'Mere paas Ma hai didn't happen by chance'

'We knew exactly the impact it would have.'
'You see, the line doesn't make its impact in isolation.'
'Its resounding impact depends on Amitabh's lengthy diatribe that precedes Shashi's line.'

Javed Akhtar and his then writing partner Salim Khan wrote many iconic lines for films in the 1970s, lines that have echoed a million times and more in the decades since.

"Very often you write what the character has to say, unaware of the impact it will have. In Sholay, there were so many lines that we wrote without knowing they'd become iconic," Javedsaab tells Subhash K Jha.

However, he reveals, Shashi Kapoor's career-defining line, 'Mere paas Ma hai' didn't happen by chance.

Says Javedsaab, "We knew exactly the impact it would have. You see, the line doesn't make its impact in isolation. Its resounding impact depends on Amitabh Bachchan's lengthy diatribe that precedes Shashi Kapoor's line."

"So you see, there was a momentum created for Shashi Kapoor's line by Amitabh Bachchan's dialogues. The impact of Shashi's four words, 'Mere paas Ma hai' was dependent on the build-up towards that line."

Javedsaab feels Shashi Kapoor will be remembered for a lot more than just that line in Deewaar.

"He was a terrific actor, seen to be sophisticated and urbane, but look how ably he played the rustic character in Jab Jab Phool Khile or a working class man in Bimal Roy's Char Diwari."

More than his considerable screen presence, Javedsaab points out, it was his real-life persona that Shashi Kapoor will be remembered for.

Says Javedsaab, "He came across as so decent, cultured and kind on screen because he was the same in real life. It is not difficult to be courteous to people who are your social equals. But Shashi was good to everyone."

"On the sets he'd remember the names of every single individual -- from actors to spotboys. This was extremely gratifying to workers on the sets who were used to being ignored by the stars. Shashi didn't fraternise for effect. He was a genuinely generous man," Javedsaab remembers.

The Kapoor family, Javedsaab says, has contributed immeasurable talent to Hindi cinema. "Prithviraj Kapoor was a stalwart and his three sons -- Raj, Shammi and Shashi -- carved their immortal places in Hindi cinema."

"The next generation gave us talent like Randhir and Rishi. And the generation after that has yielded exceptional talent like Karisma, Kareena and Ranbir. The Kapoor family is of extraordinary significance to our cinema."

"And Shashi Kapoor was a true trooper from that illustrious family."

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