Article Hindi

Shammi Kapoor’s 11 best leading man roles


On Shammi Kapoor’s 86th birth anniversary, we take a look at the romantic hero’s most memorable film roles.

Sonal Pandya

It was expected that like his father Prithviraj and brother Raj, Shammi Kapoor too would become an actor. He did a short stint at Prithvi Theatres, his father’s theatrical company. He made his debut in films with Jeewan Jyoti (1953), opposite Chand Usmani.

However, success eluded him in the form of a hit for four long years. After 17 releases including Mem Sahib (1956) where he played a grey character, a second lead to Kishore Kumar, Shammi Kapoor broke through in a big way with Nasir Husain’s Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957). His new rakish persona, a complete contrast to the images of Prithviraj and Raj, made audiences fall for him even more.

Until his last film role in Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar (2011), where he played a supporting character to his grand-nephew Ranbir Kapoor, the veteran actor loomed large onscreen. Here are a few of his films where he shone as the leading man.

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1. Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957)

Shammi Kapoor turned a huge corner with his lead role in Nasir Husain’s Tumsa Nahin Dekha opposite Ameeta. The film was designed to be a starring vehicle for Ameeta, the leading lady, a protégé of producing studio, Filmistan, but Shammi had other plans.

His charming, romantic style, coupled with the hit music of OP Nayyar and lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi and Majrooh Sultanpuri, made sure that the audiences had no choice but to gaze at this new, more fun version of the actor.

2. Dil Deke Dekho (1959)

Once again working with Nasir Husain, Shammi replicated the magic with this second feature. This time, a new actress, Asha Parekh, was introduced. The two shared a great chemistry in the future films like Teesri Manzil (1966) and Pagla Kahin Ka (1970). In Dil Deke Dekho, he easily inhabited the part of the dashing Raja, a musician and singer, who woos Parekh’s Neeta.

3. Junglee (1961)

Before his nephew Rishi made a trend of appearing with new heroines in their debut films, uncle Shammi acted opposite Saira Banu in her first film.

The film’s title song, ‘Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe’, gave him a nickname that stuck for the rest of his life. Shammi will forever be known as the ‘Yahoo’ actor. The primal, joyful cry that he utters at the beginning of the song was typical of the kinds of carefree, spontaneous characters he played in the 1960s.

4. Professor (1962)

Shammi Kapoor excelled in donning disguises to play not one but multiple characters in his films. He was not averse to dressing up in drag as well. In Lekh Tandon’s Professor, Shammi’s character Pritam is forced to disguise himself as an old man to teach the wards of a wealthy guardian Sita Devi (Lalita Pawar) to pay his mother’s medical bills. As the old professor and his charismatic nephew, Shammi was utterly delightful in Professor (1962) and earned his first Filmfare nomination for best actor.

5. China Town (1962)

In Shakti Samanta’s noirish thriller, China Town, Shammi Kapoor took on a difficult double role as lost-at-birth brothers Mike and Shekhar. The simple Shekhar is asked by the police to impersonate the gangster Mike. Juggling both diverse personalities and romancing both Shakila and Helen, Shammi was at the top of his game. Amitabh Bachchan’s 1978 Don took several storylines from this 1962 hit.

6. Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)

A picturesque setting, a lovely dimpled new actress, and yet Shammi Kapoor made his mark, through the voice of Mohammed Rafi, as the besotted Rajiv Lal, the eccentric rich son who falls in love with a simple flower girl. Shammi also had a hand in putting together the music of the film; he recommended OP Nayyar for the job.

The film is remembered for the classic 'Taarif Karoon Kya Uski' on the iconic Dal Lake, where after his death in 2011, Shammi’s ashes were immersed.

7. Rajkumar (1964)

Shammi Kapoor played the savvy crown prince in K Shankar’s Rajkumar, wherein his father Prithviraj is the king of a princely state.

The handsome Shammi was right at home as a royal, romancing a princess Sangeeta (Sadhana) and saving his kingdom from the clutches of those who wish it harm, to boot. As an actor, he had a knack of playing both the emotional and comical angles of a story with just the right amount of energy.

8. Teesri Manzil (1966)

Filming this blockbuster after the unexpected death of his beloved wife, Geeta Bali, Shammi Kapoor is extremely likeable as the drummer Anil aka Rocky. He gets ensnared in a murder mystery while falling for Sunita (Asha Parekh) who believes he is responsible for her sister’s death. The final film he made with producer Nasir Husain, who gave him his big breakthrough, Shammi was every young girl’s dream in the 1960s with his roles like that in Vijay Anand’s Teesri Manzil.

9. Brahmachari (1968)

Shammi’s emotional turn as Brahmachari won him his only Filmfare Best Actor award.

As an orphan in the film, Shammi’s character takes it upon himself to look out and take care of young orphaned children he comes across. His love for them is endearing, as is his willingness to do whatever it takes to make sure they are taken care of in Bhappi Sonie’s Brahmachari (1968).

10. Pagla Kahin Ka (1970)

He was praised for his charm, his dancing, but rarely for his acting. In Shakti Samanta’s Pagla Kahin Ka, Shammi Kapoor's character Sujit plays a victim of circumstances.

Blamed for a murder he did not commit, he is deemed insane and sent to a mental asylum for a year. After he returns ‘reformed’, he comes to find out those who betrayed him and turns insane, this time for real.

It was one of the few times, that Shammi was handed out a meaty role to play.

11. Andaz (1971)

In Ramesh Sippy’s sensitive drama, Andaz (1971), Shammi Kapoor and Hema Malini play a widower and widow, respectively, who grow close to one another. They start to begin the second stage of their lives after their partners’ deaths. Sippy’s film dealt with their second chance with a mature, respectable storyline.

For Shammi, this was the last of his leading man roles. He gradually moved on to play father figure and character roles after this.