By Atul Mishra Last Updated:
Shammi Kapoor was one of the legendary actors of the Indian cinema. From the mid-1950s and mid-1970s, he was a superstar unparalleled. His acting style and the way he brought exuberance in his characters has, even till today, not found a match.
Because of his stardom, Shammi Kapoor was linked-up with many leading ladies of the industry as is always the case with many Bollywood superstars. A lot is known about Shammi Kapoor’s filmography and his acting career, but not many know about his love life. So, let’s unravel women in Shammi Kapoor’s life:
Shammi Kapoor was born on October 21, 1931, in Mumbai to the renowned Kapoor family. His father was the legendary actor, Prithviraj Kapoor. He had two siblings- reputed film personalities, Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor.
Shammi started his acting career with the 1953 film, Jeevan Jyoti but the film didn’t run any well at the box-office. However, in 1957 came the film, Tumsa Nahin Dekha, which shot Shammi Kapoor to fame. And then, there was no looking back for the actor and he starred in numerous super-hits like Dil Deke Dekho, Singapore, Junglee, College Girl, Professor, China Town, Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, among others.
On August 14, 2011, Shammi Kapoor died due to renal failure. His last film, before his death, was Rockstar.
Nutan and Shammi Kapoor grew up together as they were neighbours to each other. It is said that Shammi was in love with Nutan right from his childhood. The two were very fond of each other and the fact that their families shared a good bond, acted as a catalyst in their relationship.
When they grew up to be teens, Shammi and Nutan decided to get married. But then, the problem crept up. Nutan’s mother, Shobhna Samarth had separated from her husband, and it was her actor-friend, Motilal on whom she could rely on opinions and suggestions. And it was Motilal who rejected Shammi and Nutan’s union. Eventually, Shobhna sent Nutan off to Switzerland for her studies and that ended a love tale which had begun in the innocent years of childhood. Later, Shammi Kapoor and Nutan acted in three films together and remained friends to each other for the lifetime.
It was in 1953, when Shammi Kapoor, along with brothers Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor went to Sri Lanka for a star-studded cricket match. One day, on his tour, Sammi went to watch a cabaret performance in his hotel itself. And that’s where he met, Nadia Gamal. Nadia was, back then, the best cabaret performer in the world, and is often thought to have invented the modern belly dancing. In one of his later interviews, Shammi Kapoor confessed:
“She was gorgeous, and I am irresistibly in love with her. She was so beautiful that I could not take my eyes off her. I was totally bonkers”.
He extended his stay in Sri Lanka for a while so that he could spend more time with Nadia. 22-year-old, Shammi could not resist one day and proposed to the 17-year-old, Nadia to marry him. In response, she said that he would have to wait for 5 years as she was very young then, and if the love remains intact, she would definitely tie the knot with him.
After the tour, Nadia and her mother went to Mumbai before finally departing to Egypt. That’s when Shammi introduced Nadia to the Kapoor family. Later in the evening, Nadia told Shammi that they must settle in Cairo after they get married in five years. He said yes, and then Nadia went to her home country and Shammi went back to his films. But, without the internet and mail, Shammi and Nadia drifted apart and lost touch with each other soon.
In 1955, Shammi met Geeta Bali on the sets of the film, film Rangeen Raatein. The shooting for the film was to take place in Kumaon, Uttarakhand. Perhaps the weather played cupid between the two, and within a few weeks, the two fell in love with each other. After Shammi and Geeta Bali returned to their homes in Mumbai, they realised they could not live without each other. But the two were very fearful of confessing their love for each other. Shammi, in an interview, once said:
“She was hesitant. I was adamant. It was four months of agony, tears, cajoling, pleading, non-togetherness, desperation…”.
It would have been the same way if Geeta would not have decided to get married suddenly. It was August 23, 1955, when sitting in a hotel room, she exclaimed:
“Let’s get married now!”.
And would you believe it? By the next morning, they were married. Immediately after Geeta Bali proposed the idea of marriage, Shammi made a few calls to his friends, who suggested that they need not waste too much time and get married soon. In the evening, Shammi and Geeta went to Banganga Temples – a famous temple complex in Mumbai but the priest asked them to come in the morning. And the next day, on August 24, 1955, Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali got married, with Hari Walia, the priest, as the only witness. Shammi once said:
“Geeta took out a tube of lipstick from her purse and asked me to apply it on her maang”.
The two later went to the Kapoor residence and took blessings from their elders, and even Geeta Bali’s parents were okay with the unison.
In 1956 and 1961, Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali became proud parents to Aditya Raj Kapoor and Kanchan Kapoor, respectively. But in January 1965, Geeta Bali fell ill on the sets of one of her films. She was diagnosed with smallpox and was admitted to a hospital for days. But on January 21, 1965, Geeta Bali departed from this world for her heavenly abode. Needless to say, Shammi Kapoor was devastated because of the loss of his wife. For many years, he had sleepless nights but the call of the moment was the fact that his young children, Aditya and Kanchan needed a mother.
Distraught by the loss of Geeta Bali, the Kapoors started searching for a potential bride for Shammi. And his sister-in-law, Krishna Kapoor (Raj Kapoor’s wife) thought that Neila Devi, sister of Shammi’s friend Raghuvir Singh would make the best wife for Shammi and mother for Aditya and Kanchan.
Neila Devi belonged to the royal family of the kingdom of Bhavnagar at that time and her parents shared a good bond with the Kapoor clan. Later, they got settled in Mumbai and the bond between the two families only strengthened with time.
One day, Shammi Kapoor invited Neila to the Kapoor residence and the two talked the whole night in which he confessed everything about his marriage and children. And at the end, he asked her to come to his house and stay there for a lifetime. The next day, Shammi’s father Prithviraj Kapoor went to Neila’s father to ask her hand for his son. On the same day, i.e. January 27, 1969, Shammi Kapoor and Neila Devi got married. Neila expressed in an interview later:
“When I got married, I knew I’d always get second billing…. Shammiji spoke often about Geetaji. He missed her. He did care for me and couldn’t do without me but the way he loved Geetaji was different”.
After the 1968 film, Brahmachari in which Shammi and Mumtaz acted together, the two got very close. In fact, Shammi also proposed marriage to Mumtaz once and she happily gave in to the proposal but she was strictly against the Kapoor khandan parampara in which women were not allowed to work in the films after marriage. Their fling, hence, lasted a very short time.
And lastly, the list ends with Bina Ramani. Shortly after Geeta Bali’s death, Shammi met the socialite, Bina Ramani. In her autobiography, which she wrote later, Bina revealed that she was so attracted to Shammi Kapoor and was in infatuation for long. Bina, in fact, was ready to marry Shammi Kapoor and even elope with him but the Kapoors didn’t endorse that choice, and later, she married a US-based businessman.
So, these were the women in Shammi Kapoor’s life, and the story of his two marriages. What we can possibly learn from his love life is that one must never be afraid to give love and marriage a second chance and that way the whole life comes back to a joyful track. What say, guys?