Why it's worth making a song and dance about Shammi Kapoor and Govinda
The two Bollywood actors put in a lot of sweat to become such great entertainers.
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The Hindi film industry, or Bollywood, has been full of great artists, actors and filmmakers. The names of great showman like Raj Kapoor, great artists like Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Dev Anand immediately come to our mind. But talk about entertainers and we are at a loss.
Entertainers are people who make you happy and light-hearted after the movie and give a feel good feeling. Their films and stories do not have much cerebral content and you have to often leave your brain at home to enjoy their films and stories. But it would be churlish to look down on them since they have been great entertainers who have taken their work very seriously.
I can think of two such great entertainers. The first one is Shammi Kapoor.
Shammi Kapoor in Janwar.
Shammi Kapoor, the son of legendary actor Prithviraj Kapoor and younger brother of Raj Kapoor, charted a very different path for himself in the Hindi film industry. He started in early 1950s as a serious actor in social films, as was the trend then. He met with repeated reversals and flops and soon started acting in heroine-dominated films. His first success came in a light-hearted romantic drama Tumsa Nahi Dekha with actress Ameeta.
His next big hit was a similar film with Asha Parekh titled Dil Deke Dekho. The film was a resounding success. The Indian film audience was changing. The heady idealism of 1950s soon after independence was slowly being pushed back and people wanted fun and entertainment. Shammi Kapoor had entered at the right time. As a film critic rightly said that Shammi Kapoor taught the nation to laugh.
There was no looking back for this great artist from late 1950s to early 1970s. There were a multitude of hits that he gave which included Junglee, Kashmir ki Kali, Rajkumar, Laat Saheb, Jaanwar, Bluffmaster, Teesri Manzil and the Brahmachari, which fetched him the Filmfare Award.
His films had mind-blowing music with the great Mohammed Rafi singing most of his songs. But his greatness lay in his dancing. He never had a choreographer, but did all the dance steps himself. With a great sense of music and energetic dance moves, he became a legend. People called him the Elvis Presley of India. He had a comedian to support him in most of his films and the role normally would go to Rajendra Nath, his cousin.
Naseeruddin Shah, in an interview, declared that he was a fan of Shammi Kapoor. "He had a style no one has been able to match, be it the way he danced or the stylish clothes he wore. He would remind me of James Dean and I would wonder what on earth he was doing here!"
Such was the great entertainer who made the audience forget all their troubles for three hours and gave them undiluted entertainment.
Govinda with Shakti Kapoor in Raja Babu
The other great entertainer I can think of is Govinda. His career path was quite similar to that of Shammi Kapoor. He also began with serious films in the mid-1980s. He acted in serious social films and suspense thrillers. His talent for comedy was first noticed in David Dhawan-directed Shola Aur Shabnam. His first big break came in Aankhen, a film with Chunky Pandey. There was no looking back for this talented artist after this.
Throughout the 1990s, he, along with David Dhawan, gave superhits. His films which became superhits included Raja Babu, Coolie No 1, Hero No 1, Deewana Mastana, Dulhe Raja, Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan, Anari No 1, Haseena Maan Jayegi, Joru Ka Ghulam, Jodi No 1 and Partner.
He's a great dancer like Shammi Kapoor and has a great sense of music. Amitabh Bachchan, who acted with him in Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan, confessed that he was nervous while dancing with Govinda. Govinda also had a great sense of comedy and his facial expressions only added to the fun. He was normally accompanied by Kader Khan or Shakti Kapoor in most of his comedies.
Entertaining is hard work. These two artists put in a lot of sweat to become such great entertainers. We learnt to laugh and forget all our troubles for a brief while as they regaled us with some great music, dancing and some light-hearted acting and stories. We, however, talk in awe of great artists like Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan et al who have given us great films and great memories.
But let us not forget these entertainers who have given us so much joy, mirth and laughter. Their contribution has been no less.