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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 

 

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Shashi Kapoor, on his 76th birthday

Shashi_Kapoor_at_Shammi_Kapoor's_prayer_meet.jpg

Call it co-incidence or destiny, but I got to meet, and shake the hand of, Shashi Kapoor, on his 76th birthday. For the last six years, I could not bring myself to meeting him because I could not bear to see him on a wheel-chair. But I did come very close to him at the service of his brother Shammi Kapoor, who passed away in 2011. I bumped into Shashi's daughter Sanjana at an event two years ago, and she re-assured me his illness was not all that bad. There was a lot of talk about paralysis and heart issues, and he could barely speak at the few public appearances he made, which led to serious concerns among his fans and admirers.

Today (18 March 2014), I was to meet an online film portal promoter to discuss content and revenue models, and he suggested Prithvi Theatre as the venue. This is the amphi-theatre shaped drama auditorium started by Shashi in the memory of his late father, Prithviraj Kapoor (died 1972), a legend in both drama and cinema, in 1978, where I too have had occasion to perform some plays, and also the odd chance to meet the man himself.

While I was chatting with my new friend, I spotted Shashi Kapoor sitting in a corner of the reputed Prithvi Cafe, on a ... wheel-chair. Seated next to him was Prayag Raj, writer and director of films and an old Prithvi Theatre veteran. Age is catching-up with Prayag too--he was using a walking stick. I held back a tear and went-up to Shashi, wished him a happy birthday and better health in the days to come. He feebly shook my hand and then kept looking at me, with his hands folded in the classic Indian tradition of Namaste. Sadly, no words. I had to wrench myself away and go back to continue my discussion with the promoter.

It has been my great fortune to work in two Shashi Kapoor starrers as an actor, Mr. Romeo and Koi Jeeta Koi Hara. The latter took over three years to shoot, and we often had spare time on the sets. On one such day, he and I sat under a tree at Filmistan Studios, in Goregaon, north Mumbai, and he narrated to me the shooting experience of Conrad Rooks' 'Siddhartha', wherein his heroine was Simi Garewal. Soon, we moved into the ramshackle studio canteen, which had broken benches as seats, and he partook the same tea that I and others did.

There are many examples of Shashi's humility and amazing memory that I can cite, but they are very personal in nature.

Shashi is the the youngest of the famous Kapoor brothers, Raj-Shammi-Shashi, who, along with Prithviraj 'Papajee' Kapoor, were known as the first family of the Hindi film industry.                                                                                                                       

Known for his boyish, innocent looks, Shashi was called 'Baba' on our sets.

ShashiBaba, I pray I see you in better health, moving around and talking freely, very soon.

Happy 76!!

 

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

India



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