By Rishabh Naudiyal Last Updated:
There was something special about the late legendary actor, Shashi Kapoor, that even today, an entire generation of women saw him as their 'dream guy'. From his dimples to his looks and the different intensity only he can exhibit while delivering his dialogues, Shashi was a master in making people fall in love with him. Apart from his professional excellence, Shashi was a man of his words, as he had remained single and devoted to his wife, Jennifer Kendal, after her demise on September 7, 1984, due to cancer.
However, now some excerpts from late Shashi Kapoor's autobiography, Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, the Star, have made their way on the internet and have unveiled some never-heard-before revelations about the tragic demise of his wife, Jennifer Kendal. The book also unfolded the truths about the impact of Jennifer's death on Shashi's life and the point from where it all started. But before heading to those shocking revelations, let's remember the greatness of Shashi Kapoor.
Shashi Kapoor had proven that he had the calibre to be in the industry as an actor with his memorable performances in movies like Pyaar Kiye Jaa, Bombay Talkie, Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, Deewaar, and Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
Shashi Kapoor was also the recipient of many prestigious awards like three National Film Awards, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Padma Bhushan, two Filmfare Awards and finally the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. He was also a producer, assistant director and director, all in one and had worked in over 175 films.
In 1956, while working in theatre groups, Shashi Kapoor had met English actress, Jennifer Kendal in Calcutta. Shashi had worked as an assistant stage manager and was also an actor for Prithvi Theatre, his father's theatre group.
At the same time, Geoffrey Kendal's Shakespearean group was also present there, and Jennifer was Geoffrey's daughter. Following a few consequent meetings, Shashi and Jennifer had realised that they were in love with each other.
There was initial disapproval from Jennifer's family. But, with sister-in-law, Geeta Bali's support, Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer got married on July 2, 1958. Later, they were seen acting together in a few movies too. They have three children, Kunal, Karan and Sanjana Kapoor.
When Jennifer Kendal was diagnosed with cancer, it was complete heartbreak for her parents, Geoffrey Kendal and Laura Liddell. They were shattered and could not process the word 'cancer' even after her demise. In the autobiography, Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, the Star, Jennifer's sister, Felicity Kendal, had mentioned that her mother had turned into a soul-less body after her sister's demise. Explaining the condition of her parents after Jennifer's demise, Felicity had said:
"My mother was never quite the same afterwards. She was very religious before, but lost her faith. The light went out a bit. My parents used to spend half the year in India with my sister. But when she died, they felt going back was too painful, so they lost their home as well as Jennifer."
Moving forward in Shashi Kapoor's autobiography, there is an excerpt about the popular Indian filmmaker and screenwriter, Dev Benegal, who had met Kunal Kapoor at the Prithvi Theatre and had asked him about his father, Shashi Kapoor's reaction to Jennifer's demise.
To this, Kunal had said something that had stunned Dev, as he had revealed that his father, Shashi, had taken a boat outright in the middle of the Arabian sea during their recent Goa vacation and had cried his heart out. Then, recalling the nerve-shattering moment, Kunal had said:
"Dad (Shashi Kapoor) took this boat out in the middle of the sea. When he got there, that was the first time he cried. Really, he wept. He was really shaken by her death."
Popular Indian actress, Simi Garewal had also dropped her thoughts about Shashi Kapoor's condition after his wife, Jennifer Kendal's death and had explained that the actor had tried his best to work amid his battle with depression. But he had become 'rudderless' and was unable to find any meaning in his life and his decisions since he had lost someone, to which he had surrendered himself for many years. She had explained:
"Jennifer occupied—or Shashi surrendered to her—a large part of his personality. And they merged. With Jennifer gone, Shashi struggled but couldn't find himself. That vast area of his personality that was Jennifer—now it lay empty. A void. I met him in London over dinner with Ismail Merchant and could see that he was floundering. He was different—not himself."
Moving towards the end of Shashi Kapoor's lonely life, an excerpt from his autobiography, Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, the Star, featured a revelation from his close friend and journalist, Anil Dharker, that is nothing but a pure tear-jerker. The journalist had stated that consuming alcohol had become a crucial part of his daily routine after his wife, Jennifer Kendal's death. He had stated:
"His domestic staff would bring refills as soon as his glass emptied out. He wouldn't even have to ask. They knew exactly how long it took him to finish his drink, and they would be ready with the next. By the end of lunch, he would be quite sozzled."
Although Anil Dharker had tried his best to handle his friend, Shashi Kapoor's alcohol addiction, but he had failed miserably. The journalist had recalled the same and had revealed how helpless he had felt when Shashi's children, Kunal Kapoor and Sanjana Kapoor, used to plea him to visit their house more often, as his presence used to calm their father. Recalling and same, and emphasising on Shashi's physical collapse, he had said:
"I tried, quite often, to talk him out of it. Come on, do something, he listens to you! They (Kunal and Sanjana) said to me. I answered, this is one area where he doesn't listen to me at all. Visit more often because when you are here, at least he walks around. Otherwise, he just sits. They said (Kunal and Sanajana). So I did."
Everyone will always be deeply disheartened by the loss of Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal. While Jennifer had died on September 7, 1984, due to cancer, an emotionally-drained Shashi had breathed his last on December 5, 2017. Their love story and the way everything had panned out for Shashi, in the end, teaches everything about life, relationships, and depression.