From the archives

I am very busy these days with my new Indian Maa Edwina, who is visiting me for a month and bossing me around and cooking for me and making me laugh and laugh and laugh. (For lots more about her go here!) Also I have a new computer so am still in the process of getting everything transferred and software up-to-date and all that not-so-fun stuff. So in lieu of longer posts about films (although I’ll get to reviews when I can) I thought I’d entertain you with some of my favorite articles from my stacks of vintage magazines. They will be in pdf format and if you have trouble viewing them in your browser window, simply right- (or control-) click to save them to your hard drive and use Adobe Reader (free download) to open them.

This particular installment is an interview with the lovely Jennifer Kapoor, wife of The Shash and mother of aspiring actors Kunal, Karan and Sanjana, from the December 1983 edition of Stardust. Enjoy!

Jennifer Kapoor article

41 Comments to “From the archives”

  1. As ever, Jennifer Kapoor does not entirely sell me on what must be a frustrating and hurtful life. Memsaab, o queen of gossip of yore, who are these Shashi link-ups? The only one I’ve ever heard about is Shabana Azmi. And I had no idea about Karan and Sarika!

    • I think the Shabana one was the only one with any real teeth…but these magazines have always been pretty cavalier about making stuff up! And I agree with you that she always comes off as a bit exasperated in her interviews (maybe she just didn’t like being interviewed?).

  2. The southern sirens (Rekha, Sri devi) were known for shying away from interviews compared to the ‘northern’ heroines, so their interviews would be similar to this one.
    Jennifer was brilliant in the couple of films i have seen her in specially 36 Chowringhee Lane – you have seen it? it is not for masala film fans they say!(non-Indian viewers are lucky the 8 minute Shashi interview is not there in the Indian DVD)
    Is it true that she played Shashi’s love interest’s mother(!) in some film?

    • I haven’t seen 36 Chowringhee Lane yet, but I have it and I want to. So many films, so little time!!!! You are probably referring also to Junoon, where she played Nafisa Ali’s mother and Nafisa was Shashi’s love interest :) I found that a bit hard to swallow, myself.

      (And are you talking about the interview where Shashi says that movies are the only cheap entertainment for Indian men besides their wives?)

  3. down to earth woman who died too soon. She was … ummm… normal… in a sea of star wives who determinedly lead not so normal lives. A regular gal and wife and mother. Refreshing.

    Shabana is supposed to have pursued Shashi relentlessly. The rest were probably not serious at all.

  4. And Sarika was supposedly a very “bad” girl in a puritan era. Bad for having walked out of her mothers home, living alone and ACTUALLY having a boyfriend. Interesting how moralistic the journalist is when it comes to Sarika.

    Ofcourse Sarika did go off the deep end later with her very own married man adventure, but that is a whole another story.

  5. I love the high-handed tone the journalist takes in the article. No wonder, Jennifer sounds irritated, with journalists being so moralistic all the time. It’s almost as if she were being interrogated.

  6. Nice sparring match between Jennifer and the writer! Loved it. The PR – interview hand outs of these days are so lame in comparison (you can almost guess how it is all going to go.. yawn). I think the writer brought out the complex picture quite truthfully and was ultimately on Jennifer’s side despite the barbs.

    Great to know you are having Maa Edwina with you. Looking forward to read anecdotes about her visit and scandalous revelations of yester-years.

    • Lots of anecdotes for sure (and go to Dusted Off’s blog to see lots of them, Tom wrote a 4-part series about her)! And she has started teaching me the Twist!!!! But she has a hard row to hoe with that, as my mother would say. I am not very graceful :(

  7. Jennifer always sounded so interesting, didn’t she? At least, she had something to say for herself. I interviewed her daughter many many years later. :) I think I still have the interview lying somewhere around. Of course, that one had nothing to do with her film career; it was more to do with Prithvi Theatre which she was running after her mother’s death.

    • I loved how she said “Why should the Kapoors be responsible for Prithvi Theater?!” :) I am sure she is very proud of Sanjana wherever she is, she has kept it running for a long time. Very beautiful girl/woman too, Sanjana.

      • Lovely Sanjana walked into our office one evening just like that, 1990 or thereabouts, to hand out a press release about Prithvi Theatre, presumably – a hush fell over the room for a few seconds till someone recovered speech and asked her how we could help.

