Sing Me a Song

It was a day of shared catharsis. Last Sunday when Shammi Kapoor passed away, fans took to twitter to pay their last respects to the entertainer par excellence. Everyone had a favourite Shammi Kapoor story to share. They discussed his famous on-screen antics, anecdotes about his films and retweeted Youtube links of his songs. Even television looped along the actor's evergreen songs from 'China Town', 'Tumsa Nahin Dekha', 'Teesri Manzil', 'Dil Deke Dekho', 'Junglee', 'Kashmir Ki Kali', 'An Evening in Paris', 'Janwar', 'Professor' and 'Brahmachari'.

As I was writing my memoriam piece on Kapoor with his songs playing in the background, it made me think if there was a better way to remember someone than to sing the songs they lived by? Can there ever be a better tribute? Even as I was struggling with words to do justice to the great actor's life, words from his vintage Pagla Kahin Ka came to my rescue. He said it himself: 'Tum mujhe yun bhula na paoge... Jab kabhi bhi sunoge geet mere sang sang tum bhi gungunaoge…'

Songs live on forever. Just like Kapoor's irrepressible joie de vivre which will never fade away from our collective memory. It is impossible to chart Kapoor's career defining songs without mentioning Mohd Rafi, who saved his best songs for his favourite actor.

The story goes that Kapoor was travelling when a man came to him and told him, "Shammiji, aapki aawaz chali gayi." Kapoor could not understand what he meant, but soon got the news that Rafi had died. In an earlier interview, Kapoor had confessed to me that he cried like a baby that day.

The Shammi-Rafi combination is legendary as is the Raj Kapoor- Mukesh, Rajesh Khanna- Kishore Kumar, Manoj Kumar- Mahendra Kapoor. To think of these actors without their 'voice' is impossible. When Rajesh Khanna croons 'Mere sapno ki rani' in 'Aradhana', one can almost see Kishore Kumar singing in a recording studio, trying to make his voice as similar to Khanna's. It's tough to figure out where one begins and the other ends. The voice and the actor go hand in hand.

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