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Room Number 17 at Kolkata’s Fairlawn Hotel Mourns Shashi Kapoor’s Demise

The hotel in the city’s bustling 33-A Sudder Street was the one where Kapoor and his wife, late English actress Jennifer Kendal, stayed for their honeymoon in 1958.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:December 4, 2017, 11:16 PM IST
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Room Number 17 at Kolkata’s Fairlawn Hotel Mourns Shashi Kapoor’s Demise
Shashi Kapoor with the hotel's manager during one of his visits. (Photo: CNN-News18)
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Kolkata: Veteran actor Shashi Kapoor breathed his last at a Mumbai hospital on Monday evening, and in Kolkata, staff at the Fairlawn Hotel broke down and reminisced about the 79-year-old’s long association with this colonial-era structure.

The hotel in the city’s bustling 33-A Sudder Street was the one where Kapoor and his wife, late English actress Jennifer Kendal, stayed for their honeymoon in 1958.

Room number 17, which overlooks the palms in the courtyard of this 200-year-old green building, was his favourite, the room he always chose when he visited the city. It was dubbed the 'Shashi Kapoor Room'. His last visit was 12 years ago.

Rabindra Nath Pal, who has been manager at the hotel for 42 years, described Kapoor’s death as a personal loss for him. “Shashi da always used to prefer Room number 17. He spread a lot of love. I don’t have words to express my pain and grief,” he said.

Pal said that Kapoor had built some wonderful memories with his wife here. The two had met in 1956 while travelling with their respective theatre groups. Kapoor was a stage manager with Prithvi Theatre, while Jennifer was a part of her father Geoffery Kendal's Shakespearana group.

fairlawn hotel
Room number 17 at the Fairlawn hotel was christened the 'Shashi Kapoor Room'. (Photo: CNN-News18)

“He was very down to earth. He never used to show off his connections or boast about how big star he is. I was just an employee of a hotel. I was nothing in front of him but he used to call me his friend. Today, I lost a true friend and pray to god that where ever he is may his soul rest in peace,” an inconsolable Pal said.

Talking about the actor’s last visit in 2005, Pal said he had come for a book launch and to participate in some exercises with a theatre group from England. “I was not aware that he is in Kolkata. In the morning, I went to my office and was surprised to see him standing at the main gate and chatting with the gatekeeper,” he said.

Pal said he asked Kapoor why was he standing at the gate and was not inside. “After all, he was a valued guest and could have gone straight to his favourite room. He hugged me and said, ‘ami cha khabo (I want to have tea). I am craving for cha’ (tea).”

Pal immediately asked one of the boys to bring a Darjeeling tea for Kapoor, but Kapoor stopped the bell boy and again asked for tea.

“I was confused and told him that Darjeeling is the best tea I could offer him. Then he said, ‘Pal babu, I want to have tea from a roadside tea stall in an earthen cup. Then we both went to a road side tea stall and he had his kulhar chai’.”

The hotel manager said Kapoor had gifted his wife a silver idol of Lord Ganesha. “It is a prized possession.” At the time, we didn’t know he would not come again. “Now, room number 17 in our hotel mourns his loss.”

Chandan Chatterjee, another staffer here, said it was a sad news for all of them. “He was an inspiration for all of us and everyone in this hotel used to love him a lot.”

Kapoor, who acted in more than 160 films in a career spanning several decades, died after a prolonged illness.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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