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Cinemas today stress more on look than content: Shashi Kapoor
28th Dec 2005 09.33 IST
Yesteryears heartthrob of the silver screen, Shashi Kapoor says contemporary cinema stresses more on the ‘look’ than the content.
“Movies made in the 40s, 50s and 60s were far better than the movies made today. Today the stress is more on the look than the content of the movies. Those days most of them had good content and story line especially in English, Hindi and Bengali languages,” says the actor from the ‘first family’ of Indian cinema.
Kapoor who has acted in over 200 films including blockbusters like ‘Waqt’, Deewar , ‘Sharmili’, ‘Jab Jab Phool Khile’ says this ‘change’ is mainly because the audience, to whom these movies cater, have changed over the years.
“The audience has changed now. Movies and the music too have changed a lot though I am not sure whether it has changed for better,” he says.
Kapoor says he was ‘lucky’ to act in a number of Merchant-Ivory productions like ‘Shakespeare Wallah’, ‘The Householder’, ‘Heat And Dust’ and ‘Siddhartha’ which made him the recognised ‘cross over’ actor in India.
Remembering his long term association with the late Ismail Merchant , Kapoor says, “I don’t think any other Indian can come up to his standards. He made 50 films between 1963 and 2005 and I think it was a great achievement for me to work with him because most of his films were internationally acclaimed”
On the trend of Indian actors acting in international films he says that this trend was started in the early 40s.
“My father Prithviraj Kapoor acted in a movie ‘Raj Nartaki’ directed by Modhu Bose, which was made in Hindustani, Bengali and in English with the name Court Dancer. I started acting in such films in the 60s.
”The Householder which was distributed by the Columbia Pictures did not get the expected opening in the West. But we were not upset by the poor response then. May be because we were young and had a lot of courage to accept it positively,” says nostalgic Kapoor with his characteristic smile.
On Indian actors today working in foreign productions he says that very few are doing it and are being accepted. “I am very pleased to know that Gulshan Grover and Aishwarya Rai are getting work abroad and are being accepted there,” he said.
At the same time Kapoor is critical about Indian producers gaining ‘extra publicity’ by casting actors or using technicians from the US and the UK in their films.
“Only the rejects from Hollywood and London are heading towards India. The so-called ‘specialists’ are not as good as our people here. This is a falsity existing in Indian film industry,” he says adding, ‘producers here don’t mind to gain extra publicity by taking such people’.
Outrightly rejecting the trend of fusion in cinema and remixes in music Kapoor says, “people talk about fusion and remixes today. I think, bastardising a production is not good in any form. Be it through fusion or remixes. I don’t think this will lead us anywhere”.
Kapoor, a trained stage actor in his father’s Prithvi Theatre, says, “people have always dared to do such experimentations in theatre”. But quickly adds that he was not happy to see the ‘remixed and revamped’ version of Shakespeare’s ‘Measure For Measure’, which was recently staged at Prithvi Theatre.
In an era when many of his contemporaries are visible even more than before, Kapoor has decided to move away from the arclights. “In 1992 while I was working in ‘In Custody’ I realised that role (of a poet) was the highlight of my career. I knew I would not be able to get a project like this. So I decided to call it quits,” he says.
“Moreover I was getting old and fat because of which I was losing my breath. I wasn’t strong enough to go through the grill of working for eight hours in a day. That’s why I decided to refrain from the offers that I was getting,” he said.
Though later he acted in films like—‘Sidestreets’, ‘British Badboys’ and ‘Jinnah’ none of these was released in India.
Remembering the ‘hero’s welcome’ he received in Pakistan during his visit to Peshawar, Kapoor says, “during the production of ‘Jinnah’ I visited Peshawar, which is where my family comes from, I was given a hero’s welcome there. I was just like being in India”.
Maintaining that both the countries should forget ‘horrific things’ that happened in the past and come close he says there should be free way and free trade between India and Pakistan and it should not be restricted only to films, arts and literature.
Kapoor today devotes a considerable amount of his time to the care of cancer patients and serving and rehabilitating physically challenged people through organisations like Amar Jyoti Trust, Pratham and Care India.
“I found out that my parents were involved in serving cancer patients much before they had cancer. After their death in 1962, my wife (Jennifer Kendal) and I decided to continue it. I was fortunate enough to be born in this family. My father and brother who were in the profession showed me the way. I don’t see myself coming closer to them in any way. There is lot to do. I’m doing a little by helping handicapped people and terminally ill cancer patients. I would like to do much more,” says the actor.
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