  8. Saw 36 Chowringhee Lane just a few months ago and loved her performance – she did sound a lot like my sister-in-law. I remember that the jerk I had the misfortune to be partnered with in Chemistry Lab also grieving upon news of her death and asking me if I’d watched this movie that Doordarshan aired as a tribute to her. I mostly felt sorry for her three children.
    As for the Shabana episode, an Anglo journo friend of mine always maintained that Shabana had regretted the whole business – to me, in 1989, that was the first I’d heard of it, though I did more than `cursorily’ glance through film magazines, thanks to my father’s being librarian of the company’s circulating library.

    • I really enjoyed her performances in Bombay Talkies and Junoon although I didn’t love either film (you know me, poor taste and all). It was lovely to see her in “The Far Pavilions” too. Her sister Felicity Kendal’s autobiography “White Cargo” is a GREAT read.

      • Loved Felicity on this Brit show PBS reran in the late ’90s, called `Good Neighbours.’ My only look-see at this Kendall.
        Here’s some of my poor taste – have yet to see Junoon and Bombay Talkies, will make amends for both.

        • They aren’t bad films by any means, just a bit deliberate/slow for me. I have a very high daily masala requirement!

          • I’m not complaining, your high daily masala requirement spices up my life. I know what you mean by slow, it occurred to me when we were watching `Abhijaan’ and `Sonar Kella’ (faster than Abhijaan, though.)

  9. Nobody was talking at that time of Sanjana taking up Prithvi! I’ve heard she is doing a wonderful job of looking after it. And I had this crush on Karan at that time! Wonder what he is doing now! Everybody talks of Karishma being the first Kapoor khandan girl to act in a film, thereby it was Sanjana in Hero Hiralal!

    • Karan is quite the looker here :) I think he and his brother went on to live in England, didn’t they? I don’t know. And I guess Sanjana preferred theater over films like her parents, or at least her mother and grandfathers!

      • Karan lives in London and Kunal is in Mumbai. Kunal is still in advertising and used to be married to Sheena Sippy (a photographer and Ramesh Sippy’s daughter). They have two kids. Karan is a successful advertising photographer. Sanjana married Valmik Thapar (a wildlife conservator and writer) and lives between Mumbai and Delhi. She has a son.

        • I thought Sanjana kapoor was married to Film director Basu bhattacharya`s son Adithya bhattacharya(who happens to be I think director of the Aamir khan`S experimental movie RAAKH, and he also acted in shyam benegal`s MANDI and Arunja raje`s RIHAEE)?????

  10. @memsaab- thanks for sharing. I remember Karan’s poster used to adorn the walls of many teenyboppers. He left to pursue a career in photography soon after trying his luck in Sultanat which was Juhi Chawla’s debut film as well. Kunal had a successful run as a TV commercial producer after Ahista Ahista, Vijeta and a few other films that he acted in did not do very well at the box office.

    I also remember an interview by Shashi soon after Jennifer passed away, where he lamented the fact that she did not get a national award for 36 Chowringhee Lane whereas Rekha got one for Umrao Jaan, which he felt was a costume drama.

    • I’ll try to keep scanning my favorites…am just very busy right now! But there are lots of interesting snippets in these magazines, once you sift through all the innuendo and gossip :)

  11. Awwww! Please tell Edwina that some loony ladies in Amrika are delighted to hear that, even though we know technically it doesn’t matter. But still.

    I think the thing I like most about Jennifer Kendal, other than her dedication to her chosen art, is that while she may not have had the easiest time in life, she chose an INTERESTING one. There’s a lot to be said for that, especially in…what was it, 1958 when they got married?

  12. Greta

    As usual, an awesome read…I open your blog everyday to see if you have posted new information…I know you can’t do it every single day, but I still go :)

    Karan and Kunal couldn’t act, but Sanjana was good…unfortunately, she looked too ‘phoren’ for Indian crowd.

  13. Apart from 36 Chowringhee Lane & Junoon, I really liked Jeniffer Kapoor’s Miss Gilby in Satyajit Ray’s Ghare Baire (The Home and the World). @memsaab have you seen it?
    There’s a documentary by Shyam Benegal on Ray, which has behind-the-scenes footage of Ray directing her. See:

  14. Another bit of trivia: In the Bengali classic Saptapadi (Uttam Kumar, Suchitra Sen) there was a piece from Othello with Utpal Dutt & Jennifer Kapoor being the respective voices of Othello & Desdimona.

  15. I am late to the party but i seem to recall that mags reported Jennifer attempting suicide due to the shabana/Sashi affair and Raj Kapoor being a big wig in the hindi film industry suppressed the news ie the reason for her hospitalisation.

    BTW, this article has some lovely pics of the whole family

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