A moustache was shaved off, and a superstar was born

A facial makeover, at most, can guarantee a few turning heads, but an almost seemingly inconsequential order to shave off his pencil-thin moustache turned Shammi Kapoor’s life upside down, albeit in a good way. The film was Tumsa Nahi Dekha. Ok, so I am exaggerating, it wasn’t just the end of the mustachioed Shammi that (hair)alded the “rebel’s” success.  By the way, the term “rebel star” was coined by Bunny Reuben – a famous film historian, journalist, publicist, producer and god-knows-what-else-not.

AmeetaShammi wasn’t the sensation (at the time) he later went on to become with this film. In fact, he wasn’t even the first choice – Dev Anand was. But the latter walked out of the film, supposedly because of Ameeta, the actress who was being launched as a lead for the first time. In fact, they say it was she who was to be catapulted into limelight with this film and that the film makers even concentrated a lot of publicity around her, and not Shammi. Ironical.

Well, Shammi should (and he must have) thank producer Shasadhar Mukherjee who in turn suggested director Nasir Hussain to pick him AND slide that mooch right off his face, keeping in mind the character.

Anuradha very graciously let me post this absolutely LAST bit of mooch-related trivia! Evidently Nasir wasn’t enthusiastic about taking Shammi.

“That mustachioed, long-haired sissy?” he is reputed to have said. Mukherjee persisted. “Shave off his moustache, give the guy a haircut and then see…”

Long-haired sissy, hahahaha! When I read this, I couldn’t stop laughing!! Thanks Anuradha! Ok, I think I have delved enough on Shammi’s mooch. By the by, it wasn’t just Dev Anand you stomped out of the film; Sahir Ludhianvi, who was the lyricist and had composed the title song, also walked out and in came Majrooh Sultanpuri.

In an interview I read in Hindu, Shammi talks about what he would’ve done had he not been offered this role.

“Perhaps I would have landed the job of the manager of some tea estate in Assam, riding a horse with a whip in hand and a flask of scotch in my hip pocket. That is what I had promised Geeta (wife Geeta Bali) if I did not make it as an actor. Remarkably, she had said yes.”
I suddenly love Geeta Bali.

A funny tidbit:  Shammi Kapoor had dared to complain about a small paycheque, for which he was given a resounding slap!! “Forget the money, and do the role. It is meant for you,” Mukherjee reportedly said to him. Boy, Shammi sure didn’t have it easy. :-\ But it did him a whole lot of good, eh?

24 thoughts on “A moustache was shaved off, and a superstar was born

    • Umm, shouldn’t you give Anuradha the credit for the title too? I realise she has commented below and has graciously not said anything, but this is what she had written on her post from which you quoted the trivia about Tumsa Nahin Dekha.

      S Mukherjee persisted. “Shave off his moustache, give the guy a haircut and then see…”. And so Shammi promptly did both.
      Nasir gave in, and a superhit and a superstar were born. And thus began another successful collaboration that was to give us many, many musicals.

      (Emphasis mine.)

      • Thanks Ruhi, I will take your advice, so here goes Anuradha, it’s not just the trivia that is dedicated to you, but the complete post.

        Btw, it’s not a superstar WERE born, but WAS born 🙂
        P.S: Didn’t understand the last comment.

      • Oh, and Anuradha, thanks for the inspiration of the title too. I realized later it was exactly what you wrote but the intention wasn’t to copy it; I hope you believe me! 🙂

      • Neha,

        Thanks for the sarcasm. I am perfectly aware of the difference between a ‘superstar *was* born’ and ‘a superstar were born’.

        But if you realise, ‘were’ is absolutely correct in the sentence below.

        The whole sentence read ‘… a superhit and a superstar were born.”

        I was only highlighting the relevant parts of what she wrote and what you used as your title.

        And the ‘Emphasis mine’ was because the original quote did not have those particular phrases in bold italics.

        I do not know if Anuradha would care if you dedicated the whole post to her or not; I certainly don’t. However, I work mainly in the field of protecting academic copyright, and this was a red flag.

