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Shashi Kapoor, Indian Film Star in ’70s and ’80s, Dies at 79

Shashi Kapoor's death has left a void in the Hindi film industry, says film fraternity. The Padma Bhushan awardee proved his might as more than a natural star.

  Shashi Kapoor, one of India’s best-known actors, who appeared in more than 100 films in the 1970s and ’80s alone, died on Monday in Mumbai. He was 79.

India’s president, Ram Nath Kovind, announced the death on Twitter. Mr. Kapoor had been in poor health for years; a nephew, the actor Randhir Kapoor, told the news agency Press Trust of India that Mr. Kapoor had been on dialysis.

Mr. Kapoor was the romantic lead in numerous Bollywood movies. He was part of a family of actors, directors and producers that included his older brothers Raj, who died in 1988, and Shammi, who died in 2011.

Mr. Kapoor appeared in British and American films as well as Hindi ones, including several by the Merchant Ivory production house. Among his better-known English-language films were “The Deceivers” (1988), a thriller in which he acted alongside Pierce Brosnan, and “Sammy and Rosie Get Laid” (1987), a comic drama directed by Stephen Frears whose cast included Claire Bloom.

Among his scores of film credits, Mr. Kapoor caused a particular stir with “Satyam Shivam Sundaram: Love Sublime,” a 1978 movie directed by his brother Raj in which he did something that had been banned in Hindi films for years: shared an onscreen kiss (several, actually) with his female co-star, Zeenat Aman.

The country maintained tight restrictions on filmmakers during Indira Gandhi’s first term as prime minister; when that ended in 1977, one result was a more relaxed film code.

“I hope the new rules will encourage directors to make more logical love stories,” Mr. Kapoor told The New York Times for an article about the kiss. “Also, with realistic treatment of the romantic theme, perhaps we can get away from having so much violence in our films.”

Balbir Raj Kapoor was born on March 18, 1938, in what was then Calcutta (now Kolkata). He had no trouble breaking into the movie business: His father was Prithviraj Kapoor, a famous actor. His mother was the former Ramsarni Mehra.

Shashi, as he became known, was still a child when he appeared in his first films, in the 1940s and ’50s. By the 1960s, though, he was being cast in major roles in romantic dramas like “Char Diwari” and “Dharmputra” (both 1961).

In 1963 he played a teacher in the domestic comedy “The Householder,” directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant, the first of a series of films Mr. Kapoor made for that production team.
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