By Mohammed Mobeen Ahmed
The culture of Superstar began with Rajesh Khanna, when he was acclaimed the first superstar in the history of bollywood. The duration when the big studios reigned the cinema world. Mr Khanna had a charismatic popularity and uniqueness of the kind that would drive his lovers crazy. Just a glimpse of his sight would make them faint, gash their wrists, and send letters written in blood.
Mr. Khanna relished exceptional popularity, be it a dressing style or action. Mr. Khanna revolutionized the concept of popularity. While his forerunners Rajkapoor and Dilip Kumar, popularized the trend of conked out hearts, but the frenzy that pursued in Rajesh khanna’s era was exclusively contrary. His hairstyle and unique kurta style was emulated by the youngsters of his time. His sideways nod and specifically his style of delivering lines were equally appreciated and accepted. In a very simple mathematical equation, Rajesh Khanna was greater than his total mannerism.
Rajesh Khanna was born on 29th December 1942, in Amritsar, Punjab, India. He was adopted by relatives of his biological parents. His birth name is Jatin, but was later changed to screen name “Rajesh” on the advice of his uncle. He is popularly known as Kaka, Rk, King of Romance, and Superstar of Indian Cinema. Jatin took an active interest in acting at an early age. Sighting this, his rich foster Uncle vetoed his decision to pursue a career in acting. But Jatin continued with his acting and won the Filmfare Talent Contest in early 1960s.
He went to school and college with his great friend Ravi Kapoor, who is today known as Jeetandra. Both studied as batch-mates in same school St. Sebastian Goan High School in Girgaum and went to Kishinchand Chellaram College for college. Khanna suggested actor Jeetendra to go for acting in movies and even showed the skill to by heart and deliver lines in drama and films.
He stormed in the Hindi films industry and savored success with the films like Baharon Ke Sapne, Raaz and Aurat. Rajesh Khanna as an actor was born with “Aakhri Khat” in which he made his debut against Indrani Mukherjee. His performance in this film was immensely applauded. Kaka, as he was widely identified, was one of the highest paid actors of his time, his record of successive solo super hits still uninterrupted. It is impossible to erase from our memory the memorable years between 1970-79 when he starred in mega hit like “Safar”, “Kati Patang”, “Sachaa Jhutha”, “Aan Milo Sajna”, “Anand”, “Amar Prem”, and “Mere Jeevan Saathi”. Even the urban, suave romantic who wooed like few others.
Finally, the superstardom was thrust upon him in Aaradhana (1969), which co-starred Sharmila Tagore, was remarkable in many ways. Rajesh Khanna’s cheery charisma in the song Mere Sapnon Ki Rani made him appealing to audiences, as did the simmering Roop Tera Mastana. He played a double role character with full confidence and ascertained his proficiency at playing the romantic hero as well as the tragic. It was also the start of the two long and successful partnership with heroine Sharmila Tagore and singer Kishore Kumar. Giving repeated hits amid them the cult Haathi Mere Saathi, Khamoshi, Kato Patang, Anand and Amar Prem followed. He won three Filmfare awards as well as the Lifetime Achievement award, along with other honors.
Regardless of his popularity position, Rajesh Khanna enacted diverse roles, the terminally ill ‘Anand’, a cany chef in ‘Bawarchi’, a lonely husband in ‘Amar Prem’, and a psychiatric patient in ‘Khamoshi’. He was one half of numerous smash hits screen pairs, with actresses Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz, Tina Munim, Asha Parekh and Hema Malini. His films contained impressive dialogues, the everlasting songs, and the biggest films of his time, dictating the Seventies and even today in all aspects. Whether it was a gloomy lover, romantic charmer or a meticulous idealist, Rajesh Khanna could fit himself into any role. His role in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Anand’, this is the image of “Rajesh Khanna” that most of his fans are likely to remember.
His very name spelt magic in the 1970s. He sparked hysteria, mainly amid his legions of women fans, who would line the road for a glimpse, chant his name, cover his car with lipstick marks and even write him letters in blood. They got married to his photograph, cut their finger, let the blood flow and applied ’sindoor’. It seems some of them even committed suicide when he got married to Dimple Kapadia.
His only Punjabi movie as the solo lead hero Til Til Da Lekha released in 1979, won the Punjab State Government award and was a Golden Jubilee Hit. Aakhri Khat, Rajesh Khanna’s first ever released film, was selected for the Oscars in the best foreign language entry in 1967.
Rajesh Khanna is credited with giving Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar their first chance to become screenplay writers by offering them work in Haathi Mere Saathi.
Such was the actor’s popularity that in lighter vein, actor-director Mehmood parodied him in ‘Bombay to Goa’ where the driver and conductor of the bus were called ’Rajesh’ and ’Khanna’.
Rajesh Khanna was Member of Parliament for New Delhi constituency from 1991-1996. He had been a Congress activist since 1990 and has campaigned for Congress party since 1984 at the insistence of Rajiv Gandhi.
India’s first superstar, Rajesh Khanna who was battling cancer, passed away at his Bandra residence in Mumbai. The veteran actor had been suffering from bad health for quite sometime and had already visited the hospital thrice due to ill health. Mr. Khanna’s body was adorned with garlands of white roses, mogra and chrysanthemums. It was enclosed in a glass case mounted on a truck decorated with flowers. The funeral procession began from Mr. Khanna’s bungalow, ‘Aashirwad,’ on Carter Road in suburban Bandra.
And that was end of Phenomenal Spuerstar Safar...