Javed Akhtar, who along with his scripting partner Salim Khan in the 1970s and 80s wrote many iconic lines for actors that are repeated ad nauseam, says famous lines just happen. “Very often you write what the character has to say, unaware of the impact it will have. In Sholay there were so many lines that we wrote without knowing they’d become iconic,” reveals Javed Saab.
However Shashi Kapoor’s career’s most iconic line, “Mere paas Maa hai” did not happen by chance. Says Javed Saab, “We knew exactly the impact it would have. You see, the line doesn’t make its impact in isolation. Its resounding impact depends on Amitabh Bachchan’s lengthy diatribe that precedes Shashi Kapoor’s line. So you see there was a momentum created for Shashi Kapoor’s line by Amitabh Bachchan’s dialogues. The impact of Shashi’s four words ‘Mere paas maa hai’ was dependent on the build-up towards that line.”
Javed Saab feels Shashi Kapoor would be remembered for a lot more than just that line in Deewaar. “He was a terrific actor, seen to be sophisticated and urbane but look at how ably he played the rustic character in Jab Jab Phool Khile or an ordinary working-class man in Bimal Roy’s Char Diwari.”
More than his considerable screen presence it was his real-life persona that Shashi Kapoor would be remembered for. Says Javed Saab, “He came across as so decent, cultured and kind on screen because he was the same in real life. It’s not difficult to be courteous to people who are your social equals. But Shashi was good to everyone. On the sets he’d remember the names of every single individual from actors to spot boys. This was extremely gratifying to those sections of workers on the sets who were used to be ignored by stars. Shashi didn’t fraternize so liberally for effect. He was a genuinely generous man.”
Javed Saab feels the Kapoor family has contributed immeasurable talent to Hindi cinema. “Prithiviraj Kapoor was a stalwart and all his three sons Raj, Shammi and Shashi Kapoor carved their immortal places in Hindi cinema. The next generation gave us talent like Randhir and Rishi Kapoor. And the generation after that has yielded exceptional talent like Karisma, Kareena Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor. The Kapoor family is of extraordinary significance to our cinema. And Shashi Kapoor was a true trouper from that illustrious family.”