Shashi Kapoor who turned 75 recently talks about his films, productions, performances and co-actors

The dashing Shashi Kapoor turned 75 on March 18. And, the actor, who's considered one of the most romantic heroes of Indian films, says he has no regrets in life. “You know, I was the initial choice of Hrishikesh Mukherjee to perform the character of Anand (in the film “Anand”). When I went to shoot on the first day, I was informed Rajesh Khanna had been signed in my place. I returned them the amount they'd paid me. I have no grievances against Hrishikesh. There have been similar cases in my life, and like I said, I have no regrets.”

Natural performances

A competent actor, he is remembered for his subtle performances in “Dharm Putra”, “Jab Jab Phool Khile”, “Kalyug” and “New Delhi Times”. “I refused the National Award for Best Actor as I felt my performance in ‘Dharm Putra' was not up to the mark. I, however, received one for ‘New Delhi Times'. I always concentrated on natural performances.”

While his performances are memorable, his dance moves remain inimitable. “I was not a trained dancer. When the situation demanded, I rehearsed with my choreographer and performed my dance numbers. Shammi Kapoor was a better romantic actor and dancer,” he says.

Why did his productions flop in spite of being critically acclaimed? “‘Junoon', ‘36 Chowringhee Lane', ‘Kalyug' were all memorable films. They somehow failed to connect with the audience.”

Nanda, Sadhana, Sharmila Tagore, Rakhee, Shabana Azmi… Shashi Kapoor has acted opposite each of these leading actors. And, of course, the beautiful Leela Naidu.

“We (Leela and I) were pitted against each other in ‘The Householder', an Ismail Merchant film. She was a rare combination of intelligence and beauty,” he says.

He is optimistic about today's cinema. “There are bold and better experiments in films today. Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and Vidya Balan have showed a lot of promise. But, I agree with Dilip Kumar saab that there is not emotional involvement with cinema from the audience as it used to be in the 1950s and 1960s,” the yesteryear actor says.