Bollywood legend Shashi Kapoor dies at 79

He was a member of the Kapoor dynasty and a starred in several Merchant Ivory films

Shashi Kapoor: Bollywood royalty. Kapoor died after a long ilness aged 79. Photograph:Aijaz Rahi/AP

Shashi Kapoor: Bollywood royalty. Kapoor died after a long ilness aged 79. Photograph:Aijaz Rahi/AP


Veteran actor Shashi Kapoor, a Bollywood matinee idol who starred in more than 100 films, died in Mumbai on Monday. He was 79 and had been battling a kidney ailment.

He was part of what became known as Bollywood’s first family, alongside two brothers who were also leading men: Raj, who died in 1988, and Shammi who died in 2011.

His easy charm and intense demeanour made Shashi Kapoor an instant hit with audiences. A series of films in the 1970s, including Jaanwar Aur Insaan (1972), Kabhi Kabhie (1976) and Trishna (1979), saw him become a major star alongside the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, with whom he co-starrred in Kabhi Kabhie, as well as Trishul (1978) and Kaala Patthar (1979).

Having married actor Jennifer Kendal in 1958, Kapoor became part of the Merchant Ivory stable of English-language films set in India, starring opposite Kendal in Bombay Talkie (1970) and Merchant Ivory’s 1982 hit Heat and Dust. He also appeared with his sister-in-law Felicity Kendal in 1965’s Shakespeare Wallah.

Kapoor also set up Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre, synonymous with experimental and avant-garde theatre in India. His daughter Sanjana now runs it.

Tributes to Kapoor began to pour in on Monday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind offering condolences on his death and applauding his contribution to cinema.

“Shashi Kapoor’s versatility could be seen in his movies as well as in theatre, which he promoted with great passion. His brilliant acting will be remembered for generations to come,” Modi said on Twitter.

Kapoor, who made few public appearances, was last seen in 2015 at an event where he received the Dadasaheb Phalke award, India’s highest honour for cinema.

Kapoor, a three-time winner at India’s National Film Awards, is survived by his three children. His wife, Jennifer Kendal, died in 1984. – Reuters, Guardian Service