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— photo inset- Sashadhar Mukherjee   

Sashadhar Mukherji: The Man Who Told Shammi Kapoor ‘Shave Off Your Moustache’

The doyen of the Indian film industry, Sashadhar Mukerji, who initially joined Bombay Talkies and went on to create Filmistan and Filmalaya Studios, was considered the man with the Midas touch. He not only launched several new faces who have become a runaway success stories but his entire family right from his sons (Joy, Deb, and Shomu), grandson (Ayan), grand-daughter (Kajol), relatives (Ashok, Kishore, and Anup Kumar) are part of the film fraternity. It is a huge extended family. Actually, he was the brain behind the concept of formula films. A legend in his own lifetime, Mukherji was approached by Shammi Kapoor constantly for a big break. “Sir, you have made so many stars, when are you going to do something for me?” This persistence by Shammi went on for some time till one day Mukherji said: “Shave off your moustache and see me tomorrow.” Without wasting time, Shammi landed at his office the next day sans moustache and producer Mukherji signed him for Tum Sa Nahi Dekha which was directed by Nasir Hussain. Interestingly, this film became a launch pad for heroine Ameeta, director Hussain and catapulted a struggling Shammi Kapoor into the big league. Shammi told the undersigned: “I had a Hillman car those days. Even before the release of the film, I sold it and went on a holiday to the Far East. I knew when I return, I shall be a star!”