Article Hindi

How Jeetendra managed to impress V Shantaram and make his film debut

Jeetendra began his career with iconic filmmaker V Shantaram. On his 75th birthday today (7 April), we take a look at his humble yet eventful beginnings in the film industry.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Most cinema lovers remember Jeetendra as the archetypal ‘Jumping Jack’, with his whacky dance moves and signature all-white outfit complete with white shoes. But Jeetendra began his film career with the great filmmaker V Shantaram and it was quite an eventful beginning.

Jeetendra’s father, Amarnath Kapoor, used to supply artificial jewellery for films. As a young lad, Jeetendra would help deliver the jewellery to the studios.

One day, he expressed his desire to watch the shooting of a film and his father requested V Shantaram to allow him on the sets. Shantaram was very particular about visitors on his sets and suggested that Jeetendra do junior artiste roles to be on the set. The young Jeetendra was thus chosen to be a part of the song, 'Tu Chhupi Hai Kahan', in Navrang (1959), but it was not so easy.

Shantaram was very punctual and expected his entire staff to be particular about timing as well. But during a shoot in Rajasthan, Jeetendra arrived late for dinner and the director was livid. He asked the production team to send Jeetendra back and the make-up man was instructed not to prepare him for the shoot the following day. Jeetendra called his father, expecting to be consoled, but his father chided him for ruining a chance to do something with his life.

So the dejected and desperate Jeetendra woke up the next morning at 4am, implored the make-up man to get him ready, and waited outside Shantaram’s room with a tearful face. The director saw him dressed for the shoot and was impressed. He decided to give him another chance and from thereon Jeetendra spared no opportunity to impress the director and was cast in his next film Sehra (1963) as actress Sandhya’s body double.

Jeetendra’s debut film as lead actor eventually came with Shantaram’s Geet Gaaya Pattharonne (1964) in which he starred as a young sculptor alongside Shantaram’s daughter, Rajshree. Here is the film's title track: