Beti Bachao: Shakti Kapoor wants Shraddha married in 3 years

Kalpana Nair

Jul,17 2015 13:53:39 IST

There are times when one wishes that the cinema screen was an actual geographical, physical space – where you could basically trap beloved actors so that they don’t get out and make mincemeat of your fond memories of them. Last month, Bollywood’s Chief Sanskaar Officer Alok Nath tweeted ‘Jail the bitch’ in reference to the secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, Kavita Krishnan. No amount of Tuffy can now reclaim Hum Aapke Hai Koun for me now.

Then earlier this week, this interview appeared on rediff.com.

Had I not clicked on that link, I would still have been a fan of "Balma" from Chaalbaaz, who proclaimed himself as chhota andnanha. Of Crime Master Gogo from Andaz Apna Apna, who badly wanted to play marbles with everyone’s eyeballs. I could go on, but I won’t because as of yesterday, my memories of Nandu, Gogo and Balma have forever been tarnished by the sheer power of Shakti Kapoor’s sexism.

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Shakti Kapoor. Image from IBN Live.

We were first introduced to Shakti Kapoor’s dodginess in 2005, when India TV aired a clip from a sting operation in which Kapoor came on to an undercover reporter posing as a Bollywood aspirant. The charges were never proven and Kapoor alleged that the clip was ‘doctored’.

I doubt he fooled anyone, but as far as public appearances go, Kapoor emerged largely unscathed. Since the allegations went nowhere, one gave Kapoor the benefit of a smidgeon of doubt. At the very least, one hoped he had learnt some lessons along the way, now that he had been publicly shamed. Apparently not.

A veteran of 700 films, the Rediff interview doesn't include the questions that were posed to him and is essentially a monologue, in which Kapoor traces his journey from Delhi's Karol Bagh, where his father was a cloth merchant, to FTII, and then his steady rise in Bollywood. It is conducted by Patcy N, who appears to be oblivious to the multiple red flags being waved throughout the interview. Kapoor is introduced as an excitable and misunderstood papa bear who owns prime real estate in Mumbai and deserves unnecessary exclamation marks:

Shakti Kapoor may be famous for his villainous roles on screen but in real life, he's a fun person, who gets excited with the smallest things! Owner of a sprawling sea-facing home in Mumbai's posh suburb Juhu, Kapoor adores his family. And yet, he admits he did not know his daughter Shraddha could sing!

Because the fact that a man does not know his daughter sings beautifully is totally negated by the same man owning a big house in Juhu and being easily excitable. Obviously.

However, let’s not be swayed by Juhu property. The point is, under all those hideous roles and terrible casting-couch controversies, there is a good, wholesome family man. Right?

My wife is 12 years younger than me. She was a child artiste. In the film Kismet, starring Mithun Chakraborty and Ranjeeta, she played Mithun's younger sister. We fell in love on the sets of that film. I got the title Shakti Kapoor: Cradle snatcher. But she was too good so I decided to marry her.”

Ummm…cradle snatcher? But wait, where’s our sense of humour? That’s a joke, surely.

Let’s do some maths: Shakti Kapoor was born in 1956 (according to the internet. Admittedly not a watertight source, but let’s accept that he was born in the mid-1950s.) If Shakti and Shivangi got married in 1982, as he claims in the interview, he would have then been 26 years old and if his wife is indeed 12 years younger than him, she was … 14. Which, bhaiyon and behenon, would be illegal.

Then again, maybe Shakti-saab is not good with numbers and has forgotten how much older than his wife he is. So, let’s try another tack. Shivangi Kapoor’s younger sister is Padmini Kolhapure, who was born in 1965. Shivangi is elder by a year and a half, which means she was born in or around 1963. If Shakti and Shivangi met on the sets of Kismet, which released in 1980, he would have been around 23-24 years old and she would have been about 16 (assuming the film was shot a year before release). That’s better than 14, but not by much.

That said, it would be unfair to pretend Shivangi and Shakti Kapoor's version of Romeo and Juliet deserves gasps of shock. Dimple Kapadia married Rajesh Khanna when she was 16 and everyone was cool with that. So maybe Bollywood is just more chilled out about nitty-gritty of issues like age of consent and statutory rape.

Let us leave this quicksand of controversy, turn our attention away from his romantic inclinations, and see what a great father figure Shakti Kapoor is instead.

Since Siddhant was interested in acting, I sent him to New York to learn acting. After that, I told him to go to London to learn direction and make short films. He also learnt dance and yoga. I told him to learn everything that I learnt at the institute. After he came back, I felt he was not completely ready. I was working with Priyadarshan and requested him to take Siddhant as his assistant. He worked as an assistant on five films.”

Awww. Isn’t that just making you feel all warm and fuzzy? How can we not just luuurve a man who is so proud of his son (even though the son has just one film and one cameo to his name as an actor)? Let’s hear what he has to say about his daughter, Shraddha, who is the second-most famous person in the family. Did he give us the details of her education abroad? No. In fact, he didn’t even know she wanted to act (just like he didn’t know she could sing). Did he introduce her to people who gave her a break in films?

She had come home on vacation from Boston when she met Ambika Hinduja (the producer of Teen Patti), who gave Shraddha her first break.

Ok then. But hey, a little tough love isn’t a bad thing. Maybe he wanted her to be a self-made woman because it’s an industry full of cradle-snatchers and casting couches. Maybe he knew she was smart and talented enough to not need him. Maybe he thought this would help her be more confident and sure-footed.

So, how does this proud, enabling father see his children’s futures?

Today, Siddhant is in a place where he can become a Feroz Khan or Manoj Kumar, and can direct and act in his home production. He has four releases this year.”

“I will marry Shraddha off after three years. I don't want her to be an older heroine or marry at 40. I want her to marry at the peak of her career. But I will not force her.”

It is almost as if Shakti Kapoor has channeled Kamal Mehra from Dil Dhadakne Do while giving this interview.

Shraddha Kapoor is a promising talent. She just starred in the second highest grossing Hindi film of the year so far, ABCD 2. She’s picked challenging projects like Haider and has surprise hits like Aashiqui 2 and Ek Villain to her name. She also sings like a dream.

Despite all this talent and success, what Kapoor sees in her is a girl who apparently spends too much money and who must be married off, in three years. What she may accomplish in the coming years is insignificant when compared to the nightmare of being branded “an older heroine”. It’s as though youth is Shraddha’s only advantage, in Shakti Kapoor's book. Meanwhile, Siddhant – who is older than Shraddha, incidentally – can take his time to become the next Manoj Kumar. As if one wasn’t enough.

Contrast this to the grace that Shraddha Kapoor exhibits when she’s asked about her father, as she did when she appeared onKoffee with Karan. She could have been embarrassed by many of her father’s choices, on and off screen. It would be perfectly justified if she’d maintained a diplomatic silence about him. Instead, when Shraddha speaks of her father, she emphasizes what a hard worker he is and how he has been a mainstay in Bollywood for decades. She reminds all of us of Kapoor’s work ethic, the discipline that it requires and the admiration that he deserves for being a thorough professional.

I am sure that in his head, Kapoor thinks he is a protective father, looking after his daughter’s best interests. But if the interview Kapoor has given is any indication, he is the classic cocktail of paternal good intentions and old school sexism, swirling in the goblet of gender bias that is Bollywood. I will never again look at a dangling drawstring again and think that Nandu is anyone's bandhu.

Updated Date: Jul 17, 2015 15:58 PM