Late actor Shashi Kapoor took only Rs 101 as his signing amount for doing New Delhi Times in 1986. The film revolved around the nexus between politicians and media barons. The actor even won National Award for Best Actor for his performance of an honest journalist in the film.
Kapoor, a superstar in commercial films, was one of the few actors in the industry who loved alternative cinema and went to great length to nurture it as a producer and actor.
“New Delhi Times” was one such film and is considered way ahead of its time in its realistic portrayal of politics, crime and media.
At the 10th BIFFES, film’s director Ramesh Sharma presented the drama today as an homage to the Bollywood superstar, who died in December last year at the age of 79. Sharma recalled his meeting with Kapoor , whom he met through Subroto Mitra, the cameraman in all of Satyajit Ray films.
“When I went to meet Shashi Kapoor, he took me out to dinner at Bombay’s Golden Dragon restaurant at Raj. I narrated the story to him while we sat and told him I wanted him to play the lead in the film.
“To this he counter questioned, ‘How much money do you have in your pocket?’ I thought he wanted me to pay the bill. I replied, ‘I have a thousand rupees’. The actor said, ‘Take out Rs 100. It’s the signing amount. I’m working in your film.”
The director, who was debuting with “New Delhi Times”, said when the film was about to go on floors, he received a call from Kapoor, saying his wife Jennifer was dying with cancer and it was no longer possible for him to do the film.
“I told him it was difficult for me take another actor at this point. I had visualised the whole film with him in my mind,” Sharma recalled.
Kapoor even suggested the names of “usual suspects” Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher but the director refused.
“I waited for him. Unfortunately, Jennifer died within the week. Shashi came back and it took him around six months to recover. His family then forced him to work so that he could get out of his grief. And this was the film in which he worked,” he said.
Sharma remembers Kapoor as a thorough gentleman and a great artiste, who could deliver dialogues in a single take and wanted to contribute to good cinema.
“I was lucky Shashi agreed to work in the film,” he said.
(with PTI Inputs)