Rajesh Khanna, the romantic hero, the heart-throb of millions of people, breathed his last on Wednesday after a brief illness at his residence in Mumbai. He was 69. His estranged wife, Dimple Kapadia, also a renowned actress, and his two daughters Twinkle & Rinkle were by his bedside at the time of his death.
He was ailing for a few months and everyone thought that his ailment was age related and he would be alright very soon. That was not to be, and his son-in-law Akshay Kumar (Actor) informed the media that he passed away on Wednesday after a brief illness.
Rajesh Khanna, proudly called ‘Kakaji’ by his friends and admirers was born on 29 Dec 1942. In 1966 he was selected amongst 50 contestants to become an actor in United Artists contest and Chetan Anand gave him a break in Akhri Khat.
Those who lived in the era of late 1960s-early 1970s saw his phenominal rise to stardom. His filmy career certainly reads like a fairy tale.
He appeared in 163 feature films of which in 128 films he was the leading artist; he appeared in 17 short films as well. He won three Filmfare Best Actor Awards and was nominated for the same fourteen times. He received the most BFJA Awards for Best Actor (Hindi) – four times and nominated 25 times. In 1991, he was awarded the Filmfare Special Award for completing 25 years in the industry, appearing in a record 106 films as the single lead protagonist in a span of 25 years. In 2005, he was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.
Rajesh Khanna was adopted and raised by foster parents – Chunni Lal Khanna and Leela Wati Khanna, who were relatives of his biological parents, after his father had migrated from pre-partitioned Pakistan to the city of Amritsar in 1940. His original name was Jatin Arora.
He acted in two movies as a part of his winner’s prize in the UA competition. In those two years, and the movies that followed, made him a superstar of Bollywood. He became a talk of every household with the release of Aradhna with Sharmila Tagore (1968) made him a super-star. The song from this movie ‘Mere Sapnon Ki Rani Kab Aayegi Tu’ was picturised with Rajesh Khanna sitting in a jeep, driving alongside a train wherein the dimpled-cheeks beauty Sharmila Tagore sat looking out of the window. This song became instant success and was later sung by his fans in the streets all over the country.
He followed up his charishma with Safar (1970) Kati Patang (1971) Amar Prem and Bawarchi (both in 1972). His every movie was a hit at the box office. Actually Aradhna catapulted him to stardom and gave him the super star status.
Girls from all over the country were mad after him and some of them sent him letters written in blood after slashing their wrists. But he was fond of fashion designer and Actress Anju Mahendru and were in relationship for 7 years.
Khanna married Dimple Kapadia in March 1973, six months before Dimple’s debut film Bobby released and has two daughters from the marriage. Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia separated in 1984. Their elder daughter Twinkle Khanna is married to actor Akshay Kumar, while they also have a younger daughter Rinke Khanna.
I still wonder whether both Kishore Kumar (Singer) and R.D.Burman (Music Director) would have been successsful had Rajesh Khanna not been present on the screen?
I should mention here that recently I struck a gold-mine when I bought three MP3s of songs sung by Kishore Kumar and they contain almost all the popular songs picturised on Rajesh Khanna.
Rajesh Khanna was a style icon in the 70s. His centre-parting hair style, his high-neck half-sleeve short kurta, his gurkha-topi and high neck jacket were copied by all young boys.
News of his untimely demise spread like wild fire and fans on twitter sent down lakhs of tweets for hours after that. Twitteratti were tweeting his famous songs and dialogues spoken by him in his movies.
It was actually Hrishikesh Mukherjee who made him a super-star with two films featuring him in ‘Anand’ and ‘Bawarchi’.
His movie ‘Anand’ [which I have seen more than 25 times] almost made him immortal. Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the movie and it’s sound track are played in many households even today. It’s dialogues are mimicked and repeated by his fans.
The most touching part of his life which everyone remembers was the death scene picturised on him at the end of the movie Anand. After the death scene, this dialogue in the background audio says it all –
Babu Moshaiye – Anand mara nahi … Anand mara nahi karte .
Another very meaningful song picturiesd on Rajesh Khanna in ‘Safar’ was ‘Zindagi ka safar has yeh kaisa safar, koi samjha nahin koi jana nahin’ and how aptly it describes his life too.
Rest In Peace Rajesh Khanna ji. Your spirit shall live forever.