Nicknamed ‘Jumping Jack’ for his athletic dance moves and equally popular for his shiny white shoes and matching trousers, Jeetendra had his own loyal audience, staying doggedly at the crease through the reigns of superstars Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. Whether it was romantic rendezvous in films like Tumhari Kasam (1978), Ek Hi Bhool (1981), Mawaali (1983), or playing more serious characters in films like Parichay (1972), Dulhan(1974), Khushboo (1975), Kinara (1977), and Meri Awaz Suno (1981) or even essaying senior leading roles in Udhaar Ki Zindagi (1994) and Santaan (1993), Jeetendra proved himself as an actor of substance, and one of the Hindi film industry’s most dependable stars with an active acting career that spanned the 1960s to the 1990s. Popular for his dancing, he reinvented his career in the 80s, featuring in successful remakes of South Indian films. He worked in approximately 93 films as the solo lead hero, and as a lead hero in 103 multi-star films. An actor, as well as TV and film producer as Chairman of Balaji Telefilms, Balaji Motion Pictures and ALT Entertainment, Jeetendra has been awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the Screen Lifetime Achievement Award.
Born Ravi Kapoor on 7 April, into a Punjabi family in Amritsar, Punjab, to parents Amarnath and Krishna Kapoor, he schooled at St. Sebastian's Goan High School in Girgaum, Bombay, and studied further at Siddharth College. His introduction to films happened courtesy his family business of imitation jewellery. It was while supplying jewellery to V Shantaram, that he was cast in a song in the film Navrang (1959). His first big break came with V Shantaram's Boond Jo Ban Gayee Moti (1964), followed by Farz (1967) which saw him walk the path of success. He also set fashion trends in Farz itself, with his tee shirt and white shoes purchased from a retail store for the song Mast Baharon Ka Main Aashiq number, becoming his signature style statement. He went on to act in films like Humjoli (1970) and Caravan (1971) which offered scope for dancing, leading to him making a name as a dancing star. In the 70s he attempted to change his dancing star image by appearing in more sombre roles, particularly in Gulzar’s films like Parichay (1972), Khushboo (1975) and Kinara (1977). He had been impressed by Gulzar’s dialogues in Anand (1971) and wanted to work with him.
Acting in nearly 200 films as the main lead, Jeetendra was known for his punctuality in an era infamous for the chronic tardiness of its mega stars. He was also self-effacing and generous about the talents of his colleagues, and eventually delivered a better hit rate than some of his more famous contemporaries. He worked with Dharmendraand had combined hits like Dharam Veer (1977), Jaani Dost (1983), and Insaaf Ki Pukar (1987). He also made a successful combination with his childhood friend, Rajesh Khanna, delivering blockbusters in the 80s such as Dharam Kanta (1982), Nishaan (1983) and Maqsad (1984), which was the highest box office earner of the year.
Among actresses, his popular co-stars were Mumtaz, Hema Malini, Moushumi Chatterjee, Reena Roy, Neetu Singh, Sulakshana Pandit, Rekha and Bindiya Goswami. In the 80s, he was frequently paired with Jaya Prada and Sridevi for remakes of South films by makers such as Rama Rao Tatineni, K. Bapayya and K. Raghavendra Rao in films like Mawaali (1983),Himmatwala (1983) and Tohfa (1984). While these productions were not known for their overall quality, they proved to be commercially successful.
Jeetendra is also known for playing double roles in several films such as Jigri Dost (1969), Jaise Ko Taisa (1973), Dulhan (1975), Jyoti Bane Jwala (1980), Meri Awaz Suno (1981), Pyaasa Sawan (1981), Farz Aur Kanoon (1982), Mawaali (1983), Justice Chaudhary (1983), Sarfarosh (1985), and Singhasan (1986).
Jeetendra married his early love, Shobha after the release of his film Bidaai (1974), in a simple ceremony at Janki Kutir with only a few family members and friends such as Gulzar, Rajesh Khanna and Sanjeev Kumar in attendance. In her authorized biography, Hema Malini revealed that she and Jeetendra nearly got married, but that she had backed out.
Jeetendra and Shobha have two children—daughter, Ekta Kapoor, who runs Balaji Telefilms, and son Tusshar Kapoor who is an actor. Jeetendra was recently seen onscreen in a brief appearance in the thriller Kucch To Hai (2002), produced by daughter Ekta Kapoor in which he appeared along with son Tusshar.
He has also worked in television, judging two reality shows, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and Dancing Queen. He also made an appearance on Ekta Kapoor’s successful teleseries, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. He also featured in ALT Balaji’s Baarish 2, a family drama series.