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Iconic Indian Actor Shashi Kapoor Dies at 79

The star of numerous Merchant-Ivory films, Indian actor Shashi Kapoor has died after a prolonged illness. He was 79. He was admitted to a hospital in Mumbai on Sunday with a chest infection and died on Monday.

Kapoor was one of the few Indian actors who straddled the cinemas of India and the West. He was the youngest son of actor Prithviraj Kapoor.

After appearing as a child actor in Raj Kapoor’s “Aag” (1948) and “Awaara,” Shashi Kapoor debuted as a leading man in 1961 in Yash Chopra’s “Dharmputra.”

Kapoor’s association with the James Ivory-Ismail Merchant team began in 1963 with “The Householder” and continued with “Shakespeare-Wallah” (1965), “Bombay Talkie” (1970) and “In Custody” (1994), which was also his last major film role.

His numerous successes in Hindi-language films in the early part of his career include “Waqt,” “Jab Jab Phool Khile,” “Haseena Maan Jayegi,” “Pyar Ka Mausam,” and “Aa Gale Lag Jaa” (1973).

Kapoor also formed an enormously successful on-screen partnership with superstar Amitabh Bachchan, with whom he acted in blockbusters including “Deewar” (1975), “Kabhi Kabhie” (1976), “Trishul” (1978) and “Namak Halaal” (1982).

In 1979, Kapoor, via his Film-Valas production outfit, began producing acclaimed arthouse films, beginning with “Junoon” and followed by “Kalyug,” “36 Chowringhee Lane,” “Vijeta,” and “Utsav.” In 1991, he directed “Ajooba,” starring Bachchan.

Kapoor married British actress Jennifer Kendal. In 1978 they set up Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre, which remains India’s leading theatre venue. Kendal died in 1984. They are survived by their daughter, Sanjana, and sons Kunal and Karan, all of whom have had acting stints.

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