Book review – Rauf Ahmeds Shammi Kapoor – The Game Changer

Book review - Rauf Ahmeds Shammi Kapoor - The Game Changer

The cover doesn't say much. Though those involved in putting together the book may have believed that Shammi Kapoor was looking all debonair on the cover, somehow one feels that a more flattering picture would have done better justice to the late actor. Nonetheless, as is the adage, 'never judge the book by its cover', and hence I too began to run through this 250 odd page book.

It was a mixed feeling when the last page arrived.

Where does the book work? Well, you do get to know a lot about the man – Shammi Kapoor. From that perspective, you do like what you read as one gets to delve deep into the personal and professional life of Shammi Kapoor. As a matter of fact, most of the content put together by Rauf Ahmed does quite well in letting the reader know what Shammi Kapoor was as a person. His days of uncertainty while growing up, more than a dozen flops that he gave in a row right at the beginning, the doubts that had started creeping up within him and those around him, the comparison with elder brother Raj Kapoor – you get it all.

In fact the book brings to you more than expected when it comes to the romantic rendezvous of Shammi Kapoor. His love story and marriage with Geeta Bali, his liaisons intermittently (with Mumtaz specifically) and then over four decades of bliss with his second wife Neila Devi (after the death of Geeta Bali) is all explained in great detail. In fact almost half the book goes deep down into what happened between Shammi Kapoor and his women.

That said, the kind of candidness that was recently evidenced in Shatrughan Sinha's biography Khamosh is certainly missing, more so since the subject here – Shammi Kapoor – is not here to live the tale. Hence, Rauf works in the limitation of binging facts, figures and observations basis his earlier conversations with Kapoor and the information that he gathers from the friends and family members, most notably Neila Devi herself.

In the process, you do see a few missing links, the presence of which could have otherwise boosted the book's prospects even more. For example, you never really get to know the gravity of the love story between Shammi Kapoor and Mumtaz. It comes across as rather casual, even when Mumtaz's quotes appear in the book towards the end. The biggest gap though is the complete absence of any information whatsoever on the kind of relationship that Shammi Kapoor shared with his brothers Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor, especially former.

Considering the fact that Kapoors are the First Family of Bollywood, one would have expected to hear a lot more about how Shammi Kapoor interacted with dad Prithviraj Kapoor and his brothers. However, except for a cursory mention or two, this is conspicuous by its absence. Yes, he certainly had a good equation with sister-in-law Krishna Raj Kapoor and that does turn out to be a running thread right through the book, especially around the time when Shammi Kapoor was mourning from the loss of Geeta Bali and had headed towards booze and women.

Still, leaving aside these pointers, the fact remains that the book becomes more interesting after reaching the mid-point. There is certain connect that Rauf Ahmed manages to establish between his readers and Shammi Kapoor, which allows one to start seeing the actor's life more closely. Now if only the detailing would have been deeper and more people from the inner and outer circle of Shammi Kapoor brought into the equation, the book would have turned out to be a definitive guide on Shammi Kapoor's life and times.

Price: Rs. 595/=

Rating: ***

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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