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To Shashiji from your babbua: Amitabh Bachchan mourns Shashi Kapoor's loss

The actor, who shared a memorable part of his career with Shashi Kapoor, wrote about the geniality, kindness, and lessons learnt from his late Deewaar (1975) co-star. 

Shriram Iyengar

Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor were co-stars in some of the most iconic moments in Hindi cinema history. Bachchan wrote a long blog post on Monday speaking about the joy and experiences of working with Shashi through his career. Shashi passed away on Monday evening (4 December) at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital in Mumbai. He was 79. 

Shashi is the son of the legendary film and stage actor Prithviraj Kapoor and younger brother of Hindi cinema stalwarts Raj and Shammi Kapoor.

In a blog that he tweeted with the heading 'To Shashiji from your 'babbua', Bachchan paid tribute to his co-star from iconic films like Deewaar (1975), Kabhi Kabhie (1976) and Trishul (1978) which are among the 12 films they did together. Once the closest of friends, the veteran also explained his reasons for not visiting the ailing Shashi at the hospital saying he wished to preserve his friend's memory as he remembered him. 

Praising his genial nature and gentlemanly courtesy, Bachchan said he learnt the art of introducing oneself from Shashi. He wrote '“Shashi Kapoor!” was what one heard as he extended a warm soft hand out to you in introduction; that devastating smile complimenting the twinkle in his eyes. He needn’t have done so. Every one knew him. But this was his infectious humble self.'

The actor went on to suggest this was a trick he imbibed and continues to apply himself when meeting people. 'It was a technology that remained with me as a learning, assisting me in using it during those uncomfortable times, when out of the blue someone would come out to you and address himself as a long lost buddy.'

The actor also credited his late Deewaar (1975) co-star with the origin of his iconic hairstyle. Bachchan wrote, 'The next .. was his semi curly hair on head, falling carelessly over his forehead and ears, not quite covering it.' Bachchan said that soon he had decided on trying out the same style, adding 'it remained till date'. 

Bachchan, who despite regularly being billed above Shashi in the 1970s, made his debut much later. In fact, he admits that the sight of Shashi's matinee idol looks often evoked fear for his own career. Describing the feeling in his blog, he writes, 'And I said to myself, as very uncertain thoughts raced through my mind of wanting to become a film actor, that, with men like him around, I stood no chance at all.' 

This did not stop the two actors from collaborating together in films that mark milestones in their careers. However, as Shashi's health declined, along with his public appearances, their meetings were far and few between. One of the more public meetings was at Shashi's Dadasaheb Phalke Award presentation, where Bachchan spoke about their long friendship. In his blog, he revealed that Shashi would address him fondly as 'babbua'. 

However, Bachchan explained his reasons for not visiting the ailing Shashi in hospital to preserve his memory as he had lived. 

The actor wrote 'I never ever wanted to see this beautiful friend and ‘samdhi’ in the state I saw him in hospital ... and I did not today, when they informed me that he had gone.' 

Bachchan concludes the blog by saying the death of Shashi brings to an end 'many incredible unread chapters of his and my life.' 

Shashi's funeral is expected to be held today at the Santa Cruz crematorium in Santa Cruz, Mumbai.