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.
Shammi 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?