        As your response suggests, you are not particularly bothered where you get your inspiration from. Nor how you respond when you are called out on a particularly egregious form of plagiarism. In the larger scheme of things, it is of no importance, and my original intention was only to point out that it would be good to acknowledge sources; in academia and we are taught to be very particular about doing so. Your response to my suggestion (NOT an accusation) was sarcastic and an attempt at a hollow apology.

        I submit that you think about how you would feel if something that you worked very hard at, was used by someone else without permission, without due credit, and then brushed off as something unimportant.

        Good Day.

      • Neha, thanks for the shout-out to me; I really hadn’t paid attention, and am not sure how I would have felt if I had. As it stands, I will accept that you acted in good faith and had no intention of lifting what I wrote – especially since this post came many days after mine.

        However, your response to Ruhi’s comment disturbed me. I didn’t read it as particularly impolite, so I wonder why you responded so defensively. Your later comment that was addressed to me would have been restitution enough.

        However, I think this issue has been dragged on long enough, and entered areas which neither Ruhi nor you intended, so let’s leave it as it stands, please?

        We are all blogging here about interests that are passionate to each of us, and they are bound to intermingle.

      • Please forgive me for butting in, but after Shammi’s demise the press was full of this story all over in about the same words – ‘a star was born’ – ‘shaved off his moustache’.

        If you google you’ll find these two sentences occur in a whole lot of articles.

      • Thanks Anu, I admit I was rude. And i am sorry I acted defensively, but I did it only because her post struck to me as impolite. Maybe it’s just me.
        Good heavens@pacifist! If I had known that title was EVERYWHERE i would have made sure I didn’t write it, after all, I wanted it to be original 😦 But I guess it’s not..
        All right, issue done and over with. I apologize to everyone for this unpleasantness. (absolutely no sarcasm here)

      • Neha, really. No apologies needed, not to me at least.
        Issue was never existent as far as I was concerned. It didn’t strike me as something that would eat up so much bandwidth! Life’s too short to get anal about something so silly.

        I enjoy reading your trivia about songs; I think it’s a cool way to introduce songs – not just the context in the movie, but some background from real life.

        ps: And I did appreciate your letting me know via a comment on my site. So, thanks. 🙂

  1. I have been watching some of Shammi’s postings on Youotube in the Shammi Unplugged series – and am totally blown away as to down to earth the man was!! Shammi Kapoor did not have easy but when he did his jig anf flicked his lccks he was Adonis personified!!

  2. Neha, thanks for the credit 🙂 It’s so sweet of you.
    Actually, watching Shammi Kapoor Unplugged is one of the joys of the Internet age. It’s so nice to hear him reminisce about his heyday, and his costars and films; so many, so many unknown tidbits are lovingly brought out into the light of the day. Especially the one about how he fell in love with Geeta Bali – they were shooting for a movie, and had gone out for a drive in the night when they saw a tiger in the middle of the road. And Geeta jumped out of the jeep, clambered on to the bonnet, and jumped up and down excitedly asking Shammi to shoot it – he says he forgot all about the tiger and his rifle and decided at that very moment that she was the girl he wanted to make his wife.

  3. It is surprising to know that Dev Saab was the original choice. Headline is indeed catchy which forced me to read the blog right away. Thanks Neha

    I would like to see you writing on Teesri Kasam (Raj Kapoor) and Dastak (Sanjeev Kumar)

  4. Ruhi,

    Your comment wasn’t exactly polite so I wasn’t inclined to leave a positive reply either. I know how plagiarism works and I do my best to make sure I credit whoever I take matter from.
    Whether or not you care for my “dedication” isn’t important to me. What’s important is that the person concerned doesn’t think that I stole from them.
    I understand your response against plagiarism but I can’t say I appreciate your tone either (even though you said it wasn’t an accusation). You can’t blame me entirely for my comment.
    Everything said and done, I will keep your advice in mind and see to it that I am very careful. I maintain that the title wasn’t meant to be a direct lift, and I have made that very clear.
    Good day to you too.

  5. Love reading any trivia about Shammi. Didn’t know about the slap, ‘ouch’. Geeta Bali was so charming…love her ‘yes’. 😀
    I had to laugh at Shammi being called a sissy.

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