The late actor Shashi Kapoor once told how producer, director and screenwriter Ismail Merchant borrowed money from his wife, the late actress Jennifer Kendall, to pay him for his film. In an old interview, Shashi said that while filming The Householder, he gave up because Ismail didn’t pay him and he demanded the money. After being paid, Shashi showed it to Jennifer who replied “very good”. Shashi also said she was “very sweet with” Ismail. (Also read | When Shashi Kapoor, his wife Jennifer Kendal had to sell their car and other things during a financial crisis)
Shashi featured in director Ismail Merchant’s The Householder (1963) alongside Leela Naidu and Durga Khote, among others. He had a long association with the filmmaker appearing in a number. He was also part of Ismail’s In Custody (1993), alongside Om Puri, Shabana Azmi and Neena Gupta. The actor starred in Ismail’s Shakespeare Wallah (1965) with Felicity Kendal, Jennifer’s sister.
In an interview with Rediff.com in 2005, Shashi said: “I remember once we finished half of The Householder, but Ismail Merchant didn’t pay me a penny. The film was shot in one only once in Delhi. I used to come and go in Bombay (now Mumbai) because I was also working on other films. I put my foot down and said to him, “If you don’t pay me now, I won’t be coming from Bombay for the next shooting day. He promised to pay. I knew he didn’t have the money. But he paid me. And I said, “Stop! I started to work. I was happy, but later realized he had borrowed money from my wife. Jennifer (Jennifer Kendall) had always been very sweet with him. Most of the time, she paid for lunch for the whole unit.
“So I went and showed him the money very proudly and said, ‘Here’s the money. Ismail paid me. And she said, ‘That’s very good.’ He would be ready for all these tricks, the thug (Aisi harkatein badmash karta tha). But the ultimate reason was good. He didn’t buy things for himself – cars, clothes or anything. He was making a film, a good film. Everyone loved him for that. He paid me in a way that I can never forget. When my wife was very very ill in London, I was depressed in every way, including finances. I had a film that was ready but remained a year and a half, waiting for release: Utsav. Ismail came to the hospital to give me some money,” he added.
Shashi and Jennifer married in 1958 and had three children – sons Karan and Kunal and daughter Sanjana. Jennifer passed away in 1984, while Shashi died in December 2017.
During his career, Shashi acted in many successful films such as Kanyadan (1968), Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (1974), Prem Kahani and Deewaar (1975), Chakkar Pe Chakkar and Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Trishna and Heeralal. Pannalal (1978), Kaala Patthar and Suhaag (1979), Do Aur Do Paanch, Kali Ghata and Shaan (1980), Silsila (1981), Namak Halaal (1982), Pakhandi (1984), New Delhi Times (1985) among others .