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HomeThePrint ProfileCelebrating Shammi Kapoor, India’s Elvis Presley, through song and dance

Celebrating Shammi Kapoor, India’s Elvis Presley, through song and dance

The 1960s were dominated by Shammi Kapoor’s unparalleled energy, unique dancing style and the legendary songs filmed on him.

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New Delhi: The Kapoor family has given Bollywood some of its biggest stars, and while they are all memorable in their own way, it provokes a different kind of nostalgia when Shammi Kapoor’s name is mentioned. He seemed to have a different kind of influence with his unparalleled energy which could liven up any film. Limber, loose and complete with a signature head bob, Shammi’s dance moves were inimitable.

Despite being the son of Prithviraj Kapoor, Shammi had to struggle — unlike other star kids — at the beginning of his career in films. Debuting with Jeevan Jyoti in 1953, which did not do well, the actor failed to even get noticed in the next few years.

It was not until Dil Deke Dekho (directed by Nasir Hussain) in 1959 that he gained fame as a romantic comedy hero. So also began the age of Shammi Kapoor — aka the 1960s — with a slew of hits like Junglee (1961), China Town (1962), Bluffmaster (1963), Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), and Teesri Manzil (1966).

These films were huge hits, and part of the reason they are still memorable is their music. Shammi’s films were known for the foot-tapping numbers and easy lyrics, which were coupled with their unique choreography — some of which were his own.

He worked with Bollywood’s most legendary composers and singers such as O.P. Nayyar, R.D. Burman, Shankar Jaikishan, Mohammed Rafi and more. On his 8th death anniversary, here is a look at Shammi Kapoor’s career through some of his most famous songs.

Also read: Politicians must watch Shammi Kapoor’s Tumse Achha Kaun Hai to appreciate India’s diversity

The Elvis Presley of India

To start with, there was the Dil Deke Dekho title song, which had Shammi in a white tuxedo and playing the drums at a party — something he did in a lot of other songs too, given his musical inclinations.

Then came Junglee, with the famous song Chahe Koi Mujhe Janglee Kahe that starts with a super-energetic, “Yahoo!” The energy that Shammi displayed while dancing, singing and leaping around in this song earned him the moniker, ‘Elvis Presley of India’.

The same film also had the song Ayya Ya Karoon Main Kya, in which Shammi shows off his comic timing and loose-limbed moves — in a gold tux jacket.

China Town had many hit songs too, including Baar Baar Dekho, where Shammi sings, dances and plays the guitar convincingly — a rare feat in Bollywood, even today.

It also had Yamma Yamma Yamma where Helen steals the show but a tipsy Shammi’s addition takes the song to another level. It also shows Helen to be one of the few actors who could match up to Shammi’s dance skills and energy.

Bluff Master saw Shammi shake a leg like a true-blue Mumbaikar to Govinda Aala Re Aala on the streets .

A decade of hits

One of his most famous films was Kashmir Ki Kali, which is as popular for its music as it is for its shooting in the scenic Valley. Think songs like Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra, Ishaaron Ishaaron Mein Dil Lenewale and Deewana Hua Badal composed by O.P. Nayyar and sung by Mohammed Rafi.

Perhaps his biggest hit Teesri Manzil (1966) broke all kinds of records at the box office — thanks to its music. Composed by R.D. Burman, songs of this movie are considered some of his best works and Shammi’s best dance performances. O Mere Sona Re, O Haseena Zulfonwali Jaane Jahan and Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera are still regularly seen on playlists and heard on the radio.

The same year saw another hit, Budtameez. With songs like Budtameez Kaho Ya Kaho Janwar and Apni Baahon Se, it wasn’t a surprise that this too was a big hit.

The following year, 1967, saw the release of An Evening In Paris. This one had Shammi dance across Europe, nearly perpetuating the trend of the Kapoors dancing on top of snow-capped mountains. The title song and Akele Akele Kahan Ja Rahe Ho remain favourites of many.

For Brahmachari (1968), Kapoor grooved with Mumtaz to Aaj Kal Tere Mere Pyaar Ke Charche. The song has been recreated multiple times since but nobody has come close to repeating what Shammi achieved.

Prince (1969) was another musical hit with songs like Badan Pe Sitaare and Muqabla Hum Se Na Karo.

Looking at just one decade of Shammi’s career, it is clear about the kind of stupendous impact that he has had on Bollywood and its audience. He left a mark like no other and even though many have managed to make a name as great dancers, nobody has come close to him — much like the original Elvis Presley.

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