Indian actor Shashi Kapoor died yesterday at the age of 79. He starred in numerous blockbusters throughout his career in both Bollywood and Hollywood and received awards from the film industry and the Indian government, he was adored by fans as the dashing romantic lead, but it is the message of his early work that we wish to share at The Grand Trunk Project.
His legacy will live on through Mumbai’s iconic Prithvi Theatre which he set up with his late wife, English actress Jennifer Kendal in 1979. He will also be remembered through one of the most memorable lines in Hindi Cinema, the 1975 film ‘Deewar’. Starring opposite Amitabh Bachan, Shashi Kapoor delivers the iconic line ‘Mere paas Maa hai’, which has since become a part of Indian pop culture.
His career featured numerous blockbuster hits starring in both Bollywood and Hollywood but his work in ‘Dharmputra’ one of the first films to depict Partition and religious identity should not be forgotten.
‘Dhool ka Phool’ (Flowers of Dust) released in 1959 and depicted a Muslim family raising a Hindu child who has been disowned by society as his parentage and religion is unknown. This film was followed by Shashi Kapoor’s ‘Dharmputra’, with the same production team and more importantly the same message.
Tu Hindu banega na Musalman banega, insaan ki aulaad hai, insaan banega.
You will not be a Hindu or a Muslim, you are the son of a human and you will be human
Two years after ‘Dhool ke Phool’, ‘Dharmputra’ was released in 1961 this was Shashi Kapoor’s first film in a leading role and one of the first Hindi films to depict the Partition. The storyline this time features a series of events leading to a Hindu child being raised by a Muslim family. These families were one so close that they shared a house and lived together. It was the Partition and reinforcing of religious identity that caused the turmoil between the families. Choosing a film like Dharmputra for a leading debut, was a brave choice which opened the door to important conversations. The films message of Hindu-Muslim unity, which is delivered through Shashi Kapoor (pictured below), is still relevant today.