vishwanath said, “It was his suave cosmopolitanism that saw him get close to the Kendals, who also shared his passion for Shakespeare and theatre.”

Vishwanath also told me that the films Shashi chose to produce often reflected brave, if obscure choices. “Utsav (1984; which he acted in as well) was an adaptation of the Mrichakatika. The film is a culmination of his celebration of sensuality and sensitivity. You can also see the universality of his approach in the oeuvre he chose, and the film’s production values.”

There is no doubt that Shashi Kapoor loved his art. If he named his theatre Prithvi, it was not just for patriarch Prithviraj Kapoor, it was also a representation of being grounded — just as Shashi was. Anyone who sips a cup of coffee at the iconic Prithvi Cafe having watched a play at the theatre must certainly take a moment to thank him, and Jennifer Kendal, for founding this space.

Great actors never die. The art they create lives on, perfectly encapsulating the time and the concerns of the age they lived in. While growing-up-me may have been drawn to Shashi Kapoor for his good looks, grown-up-me salutes him for having the courage to blaze his own trail.

Balbir Prithviraj Kapoor aka Shashi Kapoor, you will live forever.


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Priya Prakash Varrier’s viral video allegedly plagiarised from Malayalam film Kidu, claims director Majeed Abu

With enormous fame came its perils. Priya Prakash Varrier, who became the internet sensation after her wink video went viral, laded in multiple controversies. It is now being claimed that the video of ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’ from her upcoming release Oru Adaar Love, featuring Roshan Abdul Rahoof opposite Priya, has been copied from a Malayalam film titled Kidu.

Priya Prakash Varrier in a still from Oru Adaar Love. YouTube

Priya Prakash Varrier in a still from Oru Adaar Love. YouTube

India TV reports that the director of Kidu, Majeed Abu, has a similar scene in his film featuring a class room love story. He recently left a video message where he said the sequence was lifted from his movie.

Sabu posted a video message on Facebook where he explained his version.

While the Kidu maker put forth his claims, there were a few who claimed Kidu copied it from Oru Adaar Love. However, the director in reply stated, “After watching the song from my film Kidu, many have been saying that it has been copied from Oru Adaar Love. It’s not right. Achu Vijayan is the editor of Kidu and Oru Adaar Love. My film’s shooting was completed on November 25 (2017) and in January first week, the editing was done.”

“It is only after finishing our film, Achu Vijayan started to work on Oru Adaar Love. That song was also shot after this. So, we are the ones who should accuse them (Oru Adaar Love makers) of copying it from us. We don’t have any intentions of copying from others,” he said.

“Many asked me why I didn’t take action? I don’t want that. We don’t want to make a big issue because out of this. There could be some similarities between the two films. Even our life is like that we have so many similarities with others,” Sabu further added.

Published Date: Feb 21, 2018 11:44 AM | Updated Date: Feb 21, 2018 11:44 AM

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SC quashes FIR against Priya Prakash Varrier; asks Telangana govt to not entertain complaints about song

The Supreme Court today, ie 21 February, heard a plea filed by Malayalam actress Priya Prakash Varrier and issued a stay on the complaint filed against her and the makers of Oru Adaar Love. According to a tweet by Times Now, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud sent out a message to the fringe groups demanding a ban on the song ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi‘ from the film.

Priya Prakash Varrier in a still from Oru Adaar Love. YouTube

Priya Prakash Varrier in a still from Oru Adaar Love. YouTube

The film had landed into troubled waters after a spate of complaints and FIRs were filed against the makers and the actress for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community. The apex court also asked the state governments of Maharashtra and Telangana to not entertain any complaints against the makers regarding the contents of the song. Varrier had then sought the apex court’s intervention, stating that the complaints are an attack on Freedom of Expression and Speech.

The first complaint was filed by Muqeeth Khan and alleged that the lyrics of the song insult Prophet Muhammad when translated to English. This was followed with a letter written by the controversial fringe group Raza Academy in Mumbai. The letter, written to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), demanded the imposition of a ban on the song.

Several reports also suggested that the premier organisation for Islamic laws, Darul Ifta Jamia Nizamia, issued a fatwa against the song and its lyrics.

Published Date: Feb 21, 2018 12:07 PM | Updated Date: Feb 21, 2018 12:07 PM

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Black Panther: Move over Iron Man, Bruce Banner; fans demand spin-off on gizmo genius Shuri’s character

Marvel’s latest Black Panther has been garnering praise all over, with even Michelle Obama and Serena Williams declaring their love for the first black superhero-led franchise in the MCU. But the internet has taken to showering extraordinary love to a female character from the blockbuster the young 16-year-old princess of Wakanda, Shuri, played by Letitia Wright.

in a still from Black Panther. YouTube

Letitia Wright in a still from Black Panther. YouTube

Shuri is the tech genius behind her elder brother T’Challa and his Black Panther wizardry, through her innovative use of Vibranium to build a technologically advanced Wakanda. The character is receiving widespread praise for her intelligent and mince-no-words attitude, as the gadget genius everyone has been waiting for, or proclaiming her as Marvel’s most promising character in ages.

Her superiority to the other two tech geniuses in the marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark aka Iron Man and Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, has got audiences and reviewers excited, as a much needed addition to the Avengers when they take on super villain Thanos in the upcoming Infinity War.

Fans have stormed twitter with outright show of affection for the character.

A fan-made movie poster with Shuri as the Black Panther was also circulated with accompanying tweets.

I grew up seeing so many stereotypes on TV and I didn’t want to play that as well. This moment right now is years of prayer that’s coming together to play such a character that … hopefully a lot of people can be inspired by. So for me it’s a dream come true really. It’s something positive in the world, and that’s the type of person I am. It doesn’t necessarily mean that that character is not flawed, But with this film, it can spark the brain of another kid that loves technology and loves science and lets them see that that’s really cool and encourage them to create the next gadget that’s going to help cure a disease or something. I’m proud to be a young black girl doing this, but also as much as this is for young black women to be inspired, (it’s for) all women of all ethnicities, of all races to be inspired. And young boys too, young men too from all walks of life to be inspired by this film,said Wright, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Published Date: Feb 21, 2018 12:08 PM | Updated Date: Feb 21, 2018 12:08 PM


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