The Hindu Editorial With Vocabulary ( 06 Dec 2017 ) : With that smile — on Shashi Kapoor

The Hindu Editorial With Vocabulary,

  • Shashi Kapoor made his debut as a hero well into Hindi cinema’s Golden Age in 1961 with Yash Chopra’s Dharmputra. The story of a Hindu family bringing up an illegitimate Muslim child, it brought the ghosts of Partition to the fore and underscored the necessity of addressing the trauma, violence and bigotry that arose out of that fissure. In time, Chopra would cast him in Waqt, among the first multi-starrers and which marked the start of another, splashier era in Hindi films.
  • It would seem that Kapoor, with his crooked-toothed good looks, amiable manner and acting skills that would never outpace the demands of the film at hand, had always been around. The youngest son of Prithviraj Kapoor, after Raj and Shammi, he would also nominate himself as the inheritor of the family’s theatre legacy. For all the easy-breezy romancing of his big-budget films, he widened his canvas, becoming the first successful crossover actor with roles in, say, Merchant-Ivory productions (The Householder, In Custody), and producing landmarks such as 36 Chowringhee Lane. Through it all, his body of work was held afloat by an underlying spirit of progress, inclusion and innovation.
  • Like Raj Kapoor, he set up a production house. However, unlike the more mainstream RK Films, Film Valas was all about providing support to alternative voices and indie cinema, much before the term was even coined. It was a rare, selfless gesture from an industry insider for those on its fringes. In a way, it was a private version of the government’s National Film Development Corporation and, despite incurring huge losses, it delivered landmark films like Shyam Benegal’s Junoon and Kalyug, Aparna Sen’s 36 Chowringhee Lane, Govind Nihalani’s Vijeta and Girish Karnad’s Utsav. These films also gave Kapoor a platform for his acting skills, given that the big directors had by the 1970s caged him in romances and multi-starrers. He was smouldering as the Pathan lover of a young British woman in Junoon and fascinating as Karan in Kalyug, a modern-day interpretation of the Mahabharata. He brought alive in Vijeta the dilemmas of a man in a troubled marriage even as his son is trying to find himself, and was unrecognisable as the wily Samsthanak in Utsav. Kapoor’s most dedicated stint was in establishing Prithvi Theatre. In his boyhood, he would travel across South Asia with his father’s travelling Prithvi Theatres. In 1978, along with wife Jennifer Kendal, he built the theatre in Juhu as a tribute to Prithviraj and to his own roots. To know it would outlast him would surely have given him the greatest joy.


Illegitimate: not authorized by the law; not in accordance with accepted standards or rules.
Example: An illegitimate exercise of power by the military
Synonyms: illegal, unlawful, illicit, criminal, felonious, unlicensed, unauthorized

Partition: the action or state of dividing or being divided into parts.
Example: The country’s partition into separate states
Synonyms: dividing up, partitioning, separation, division, dividing, subdivision

Trauma: physical injury.
Example: The common abdominal injuries after blunt trauma are those to the spleen, liver, and kidneys.
Synonyms: injury, damage, wound, cut, laceration, lesion, abrasion

Bigotry: bigoted attitudes; intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.

Example: The report reveals racism and right-wing bigotry

Fissure: a long, narrow opening or line of breakage made by cracking or splitting, especially in rock or earth.
Example: ‘Earth fissures several feet wide and deep have been observed in Lucerne Valley,’ he said.
Synonyms: opening, crevice, crack, cleft, breach, crevasse, chasm

Splashier: attracting a great deal of attention; elaborately or ostentatiously impressive.
Example: I don’t care for splashy Hollywood parties
Synonyms: ostentatious, sensational, attention-grabbing, showy

Outpace: go, rise, or improve faster than.
Example: He took the pass and outpaced the defense to score in the corner

Inheritor: a person who inherits something.
Example: We are the inheritors of these cultural traditions

Afloat: floating in water; not sinking.
Example: They trod water to keep afloat
Synonyms: buoyant, floating, buoyed up, on/above the surface

Mainstream: belonging to or characteristic of the mainstream.
Example: Mainstream politics
Synonyms: normal, conventional, ordinary, orthodox, conformist

Fringes: the outer, marginal, or extreme part of an area, group, or sphere of activity.
Example: His uncles were on the fringes of crooked activity
Synonyms: perimeter, periphery, border, borderline, margin, rim

Incur: become subject to unpleasant as a result of one’s own behavior or actions.
Example: I will pay any expenses incurred
Synonyms: bring upon oneself, expose oneself to, lay oneself open to

Smoulder: burn slowly with smoke but no flame.
Example: The bonfire still smoldered, the smoke drifting over the paddock
Synonyms: smoke, glow, burn

Outlast: live or last longer than.
Example: The kind of beauty that will outlast youth
Synonyms: outlive, survive, live/last longer than, ride out, weather, withstand