indian cinema heritage foundation

Surinder Kapoor

  • Born: 23 December 1925 (Peshawar, British India)
  • Died: 25 September 2011 (Mumbai)
  • Spouse: Nirmal Kapoor
  • Children: Boney Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor
  • Grand Children: Sonam Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Janhvi Kapoor, Khushi Kapoor, Shanaya Kapoor

Producer Surinder Kapoor is known for films such as Jab Se Tumhe Dekha Hai (1963), Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati (1969), Ponga Pandit (1975), Hum Paanch (1980), Woh 7 Din (1983), Mr India (1987), Loafer (1996), Judaai (1997), Pukar (2000), Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hain (2000), and No Entry (2005). He successfully remade several hit Kannada, Tamil and Telugu films. An industry veteran, he served as president of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India from 1995 to 2001 and was felicitated with the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award. 

Born in Peshawar, British India (in present-day Pakistan) on 23 December 1925, his family was distantly related to the Prithviraj Kapoor clan. In Peshawar, he worked for a local newspaper called Janta Weekly, which belonged to the Socialist Party. He was their sales representative; however, he did not like the job. When he told his cousin Prithviraj Kapoor that he wanted to come to Bombay for a job, the latter asked him to come over. He was 27 at the time. As soon as Kapoor came to the city, Prithviraj took him to K Asif and got him a job as an assistant director on the sets of the epic Mughal-e-Azam (1960). However, since the film was in the making for 10 years, he moved on mid-way. 

Kapoor had become good friends with Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali, Hindi film star of the 1950s, and also handled Bali’s work as a secretary. He gives credit to her for helping him become a producer. She helped him get financiers, and a good crew. While he could have made his first production, Jab Se Tumhe Dekha Hai (1963), with Madhubala, he insisted on casting Geeta, who was on the verge of retirement. The film did not do well. 

After three-four years in Bombay, he returned to Peshawar to get married. When he returned to the city, he started living in Sion and later, Chembur. He would later share that he never had to struggle because he was always working. Calling himself an unsuccessful producer, he would declare that he could not give a single hit in his entire career but still, financiers and distributors put their money in his projects.

Kapoor carved his way through producing films, establishing his banner S K International Films. His first successful production was Shehzada (1972) starring film star Rajesh Khanna and Raakhee, which became a huge box office hit. Directed by K Shankar, it was set during the British Raj, and had music composed by R D Burman. In an interview, speaking about how he established S K International Films, Kapoor maintained that Rajesh Khanna, who played the title role in his maiden hit production, was truly of a princely disposition. Despite being the top star of the time, Khanna apparently started shooting for Kapoor without even discussing the price, saying that it would be settled once the film was made. This, said Kapoor, helped establish S K International Films as an acknowledged production company.

Kapoor’s subsequent releases such as Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan (1978) and were flops, due to which he went into huge debts. However, the 1980s took his production ventures to new heights, with the vision of his son Boney Kapoor. Remaking successful South Indian films became an instant hit with the Hindi film audience. Films like Hum Paanch (1980), Woh 7 Din (1983), Mr India (1987), Loafer (1996), Judaai (1997), and Pukar (2000) were some of his most renowned productions. 

Hum Paanch was an action film directed by Bapu. It featured an all-star cast including Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Mithun Chakraborty, Naseeruddin Shah, Raj Babbar, Gulshan Grover and Amrish Puri. The film saw Kapoor’s son Boney serve as producer, while his younger son Anil made a cameo appearance onscreen. The film was an adaptation of the Mahabharata, in a rural scenario, with hints of the clashes between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

The romantic drama Woh Saat Din, directed by Bapu, starred Anil Kapoor, Padmini Kolhapure and Naseeruddin Shah. It was Anil Kapoor's first lead role in a Hindi film. It told the tale of Maya, coming from a poor family, who is married to the affluent Dr Anand; but she tries to commit suicide on the nuptial night. 

Mr India, the superhero film, which Kapoor produced jointly with son Boney, starred Anil Kapoor, Sridevi, and Amrish Puri. The screenplay and story were penned by Salim-Javed, marking their last collaboration before their split. The film focused on Arun Verma, a poor street violinist and philanthropist, who receives a cloaking device that grants him invisibility. While renting out his house to pay his debts, he meets the journalist Seema Sohni and falls in love with her. The film emerged as a critical and commercial success and became the second highest-grossing film of the year at the Indian box office. It was also an overseas hit in China. Receiving widespread acclaim from contemporary and modern critics, it was a breakthrough for its director and cast members and became a milestone in Hindi cinema. It pioneered the then rarely-filmed superhero genre, which was to start a trend in later years. The film’s performances also won appreciation, with Sridevi receiving a special award at the Filmfare Awards. It would also be remade in Tamil and Kannada. 

Kapoor’s production Loafer, a ‘masala’ film, was directed by David Dhawan. An action comedy romance, it depicted the life of Ravi, an unemployed man who constantly gets into fights. When he is framed for the murder of a gangster, with no support from his family, he must fight to prove his innocence. The film was met with commercial success. 

His Judaai was a romantic comedy drama directed by Raj Kanwar. Starring Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Urmila Matondkar, the plot revolved around the travails of a greedy wife who, lured by wealth, convinces her husband to marry a second time. A major commercial success, the film was widely praised for the performances of the lead actresses. 

His action thriller Pukaar, directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, starred Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, and Namrata Shirodkar. It received critical acclaim, but did average business at the box office. It went on to win two National film awards – the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration and Best Actor (Anil Kapoor). 

As is evident, Surinder Kapoor’s most successful films figured on his son Anil Kapoor’s rising stardom and gave rise to much-loved chemistry with the already popular Sridevi. Kapoor’s younger son, Sanjay Kapoor was the lead actor in the romance film Sirf Tum (1999). Anil went on to become a successful Hindi film actor, while Boney is a well-known producer, and Sanjay has acted in many films. Kapoor’s daughter-in-law Sridevi, who was married to Boney, was a leading film actress. His daughter, Reena, is married to Sandeep Marwah of Marwah Films and Video Studios. His grandchildren are also in films, including Sonam Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Janhvi Kapoor, Khushi Kapoor and Shanaya Kapoor

Surinder Kapoor succumbed to a cardiac arrest on 25 September 2011. He had gone for a walk in the evening, returned, drank a glass of water and suffered a heart attack while he was untying the laces of his shoes. He was 86. His film legacy is continued by his children and grandchildren.


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