Shammi’s Son, Yes and Just as Engaging, with a Wild Streak Tucked In

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Aditya Kapoor spoke fondly of his famous parents Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali

By Jawahar Malhotra

SUGAR LAND:  He can talk a mile-a-minute and rambled on one Sunday afternoon through the key moments to explain why he had taken off on a 5,500 kilometer, 25-day motorcycle ride across northwestern parts of India in October 2013. Mixed in was a frank tale of his life, holding back very little from his audience of mostly first-Genners eager for a touch with celebrity, even once removed.

Bespectacled with wavy gray hair that drew a cowlick, hikers boots, jeans and a striped blue half-sleeved shirt over a dark blue undershirt, Aditya Kapoor was at once eager to relate his story and willing to pose for pictures for the fifty or so people who had come to meet him during his visit to Houston where his son Avinash works as a software designer.

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Aditya Kapoor being introduced by the hosts of the afternoon tea, Pankaj and Asha Dhume at their house.

Kapoor has written a book, aptly named “Bike On a Hike”, on the experience and it is being sold on Amazon. Befitting his personality and demeanor, the book is humorous and easy flowing and is illustrated both inside and on the covers with sketches (by Mumbai-based illustrator Ahmed Sikander) that capture the light heartedness of the narrative. A first-time author, Kapoor was equally awed by the clutch of authors in the room – noted ones like Bapsi Sidhwa and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and self-published ones like Pradeep Anand and Dan Mayur – and recalled the instance when he saw Sidhwa and Divakaruni’s books on the shelves at Crossroads in Kemp’s Corner in Mumbai.

The crowd that had gathered at the home of Asha and Pankaj Dhume in Sugar Land was all ears as Kapoor, 50, sat down close to his wife Priti to explain the experiences that he had penned down. But realizing that his pedigree was equally important to his audience, he volunteered some background information on growing up with screen legend parents Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali (who died at the age of 31). His chachas (paternal uncles) were the beloved movie stars Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor and his dada (paternal grandfather) was the legendary Prithvi Raj Kapoor who also started the clan’s movie studio.


Aditya Kapoor described the couple’s 5,500 km motorbike journey as his wife Priti listened

“My greatest sorrow was that I didn’t go beyond 10th grade,” confessed Kapoor. He instead became an aide at RK Studios, but found a change in career path when it was suggested to him by his spiritual guru. He then worked for “a shipping guy”, then spent 20 years in management before finally meeting and befriending Ramesh Anand “who worked in placement in a fancy office. He told me to hustle in the market.” Anand, who has since moved to Houston many years ago, made an amused grin from the audience.

Kapoor then got busy in setting up amusement parks, studios and other projects in India and the Middle East, but his realized that he was good in scripts and films and drifted back to Bollywood, became an actor and made 10 to 15 movies. About 10 years ago, Kapoor decided to retire from life in the big city and moved with Goa his wife, Priti who has made a name as a painter in oils and watercolors. That’s where he took up motorbiking, buying a Royal Infusion 500cc classic and joined a bike club. One day he came up with the idea of the long journey and breached it with his wife.

“We did it because we became monosyllabical,” joked Kapoor about the 5,500km ride on his bike, with his wife riding behind and all their possessions in side-saddlebags. “The book is a diary of the ride,” he added, “and is written from the perspective of the bike.” The story opens with a meeting with the Dalai Lama who hugged the two of them when he heard they had arrived on a bike. “He called all the people back,” recalled Kapoor, “and said, ‘Hey, they came varoom, varoom on a bike!’.”

Asked about some trying moments on the 25-day journey, Kapoor remembered being tailgated by a trucker for a long time. When they stopped apprehensively on the side of the road, the trucker came out and expressed his astonishment saying “husband-wife? Bale, bale!!” and started to laugh merrily that they had so much luggage. “We really never felt scared,” added Kapoor, “but came back from the trip feeling the love and affection of the people we had encountered.”