Every childhood hero takes away a little bit of one's life along with him when he dies. In the India of the 1950s and 1960s, when Indians were just learning to enjoy freedom, Shamsher Raj Kapoor or Shammi Kapoor, as he was more popularly known, became the most obvious symbol of freedom. Nearly forty years after his iconic movie "Junglee" released, it is easy to be dismissive about that yell which rose from the belly, filled the throat and then knocked your head off: "Yaaaahoooo!" It was the roar of liberation from the silly boredom of convention.
Shammi Kapoor entered the Hindi film industry when Dilip Kumar was still going strong and Rajendra Kumar was bowing out of the race for the best actor. Shammi Kapoor, who came as a breath of fresh air and became India's first youth icon with his sea-blue eyes, chocolate boys and a man with a colourful personality and an amazing sense of rhythm and dance. In a very boisterous way, Shammi Kapoor encouraged the youth to go find our voice, even if it that turned into screaming. He always seemed to promote the message to be brilliant even if it would mean being around like a fool and be authentic in a special way.
Shammi Kapoor's singing voice is Mohammed Rafi, who actually went to sing almost all his songs, which were very youthful in nature. As human beings, they seem to be miles apart from each other but the magic of crossing the bridge does the trick. In fact, it was because of the songs that Mohammed Rafi sang for Shammi which made me believe that Mohammed Rafi had a life and he could sing even cheerful songs which hinted at sex in subtle undertones. Shammi and Rafi almost resulted in the fact as important as the voice for the body. Listening to a Shammi Kapoor song today would mean instantly waking up from the seat and swaying to the rhythm of the song as easily as one could four decades ago. The indebtedness for Rafi was visibly evident when Mohammed Rafi passed away in 1980 when Shammi Kapoor remarked: "It is a sad day since I lost my voice."
Despite the fact that Shammi Kapoor started gaining weight and started hamming in the Hindi movies, he was graceful to bow out of the Hindi film industry in 1971. Though, Shammi Kapoor lifted love from familiarity and hinted sharply at sex in subtle undertones, we could simply forgive him for being India's first youth icon in the post-independence era who taught the youngsters back then to find their own voice. In his later years, he taught us to live to the fullest without a sense of regret or self-pity. In a very subtle manner, he taught us the lesson we need desperately: a colourful and youthful attitude to a situation.
Instead of mourning his demise, his life is an example of how life should be celebrated and the power of being in the now.. Truly, we lost a priceless gem in the Hindi film industry who left leaving a space which is irreparable. Tally ho, Shammiji!!