Shammi Kapoor spoke to Neila Devi for five hours, proposed to her immediately: ‘We married at his home the next day’ | Bollywood News

Shammi Kapoor spoke to Neila Devi for five hours, proposed to her immediately: ‘We married at his home the next day’ | Bollywood News

From being hailed as the ‘Elvis Presley of India’ to earning the title of the ‘Showman of Bollywood,’ Shammi Kapoor left an indelible mark on the Hindi film industry. Just as his films were filled with drama and flair, his personal life was no different. His high-profile affair with Nutan, a leading actress of the time, was no secret. Moreover, there was a romantic entanglement with the cabaret dancer Nadia Gamal during his trip to Sri Lanka. However, his heart found its home with actor Geeta Bali, leading to a swift wedding in 1955. Tragically, their love story was abruptly cut short when Geeta succumbed to smallpox in 1965.

After the devastating loss of Geeta, Shammi had a few relationships, with his affair with Mumtaz gaining significant attention. Mumtaz recently revealed on Indian Idol 13 that Shammi Kapoor had even proposed to her when she was just 17. She recalled, “He straightforwardly said, ‘I want to marry you,’ but I didn’t want to get married at that age.”

Shammi Kapoor, Mumtaz and Pran in Brahmachari. Shammi Kapoor, Mumtaz and Pran in Brahmachari. (Express archive photo)

Shammi and Geeta were blessed with two children, Aditya Raj Kapoor and Kanchan Kapoor. Following Geeta’s tragic passing, Shammi sought companionship once again, and he found it in Neila Devi. In a recent interview with ETimes, Neila Devi disclosed that Shammi’s sister-in-law and Raj Kapoor’s wife, Krishna Kapoor, recommended her to Shammi. It was quite an unusual courtship: Shammi called her late one night, and they conversed for five hours, during which he poured out the details of his colourful love life. By the end of that call, he proposed to her, declaring that they would wed the very next day. The wedding took place at Shammi’s Mumbai residence, attended by family and a handful of friends from the film industry.

Neila revealed that after calling her, Shammi reached out to all his girlfriends to inform them that he was marrying someone else.

Following their wedding, Shammi embarked on a shoot in Shimla for his film Prince (1969). Neila chose not to accompany him, as she believed that Shammi was too self-conscious to be seen with her in public. “People might not believe it, but he was very shy,” she said. In fact, for the first year after their marriage, she didn’t join him on any film sets.

Festive offer
Shammi Kapoor with Nutan in a still from Basant (1960). Shammi Kapoor with Nutan in a still from Basant (1960).

The couple came from diverse cultural backgrounds: Neila hails from the royal family of Bhavnagar, Gujarat, while Shammi’s family has roots in Peshawar, Pakistan. This cultural contrast led many to predict that their marriage wouldn’t last more than two months, and Shammi’s reputation as a Bollywood playboy only fueled these speculations. Having come from a traditional, non-filmy background, Neila faced skepticism about the sustainability of their union.

Neila Devi also revealed that Shammi Kapoor had a fiery temper and was a heavy drinker and chain smoker. “He would smoke a hundred cigarettes a day,” she said. However, he would abstain from alcohol for 21 days every year, from January 1 to January 21, to honour his first wife, Geeta Bali, who fell ill on January 1 and passed away on January 21.

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Winning the trust of Shammi’s and Geeta Bali’s children, Aditya Raj Kapoor and Kanchan Kapoor, presented a significant challenge for Neila Devi. To achieve this, she made the unusual decision not to have children of her own. She explained in an interview with Filmfare that it was crucial for her to ensure that Aditya and Kanchan saw her as a mother figure. She said, “It was a bigger challenge for me to make Aditya and Kanchan my own than have my own. I went through the same pangs that a mother does. I was strict with them because I didn’t believe in winning their favour by being lenient. Maybe if I had my own children there could have been tension at some point of time.”

Shammi Kapoor’s life took a challenging turn when he underwent a lung surgery in 2003. He later suffered from kidney disease, leading to his hospitalisation on August 7, 2011. Struggling with chronic kidney failure, he was placed on a ventilator. Despite the best efforts, the actor couldn’t recover and passed away on August 14, 2011, at the age of 79.

While ending her conversation, Neila shared another charming anecdote from her past. She revealed that during her college days, her mother slapped her when she discovered a picture of Shammi in one of her notebooks. Little did they know then that her life would take an unexpected turn, leading her to become Shammi Kapoor’s lifelong companion.

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