Shammi Kapoor's unforgettable affair with Kashmir

Whether it was "Tumse Achha Kaun Hai", "Andaz", "Kashmir Ki Kali" or "Junglee" - almost all his blockbusters were shot in the Valley. Little wonder then that Shammi Kapoor has been a household name in Kashmir for decades.

Reminscing about the shooting of "Kashmir Ki Kali", Abdul Samad Sheikh, 70, who lives in north Kashmir's Ganderbal district, said: "I remember when he was shooting for 'Kashmir Ki Kali' in the Sindh Valley. He drove a car during a song sequence for the film. We gathered on the two sides of the road to have a glimpse of our dear film star.

"The director was annoyed because he did not want anyone other than the actor in the frame. Shammi Kapoor stopped the car, sat with us on grass for some time and then asked us whether he can go on with the shooting. We immediately withdrew to clear the shot for the director."

Abdul Aziz described Shammi Kapoor, who died Sunday after a proglonged illness in Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital, as a good-hearted person.

"Although a rebel on the silver screen, Shammi Kapoor was a lovely gentleman at heart. He would stay at the Oberoi Hotels in Srinagar, but I remember him come early in the morning for his choice breakfast of Chola Puri to a famous sweetmeat shop on the Residency Road in Srinagar. He would sign autographs, laugh and even sing for the customers," he said.

Nazir Ahmad's father was a gatekeeper at one of the cinema halls in Srinagar city where many of Shammiji's movies were screened during mid- and late 1960s.
"My father used to say that every Shammi Kapoor movie ran houseful.

"He also said that as an employee of the cinema hall where Shammi Kapoor's movies would run for weeks without end, he would enjoy every song and special mannerisms of the actor which were a craze among youth those days.

"Actors like him are rarely born. My father fondly recalled when Shammiji once came at 11 p.m. in the night to see some scenes from 'Junglee' which were being screened in the cinema hall where he used to work. There had been a stampede when people heard Shammi Kapoor had entered the balcony," Ahmad told IANS.

Almost all his famous movies had a song sequence shot on the Dal Lake and many boatmen still remember how Shammi Kapoor showed them respect when they rowed his boat.

"He was so famous that it was a privilege to be selected as his boatman. My father told me he once fell into the waters of the lake during a song sequence. Heavy with wet clothes, Shammi Kapoor had to be virtually dragged out of the water.

"My father would proudly tell me how he helped the great actor to safety," said Abdul Salam, 52, who still works as a boatman in Dal Lake in the tradition of his father.

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