RAJESH KHANNA - 29 DEC. 1942 - 18 JUL. 2012

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It appears July 2012 is proving very tragic for the Film Industry. Just last week we lost a gem of a man, actor -producer, World Champion Wrestler and Ex-MP Dara Singh. And now another tragedy struck by destiny in snatching Jatin- Rajesh Khanna (and KAKA), the First ever-Super star the India discovered.

Although, born in Amritsar, he was nurtured in our own Mumbai with childhood pal another legendary actor and now a top Corporate honcho of Balaji - Ravi Kapoor-Jitendra.

Till mid sixties, bollywood cluttered with many talented heroes like Motilal, Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kumar and Rajendra (Jubilee) Kumar each legend in his own way (Thanks God great thespian Dilip saab is still with us) and the film goers were happy. But there was a big void for fresh faces to take over. The then United Producers Council in association with the popular magazine FILMFARE, had arranged an all India competition to hunt for fresh talents in 1965. Two names had passed the talent test with flying colours viz; Jatin-Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra Deol. Both went on proving their merit and worth and established themselves as popular star legends.

First to use the sparkling talent of Kaka was late Chetan Anand with “Aakhri Khat”. Audiences appreciated RK’s work but the film did not ring box office. G P Sippy’s “Raaz” was more successful followed by a few other pot boilers like “Train” and “Aurat”. But he gave real sparks of his range of histrionics in next films "Bahron Ke Sapne” and “Ittefaq”. In 1967 Shakti Samanta’s block buster, trend setter “Aradhana” came. And Overnight, Rajesh Khanna was born as a star eclipsing all his senior contemporaries on the screen firmament. He displayed enormous range of varied and natural expressions in “Aradhana” aided and abetted by the most melodious music of SD Burman and talented supports from Sharmila Tagore and debutant Farida Jalal. All over the country, millions of audiences started swooning and falling for Rajesh. Then came another box office musical blast “Do Raaste” of Raj Khosla opposite Mumtaz as his heroine. After this, his popularity soared to an unassailable peak of those times, especially amongst the girls who were ready to die for his single ‘mannerism’. Many girls were so mad after him to write love letters in their blood.Hudreds used to wait for him outside studios to simply have a glimpse. He was the ‘King of Romance’ for them. Indeed he had the mesmerising effect, so much so that the Indian and Foreign media conferred him the title of SUPER STAR. The then popular columnist of “Star and Style’ Devyani Chaubal went further to name him as the “First Ever Super Star in India”. His another outstanding film was “Anand” (with Amitabh Bachchan as supporting actor) followd by “Namak Haraam” of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. When he was at peak, one fine night while having a Sea-walk with the then young sensational and beautious star discovery of Raj Kapoor’s “Bobby” Dimple Kapadia, he proposed for marriage which Dimple could not refuse. That was in 1973. Kaka’s Charisma as ‘Super Star’ lasted till 1975. Thereafter, call it a quirk of fate, his own mistakes or the arrival of the now "Millennium Super Star Amitabh Bachchan” in the arena, his craze and charisma started waning, films continued to flop, creating tensions and insecurity for him. His historic separation from Dimple came in 1984, but he continued to star or produce films actively till 1990. Even in lean period, he gave us gems like, “Kati Patang”, “Amar Prem”, “Amardeep” “Avatar’’, ‘Aap Ki Kasam’ etc. He also dabbled in film production but failed.

Rajesh Khanna’s case is perhaps a unique one. As his rise to the ‘Peak’ was quick so was his fall. The analysts feel that perhaps he could have succeeded in his career further, but for the shocking setback, his separation from wife Dimple and his loneliness in his palatial bungalow ‘Ashirwaad’ (There itself today, he breathed his last). There was no dearth of female company for him. For a while the then young heroine Tina Munim was attached with him for a brief period. Then his association for the ex-flame actress Anju Mahendro was also talked about. But the man who had seen a ‘Zenith of Mass adoration’ had to seek other avenues like politics, which he pursued from 1991 and became the Member of Parliament as a Congress Candidate till 1996. Thereafter also he remained in political arena till late eighties. This was the period when this writer had a few opportunities to meet him in person in film/celebrity parties. I remember, whenever I wanted to talk to him, he preferred to talk more on politics than the film world. But his reverberating and clear voice was intact without showing any frustration. Even in parties, he used to wear Khadi Kurta and Pajama like a congressman of those days. But he had his sense of Humor intact. As MP once he had inaugurated an event. I said to him "Kaka, we miss you, since you don't act in movies now". he mesmerized with his smile first then answered: "Arre bhai, aajkal "Netagiri" mein acting hi to karni pad rahi hai." A big laughter from all followed.

In a career span of 30 years, Kaka has about 163 feature films (128 as solo lead) to his credit out of which 35 were the Silver, Gold or diamond jubilees. My choice of his memorable landmark films are ‘ Aradhana’, ‘Do Raaste’, ‘Anand’, ‘Amar Prem’, ‘Namak Haraam’, ‘Avtaar’ and “Kati Patang’. In tally of numerous awards, he had 2 Lifetime Achievement awards, 3 awards from Filmfare and 5 from BFJA, as best actor awards. His pairing as heroine was best with Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz and Asha Parekh earning him huge popularity. His most popular screen crooning voice was Kishore Kumar and favourite directors Shakti and Hrishi da.

For last many months, he has been suffering from some ‘undisclosed’ disease, in and out of the Hospital frequently, but that had provided him a genuine solace and warmth and care of his family –estranged wife Dimple, daughters Twinkle, Rinky and his star son in law Akhshya Kumar.

May God Rest his Soul in Peace. Amen !


Written by: 

Mohan Siroya



Good expostion. Thanks Bubna Dolly

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