Srinagar: When Shashi Kapoor first met Gulam Muhammad Wangnoo, in the eighties he promised him that he will be back. A year later, he kept his promise and returned and continued to stay with Wangnoos on their houseboat in Nigeen Lake.
Last time he visited Kashmir in 1988 for a film shoot, he brought his family along as he would do before. Wangnoo remembers taking him and his family to a picnic along with his family to Sonmarg.
“On the way, we stopped near Kangan and ate our lunch there on the banks of the river Sindh. When we came back in the evening, I asked him about the trip to which he replied that this was the trip of his lifetime,” Wangnoo says.
Wangnoo says that it was not because of the scenic nature of Sonmarg or lunch on the banks of river Sindh but mainly because his family was with him.
“He was a nature lover and would always ask for the rides to the middle of the lake from where he would swim to the banks of Nigeen,” he said.
Wangnoo has known Shashi Kapoor very closely and he says that his wife Jenniffer Kapoor is the reason why he was much humble and a grounded person. He says that Shashi Kapoor was very fortunate to have Jenniffer Kapoor as his wife.
“Like a dedicated wife, she would prepare his clothes in the morning and take care of the kids when he was away on the location for the shoot,” Wangnoo says.
Shashi was so fond of Wangnoo that in 1983, he introduced a British actress, Julie Christe to him and asked him to make the arrangements for her week’s stay. Christe spent a week in Wangnoos houseboat at Nigeen lake while she was busy shooting for a movie called ‘Heat and Dust’. Shashi played Nawab of Khatm in the film.
“When I first met him, I never expected him to be so much humble. One day he returned from the location of the movie early. He saw our kids playing in the garden along with his family. He quickly went inside the houseboat and changed his clothes, came back and started playing with the kids,” Wangnoo remembers.
“I have this ancestral business and people from different walks of life stay with me and my family. Out of 100, only 3-4 people appeal to your heart. Shashi was one of them.”
Wangnoo’s only regret is that 2014 floods washed away the memories of his late friend. “I had a lot of albums and gifts given by the actor, but unfortunately floods damaged them and I am left with nothing now of him.”
Wangnoo says that he was shocked when his son told him about the demise of his friend. “I scolded my son thinking he was joking. Later, he showed me the news on his phone. I could only mutter a prayer.”
“He came in summers, he came in winters, he came in autumn and he came in spring. Alas! He will never come again,” Wangnoo sighs.