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‘My father always wanted to be an actor, not a superstar’

The special retrospective at the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) honours Shashi Kapoor, the recipient of this year’s Dadasaheb Phalke award. Eight films spanning three decades of his career give film viewers a peek into the different shades of this versatile actor, who at one time was the heart throb of the film industry. His son Kunal Kapoor was present at the inauguration of the retrospective. In conversation with NT BUZZ he talks about Shashi Kapoor, their connection with Goa and, most importantly, how it would have been better had his father been given the award when he was physically active and working
Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ

Q: What was it like growing up in a filmy family?
It wasn’t a filmy family at all. We grew up outside the film industry and dad never combined the two. Dad would always try to coincide his outdoor shoots with our school holidays so that we could be together. He made huge efforts to keep the family a family – pure and untainted. We had no attitude from the stardom or fame. It didn’t bother us at all and we never allowed it to enter our house.

Q: We all know how he charmed his audience. How was he as a father?
My father always wanted to be an actor, not a superstar. He and my mom ate, lived and breathed cinema and theatre. He was great fun as a father, but strict when it came to discipline, but he was not a dictator. He always wanted us to complete what we took up. He was sensible and taught us how to take our own decisions, encouraging us to grow on our own.

Q: You’ll have a very old connection with Goa. Can you recall some memories?
We came to Goa for the first time in 1970 during the Diwali holidays and stayed at Hotel Mandovi. I would wake up early each morning and buy sweet bread from the bakers outside the ferry wharf. We went to Baga and fell in love with that place. Later we rented a house and celebrated New Year in Goa, without electricity and water. This then became our home and we came here regularly.
Q: Do you believe that the Padma Bhushan conferred on him in 2011 and the Dada Saheb Phalke award this year were given too late?
That’s one of the reasons why my parents never really supported or believed in awards as there is always controversy surrounding them. It’s whether that person really deserved the award or whether there were other people who were more deserving, whether the person is too old or young, these questions always come up and it mars the entire objective behind the award. Both my parents never held any awards important. According to him these awards didn’t mean the recipient was the best, rather he looked at awards as something given out of tremendous respect.
Personally I can and will say that it would have been nicer if he had received the award a few years ago, when he was in better physical health and would have appreciated it more; not that he doesn’t. It would have been nicer if it was given to him when he was still working. He hasn’t been professionally active for the last fourteen years. But it doesn’t take away the fact that his work was appreciated – though better late than never.
Q: Had your father Shashi Kapoor been an actor, director and producer in the present day what regrets would he have had?
I don’t think he would have had any. The film industry just has strange ways which is a lot like what it was in the early 60s when he joined the industry. Commercial cinema today has better quality in terms of casting, editing, etc. I think somewhere in the 80s our cinema went into the ludicrous cuckoo land. I think he would have been excited as there are both commercial as well as growing independent films being made with the rise of multiplexes, etc.

Q: How unsuccessful was Shashi Kapoor as a businessman?
Oh! He was terrible. He had opened a distribution company and Raj Kapoor had released Mera Naam Joker, which was huge commercial disaster. Thus no one was willing to pick up Bobby, which was his next film. So dad bought it and till date he has made no money out of that film. How can you not make money off a cult film like Bobby? But, that was dad, a bad business man.

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