I Haven't Seen A Woman More Beautiful Than Madhubala, Said Shammi
In a long interview with BBC Hindi service, Shammi Kapoor had once said, his first wife Geeta Bali was his first and last love, but among the heroines, he hasn't seen any woman more beautiful than Madhubala.
Shammi was asked who was his most favourite co-heroine.
“By asking this, you will get me beaten even at this age. All the heroines I worked with were good, whether Saira, or Sharmila or Asha Parekh. But there was nobody more beautiful than Madhubala.
“I think I haven't seen a woman more beautiful that Madhubala. She was a superstar when I worked first with her in Rail Ka Dibba. Believe me, I used to forget my lines and just stare at her. She used to smile, which was meant to convey that I know what's happening with you. Later we became good friends. She became a source of inspiration for me.
“When I made my place in the industry, I had worked with almost all the big heroines by that time. But it didn't help me. Then I began doing films with new faces. Asha Parekh, Kalpana, Saira Bano, Sharmila Tagore. I was happy working with them.”
Q: Were any of these heroines in love with you?
A. No, it wasn't like that. Everybody was getting the opportunity to make one's career. I was happy to do my roles without any interference from any big star. I was happy doing light romantic films. For this, it was necessary that I remained free from tension.
“In our time, the best thing was : the script was written with a particular actor in mind. If the story was meant for say, Dara Singh, it was sure Dara Singh would do that role. Nowadays films begin with Amitabh, and pass through Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir. They don't write stories for any artiste any more. Rather it becomes a grand project, anybody can fit in anywhere.”
Shammi Kapoor went on to reveal how two films refused by Dev Anand were given to him and both of them became hits.
“'Yoon To Hamne Laakh Haseen dekhen Hain' song was recorded much before I made my entry to the film Tumsa Nahin Dekha. It was first offered to Dev Anand. O P Nayyar had recorded the song for him on Sahir Ludhianvi's lyrics, but Dev didn't do the film. It was given to me. By that time, I had already done two hit films with Nasir Husain. Nasir saheb then offered me Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai. Dev Anand was the original hero for this film, but after a tiff with Subodh Mukherji, I was taken as the hero and the film became a hit.
“Nasir Husain again offered me Teesri Manzil. I told him on phone that the film had already been offered to somebody else (Dev Anand). He said, no, he had a tiff with him, and offered me this film, which went on to become another hit.”
Geeta Bali, he said, was his first and last love.
“I met Geeta while shooting Coffee House in 1954. The same year, we went to Ranikhet and Nainital to shoot Rangeen Raaten. Though Geeta had no major role, she went with me, and when we returned to Mumbai after 20-21 days, I was deep in love.
Q: How did you know you were in love?
“I used to weep when I couldn't see her. To forget her, I went to my sister in Nagpur. But there too, when I used to hear Geeta's songs on radio, I used to weep. I told my mother and then fell headlong in love with Geeta. I followed her wherever she went.
“My persistent efforts paid and on August 23, 1955, Geeta agreed to marry me, but on one condition: the marriage must take place that day itself. My parents were not inthe city. I said okay. My friend Johnny Walker suggested we marry in a temple. We went to Banganga temple in Malabar Hill, it was raining. We reached there at 11:30 pm. The priest said, the temple was closed and asked us to return at 4 am. At the appointed time, we went, and the priest declared us man and wife.”