When you think of Shammi Kapoor, immediately an image of jumping and dancing Shammi Kapoor emerge in our mind. He created his own space in an era dominated by Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar. The hands-out, flamboyant, westernised Shammi Kapoor was created by Naseer Hussain from the film Tumsa Nahin Dekha in 1957
On screen, he would hang from a helicopter with one hand, romp in the snow and yodel a 'yahoo', make a Shikara look like a love boat, sing a song about a "Lal Chhadi", and serenade his leading ladies — all very convincingly, such was his inherent style. He danced his way into the hearts of millions and broke several stereotypes along the way.
There used to be many more songs in the early films and hardly any dancing. Songs had a bit of dancing: the heroine moved her hands around a little, but the actresses as such were not required to be dancers. A hero dancing was very rare. Shammi Kapoor changed the image of the Hindi film hero from sad and brooding into one who revelled in singing and dancing
Though there were Choreographers in the 50s, the arrival of the choreographers Hiralal and Sohanlal brought about a very big change, and by the 1960s they had become firmly established. They were extremely good dancers themselves because they were trained in classical dancing. Most directors depended on them to picturise the songs and dances.
Shammi Kapoor was not a trained dancer. In his teens, he had enrolled for Tango classes, but in a week's time, he realised that dance was not something anyone could teach him. Dancing was natural to him. He was a great fan of Elvis Presley he was inspired by him and made his own steps and style.
Vijay Anand who directed him in Teesri Manzil once told that Shammi did not regard himself as a dancer, nor had he ever learnt dancing. But you played a song to him and tell him: “Go wild!” He would because he had such a tremendous sense of rhythm. He just got into the music and every fibre of his body would dance. The only thing you had to make sure was that he did not overdo it.
Music fired his personal life, too. It helped him woo his wife Geeta Bali, who was a bigger star than him. Geeta Bali and Kapoor were shooting for Rangeen Ratein (1956) in Ranikhet, a hill station in North India, when they fell in love.
Composers who worked with him have said that Kapoor took his music very seriously. His songs were – and still are – a rage. Stories abound of how he would attend all his song recordings. Mohammed Rafi adjusted his voice to match the Shammi Kapoor persona – a more youthful, delinquent and livelier voice that would complement the energetic dance style of the Junglee star.
In later years, the legend declared, “My whole career has been (about) singing. I have no pretensions of being a great actor. I have sung my songs from my heart. I do not know how to dance but I have given expressions to my songs.”
Shammi Kapoor who was born on 21st Oct 19 1931, passed away on August 14, 2011, his work remained as entertaining as ever.