Flashback Friday: Remembering Shashi Kapoor-Jennifer Kendal's Passionate Love Story

Updated on May 14, 2016 09:31 AM IST  |  16.8M

A careful look at the Hindi film industry in the 1960’s and 1970’s reveals that during this highly eventful period, the iconic Shashi Kapoor had established himself as an artiste par excellence courtesy  his debonair personality and of course top-notch acting abilities. Now, nearly three decades after the release of his last full-fledged film, the actor is back in the limelight courtesy the release of his biography. In it, we are given a close and in-depth look at various aspects of his life.

And one such aspect is his relationship with wife Jennifer Kendal. As it so happens, the two met while Shashi was working with his father Prithviraj Kapoor’s Prithvi Theatres. According to Jennifer’s dad Geoffrey Kendal, a management company had made the mistake of double booking the stage to  Shakespeareana and Prithvi. A decision was eventually reached that the two companies would perform on alternate days. And it was on the evening of the Prithvi performance that Shashi saw Jennifer through the stage curtains.

Thereafter, the Deewar star introduced himself to Jennifer and hence began their courtship.

‘The next afternoon, I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant, watching Jennifer and Shashi fall in love over their noodles. They would stay together till she died, through thick and sometimes very thin […] She had met in Shashi the man she wanted forever” states Jennifer’s sister Felicity.

However,  Shashi’s  fondness for Jennifer did not go down too well with Geoffrey. Things soon turned so ugly that Jennifer was forced to confront him.

“Daddy has told me that it isn’t Shashi he objects to, or the fact that he is Indian, or that he is younger that I am […] It is just that he doesn’t want us to leave the company […] I wish that he would understand that all children grow up and want to leave!” she confided in Felicity thereafter.

The two lovebirds finally received some strong support from Shashi’s brother Shammi and his wife Geeta Bali.  They eventually spoke to their parents who agreed to let the lovebirds tie the knot.

However, Geoffrey refused to budge. This resulted in Jennifer’s exit from his group. Thereafter, the two lovebirds were left to fend for themselves. In fact, on one occasion they were stranded in Malayasia without any money and returned only after Raj Kapoor helped them out.

After these events, the two finally got married in 1958. As expected, Geoffrey did not attend the wedding. However, he finally put differences aside when the couple’s son Karan was born.

Thereafter, things seemed to be pretty fine for the couple. Moreover, Jennifer even took it upon her to ensure that their kids got a normal life away from the stardom. After being married for several years their world turned upside down when in 1983 Jennifer was diagnosed with cancer. Pretty soon the cancer spread and her health began declining. And then in 1984 she passed away leaving a void in Shashi’s life. As expected, he was devastated by this loss. However, he continued doing films even after her demise. But, according to Shashi’s colleagues, he wasn’t the same person anymore.

“Jennifer occupied a large part of his personality. And they merged. With Jennifer gone, Shashi struggled, but couldn’t find himself. I met him in London over dinner with Ismail Merchant and could see that he was floundering. He was different—not himself.” Says Simi Garewal. Moreover, her death also took a toll on his health. In many ways, these events proved that Shashi and Jennifer were soul mates in the purest sense of the word. A couple made for each other.

(Excerpted with permission of Rupa Publications India from the book Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, the Star by Aseem Chabbra)


Anonymous : Great combination of debonair looks, charm, fierce loyalty and acting skills. One of the few men in the Bombay Film industry to have remained faithful to one woman, one wife. What a handsome face!
REPLY 7 5 years ago
Anonymous : What happened to Karan Kapoor?!
REPLY 3 5 years ago
Anonymous : Shashis kids were also so good looking.. I was a big Fan of his son Karan , do you'll remember he used to be a model?? I wonder y his kids never become so famous like other Kapoor kids..
REPLY 11 5 years ago
Anonymous : True soulmate. Very endearing love
REPLY 9 5 years ago
Anonymous : It is ironic that Shashi's kids, who were born in India and could speak Hindi, couldn't get a start in Bollywood as they looked too white. Yet today, all these firangi girls get in.
REPLY 33 5 years ago
Anonymous : Shashi Kapoor is one of the most beautiful looking human beings that has ever existed and will ever exist.
REPLY 29 5 years ago
Anonymous : He was so gorgeous and dreamy.Best Kapoor ever
REPLY 26 5 years ago
Anonymous : Shashi and Vinod Khanna were the most good looking in that gen.
REPLY 33 5 years ago
Anonymous : My favourite Kapoor forever.
REPLY 41 5 years ago
Anonymous : Shashi Kapoor is the most different one in the Kapoor family. His acting style (from few movies that I have watched of him), his looks and his personality was all different than the other Kapoors.
REPLY 48 5 years ago
Anonymous : Among the three Kapoor brothers, Shashi and Shammi were so faithful to their spouses. Raj Kapoor and his sons, grand daughters and grand son had and have philandering ways.
REPLY 54 5 years ago
Anonymous : We rarely see such love nowdays because true love comes with a true heart, which only a handful have today.
REPLY 39 5 years ago
Anonymous : True love....so beautiful. We hardly find love like this anymore.
REPLY 31 5 years ago
Anonymous : Thank you. Beautiful story.
REPLY 37 5 years ago
Anonymous : Shashi was always my favorite
REPLY 37 5 years ago
Anonymous : Such great loves are no where to be found now in Bollywood. Now it is all about ego and instant gratification
REPLY 54 5 years ago
Anonymous : Thanks for sharing, so rare to find this kind odd of relationship in this day and age of infidelity, beautiful couple, and it's true, Shashi lost everything when she died, he was never the same, it happens when two people are so close to each other.. God bless him and his family...
REPLY 47 5 years ago
Anonymous : Mr. Shashi Kapoor - one of the handsomest actors and talented to boot.
REPLY 52 5 years ago
Anonymous : So touching!!
REPLY 73 5 years ago