With Shammi no more, an era of rock 'n' roll in cinema ends

At a time when acting was an exercise of the facial muscles, Shammi "shimmied" in Elvis Presley style and thus the first dancing star of Bollywood was born.

A computer enthusiast, he was also one of the firsts from Bollywood to join Twitter, introducing himself to fans as a "renaissance man, retired actor and computer buff."
And such was his "joie de vivre" that even as he was on regular dialysis and wheelchair bound, the 79-year-old remained active on Twitter, inviting young actresses like Deepika Padukone for coffee via the micro-blogging website.

Shammi was born on 21 October 1931 in Mumbai but being the son of Prithviraj Kapoor and brother of "showman" Raj Kapoor, carving a niche in Bollywood was never easy for Shammi.

He was aware that comparisons will be drawn as his brother was already an established superstar and an acclaimed filmmaker. He knew that if he needed to make a mark, he should be as different from his brother as possible.

Shammi entered the film industry as a junior artiste in 1948. However, his debut in 1953 film 'Jeevan Jyoti', portrayed him as nothing more than a mere shadow of his brother Raj.
Films like 'Chor Bazaar', 'Shama Parvana', 'Hum Sab Chor Hain', 'Memsaheb' and 'Miss Coca Cola' had Shammi in a completely different get-up, especially his hairdo, his moustache, and even his on-screen antics resembled those of Raj Kapoor to a considerable extent.

It was only in 1957, with Nasir Hussain's 'Tumsa Nahin Dekha', that he finally found his style. Shammi sported a new look sans whiskers on the lines of the contemporary Hollywood greats like Elvis Presley and James Dean. He struggled to make a space against the reigning trio of Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar.

'Tumsa Nahin Dekha' was also Nasir's debut and its success prompted the pair to follow up with several hits.

One of the main highlights was film's foot-tapping music made more popular by the boisterous and easy dancing style of Shammi, which became his trademark over the years.

Incidentally, Shammi was happily married to well known actress Geeta Bali even before he became a star but his marriage didn't affect his popularity.

But unfortunately for him, Geeta passed away too soon due to illness. He later married Neela Devi Gohil from the Royal Family of Bhavnagar in Gujarat in 1969.

In 1959, the Nasir-Shammi combination delivered yet another superhit, 'Dil Deke Dekho' with Asha Parekh. Shammi never looked back after that.

He finally hit the big time in 1961 with the all-time classic, one of his most popular films till date — 'Junglee' - directed by Subodh Mukherjee.

The film also attains significance for giving him the image of 'The Yahoo Yuppie'. 'Junglee' regarded as a 'cult classic' was incidentally one of the first romantic films to be made in colour.

Shammi's persona of a fun-loving, boisterous, romantic and rebellious hero worked very well and contributed to the success of many of his movies including 'China Town', 'Dil Tera Deewana' and 'Professor'.

Aware of the kind of hysteria he generated among the youth, most of his films were hero-centric and youth-oriented.

Filmmakers would cast new heroines opposite him. Some of the prominent ladies who made their debuts against Shammi later went on to become stars like Asha Parekh, Saira Banu and Sharmila Tagore.The Nasir-Shammi combination struck gold at the box-office with murder mystery 'Teesri Manzil', one of the unforgettable films in the actor's career.
It was also one of Shammi's biggest hits. Despite his increasing weight, 'An Evening In Paris', 'Brahmachari' and 'Tumse Achha Kaun Hai' did reasonably well. One of Shammi's last films as a hero was Ramesh Sippy's 'Andaz', where he was paired opposite Hema Malini.

With time, he moved to character roles. He donned the hat of a director, making 'Manoranjan' in 1974, a film based on Irma La Douce. Two years later, he made 'Bandalbaaz'. However, both the films didn't do well at the box office.

Shammi never really bid adieu to the big screen, appearing in films time and again giving an opportunity to the next generation of stars to share screen space with him. He starred with Shah Rukh Khan in 'Chamatkar' (1992) and played Salman Khan's grandfather in 'Janam Samjha Karo' (1999).

His latest onscreen stint was a cameo in grand nephew Ranbir Kapoor's yet-to-be-released film 'Rockstar' directed by Imtiaz Ali.

His love for the cyber world was well known. Shammi was the founder and chairman of Internet Users Community of India (IUCI). He also played a major role in setting up internet organizations like the Ethical Hackers Association and maintained a website dedicated to the Kapoor family.

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