Amitabh Bachchan once regaled us with a story of how Shashi Kapoor exacted discipline by means of a stick on the sets of Ajooba, which he directed. Today, his reminiscences of an old friend and colleague are far less joyful. Shashi Kapoor died in Mumbai's Kokilaben Ambani Hospital on Monday. He was 79 and had been on dialysis for a kidney ailment. Amitabh Bachchan, with whom the late actor starred in 12-odd films, was among the last to post a tribute to Shashi Kapoor - his blog, which he tweeted with the title 'To Shashiji from your babbua,' gives us a clue why. Amitabh Bachchan did not go to the hospital when told of his friend's death, just as he didn't visit him more than once when he was alive and in hospital - he couldn't bear to, Mr Bachchan explained, because he wanted to preserve the memory of Shashi Kapoor as he had once been.
- "He fondly addressed me as 'babbua'," wrote Amitabh Bachchan
- Which explains his blog titled: 'To Shashiji from your babbua'
- "With him, gone many incredible unread chapters of his life," wrote Big B
And he had once been the most impressive of men, Amitabh Bachchan wrote: "Shashi Kapoor!" was what one heard as he extended a warm soft hand out to you in introduction ; that devastating smile complimenting the twinkle in his eyes. He needn't have done so. Every one knew him. But this was his infectious humble self".
The self-introduction was one of two things Mr Bachchan learnt and adopted from Mr Kapoor. "I must admit... it was a technology that remained with me as a learning, assisting me in using it during those uncomfortable times, when out of the blue someone would come out to you and address himself as a long lost buddy," added Amitabh Bachchan.
The second thing was Shashi Kapoor's hairdo, which he wore long over the ears. Mr Bachchan reveals that he got his barber to copy the look.
Sometime in the Sixties, Amitabh Bachchan, then a struggling actor, saw Shashi Kapoor in a magazine - Raj and Shammi Kapoor's younger brother was to make his debut soon, the caption said. "With men like him around, I stood no chance," Mr Bachchan wrote.
Nevertheless, the two actors met, worked together and were adored by fans for films such as Deewar, Namak Halal and Kabhi Kabhie.
Shashi Kapoor wore his matinee idol looks lightly. As Amitabh Bachchan writes, he let himself go after the death of his wife Jennifer Kendal. The last years of his life were confined to a wheelchair. Two years ago, Shashi Kapoor made one of his rare appearances to receive the Dadasaheb Phalke Award - Amitabh Bachchan spoke at a ceremony organised by the Kapoors.
But he didn't go to the hospital on Monday evening after Shashi Kapoor died, though he did visit the family residence later with son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya. Amitabh Bachchan is usually the first to arrive on such occasions and cut an interview short when Vinod Khanna died earlier this year.
His blog explains: "I had visited him on occasion in hospital during some of the times he had been hospitalised earlier .. but I never went to see him again .. I would never have .. I never ever wanted to see this beautiful friend and 'samdhi' in the state I saw him in hospital .... and I did not today, when they informed me that he had gone."
"He fondly addressed me as 'babbua' .. and with him have gone many incredible unread chapters of his and my life." To Shashi Kapoor, from Amitabh Bachchan.
Shashi Kapoor is survived by his sons Karan and Kunal and daughter Sanjana Kapoor. His funeral is scheduled for today.