The many loves of Shammi Kapoor


Mad about Madhubala

He met her on the sets of Rail Ka Dibba and promptly lost his heart. “I could not take my eyes off her. I was like hit by a thunderbolt,” he later confessed. Generally confidence personified, he was so nervous taking her in his arms for a scene, he would keep forgetting his lines! He believed she was fully aware of the effect she was having on him and was enjoyed it thoroughly. He could not stop gushing over her breath-taking beauty and delicacy.

Despite the fact that she was apparently romantically involved with Dilip Kumar and Premnath, he could not resist falling in love with her. It wasn’t only her beauty – although he claims that he has never seen a more beautiful woman – but her sharp intellect, maturity, poise and sensitivity that made up her allure. It was a fascination that endured though it didn’t develop.

Recommended Read: Shashi Kapoor was most handsome man I had seen: Sharmila

Nuts about Nutan
The two were childhood playmates from the time she was three and he, six. His father Prithviraj Kapoor and her mother Shobhana Samarth were good friends and the kids met often. In fact, Shammi and Nutan apparently started dating even before they started doing films together. He had even escorted her to the premiere of her debut film Nagina (1951), a premiere she herself couldn’t attend as it had an Adult rating and she was just 15 at the time! Shammi had revealed, “We had a sort of calf love going between us.” He found her ‘sensitive, aware and erudite, yet seductively feminine’. Word is he actually wanted to marry her but Shobhana’s close friend Motilal refused to allow it. The romance ended when Nutan was despatched out of reach to a finishing school in Switzerland.

Smitten by Sharmila

It was probably Sharmila Tagore’s knack for standing up to him and telling him off when he deserved it, that had Shammi smitten. He held her in high esteem and enjoyed her company immensely. Tagore had first made her film debut in Satyajit Ray’s Devi (1960) before venturing into Hindi films and debuting opposite Shammi in Shakti Samanta's Kashmir Ki Kali (1964). Their next, An Evening in Paris (1967), was also a huge hit. Decades later, she recalled their first day of shooting… “There he was, tall and handsome and, to my mind, a bit theatrical. He came up affably enough to greet me. He had a way of walking up, as if to bow and fold his hands in a Namaste. It seemed at once a curious mixture of a salutation and a mockery.”

It irritated her when he spoke trivially about his many conquests, but she recalls that he could also discuss books and writers intelligently. “I can look back and say that there has been nobody like Shammi Kapoor. His sense of music, his sense of rhythm, his comic timing and his unique performing style were just amazing. They made him stand apart. He was an original. Whatever he had done decades ago, the youngsters are doing now,” declared Tagore.

Proposing marriage to Nadia

Shammi Kapoor was notorious for falling in love all the time. In 1953, he announced that he had met the girl he wanted to settle down with. The lucky girl was Nadia Gamal, a famous belly dancer from Cairo, whom he had met in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). He gushed over how gorgeous she was and declared that he was irresistibly in love with her. He meant to marry her, even if it meant having to follow her to Egypt. Love blossomed fast and on the fourth day of meeting her, he proposed marriage and she accepted! Since she was 17 and he, 22, they decided to wait for five years. He had even escorted her to the premiere of his brother Raj Kapoor’s film at Liberty cinema, introducing her to his parents and grandparents. When she returned to Cairo, it was pretty much the end of their brief romance – five years is too long a time to stay devoted from across thousands of miles!

Serious about Mumtaz

While working opposite the cute and chirpy Mumtaz in the 1968 film Brahmachari, the inevitable happened... Shammi fell in love and even proposed marriage. Mumtaz was equally head over heels. However, their romance hit a roadblock – Mumtaz would have to quit her acting career post-marriage. The women of the Kapoor family were not permitted to continue working in films. This was not acceptable to Mumtaz and the two parted ways.