Neila Devi on Shammi Kapoor
I first saw him when-----I was 9, he was 19 and had come to
Bhavanagar with his father's troupe to perfom on the stage. My family was in the
auditorium watching Prithvi Theatres stageplay "Pathan" and along with my
cousins I was allowed to watch from the wings on the stage. He came and pulled my
pigtails, something which I have never forgotten. And that is how I became a fan of a
person who one day was to become my husband.
The year was
1955, he had just married Geeta Bali, somebody I had always loved and respected both as a
film person and a human being. I had once met her and taken her autograph which is still
one of my proud possesions.
They used to often pass by our house in Vile Parle in Bombay and I vividly remember
waving out to them from my window. Being one of his greatest fans, I very keenly followed
his career graph and I used to collect articles and photographs of his from newspapers and
magazines which I still treasure.
He often came home to visit us as he was a
good friend of my brother, but I knew better - it was mostly to share a bottle of whisky
with my father who was a retired colonel and being the prohibition period, it was often my
father who ended up producing the whisky. He would regale us with his stories of shikar and film
shooting and various other escapades which kept the whole family enthralled while he
walloped off the bottle.