'Achcha to hum chalte hain': Rajesh Khanna bids a quiet adieu

New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) From the dizzying heights of fame to quiet shadows behind the arclights, Rajesh Khanna's life had a theatrical sweep, almost like one of his films. Bollywood's original superstar - simply the phenomenon to some - died in Mumbai Wednesday, leaving behind memories cast in celluloid of that famous crooked smile and head tilt. He was only 69.

In an era long before this age of instant connect of mobile phones and internet, Rajesh Khanna was the man who sparked a frenzy never seen before and never since, not even by the likes of Amitabh Bachchan.

His very name spelt magic in the 1970s. He sparked hysteria, particularly amongst 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'.

Truly, "O mere di ke chain"!

Kaka, as he was popularly known, was one of the highest paid actors of his time, his record of consecutive solo super hits still unbroken. Who can forget the years between 1970-1979 when he starred in mega hits like "Safar", "Kati Patang", "Sachaa Jhutha", "Aan Milo Sajna", "Anand", "Amar Prem" and "Mere Jeevan Saathi". Ever the urbane, suave romantic who wooed like few others.

Glory and fame galore came his way with the two 1969 films - "Aradhana" and "Do Raaste" - where he teamed up with two of his best co-stars, Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz, respectively. Both the films were super hits. Hindi film's first superstar was born.

Between "Aradhana" in 1969 and "Prem Kahani" in 1975, Rajesh enjoyed god-like status.

It was all about charisma - a certain something that went beyond the art of acting. He had that unique way of delivering a dialogue, of crinkling his eyes and that interesting head tilt that were all his own - and designed to get fans swooning.

Describing the charm of Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh once said: "I got famous purely because I was working with Rajesh Khanna in 'Anand'. People asked me questions like, 'How is he to look at? What does he do?'"

The mega story had a small beginning in Amritsar. Born Jatin Arora on Dec 29, 1942, he was adopted and raised by foster parents.

He went from being Jatin to Rajesh, thanks to his uncle who changed his name, when he decided to join films.

In 1965, the journey to filmdom started after he won the All India Talent Contest organised by United Producers and Filmfare. He made his debut with "Aakhri Khat" in 1966.

It was a fairly easy road to superstardom after that.

He became the heartthrob of the nation, singing timeless melodies like "Mere Sapnon Ki Rani..." in "Aradhana", "Zindagi Ek Safar" in "Andaaz" or "Yeh Shaam Mastani" in "Kati Patang". Singer Kishore Kumar and composer R.D. Burman were amongst his closest friends.

In his four-decade career, he appeared in about 160 films, of which 106 had him as the solo lead hero and 22 were two hero projects.

Rajesh proved his mettle in offbeat films too. He teamed up with Hrishikesh Mukherjee for the critically acclaimed "Bawarchi" and "Namak Haram". The quintessential romantic also did the intense "Avishkar", directed by Basu Bhattacharya.

But then age caught up and the star began fading away.

He moved to television and played the main lead in two serials - "Ittefaque" and "Apne Paraye" during 2001-02 and also featured in "Raghukul Reet Sada Chali Aayi" between 2008-09.

The decline to B-grade films was inevitable. There was also the sorry "Wafa" with Laila Khan, who was found murdered this July.

He dabbled in politics, being Congress MP from the New Delhi constituency from 1991-1996.

Like the Hollywood legends of yore, the personal life also had a larger than life dimension.

He fell in love with Dimple Kapadia, who was only 16 and whose first film "Bobby" was yet to release. She was 15 years younger to him but the pull was strong and they got married after a whwhirwind romance in 1973.

It was the stuff of tabloid headlines. They had two daughters Twinkle and Rinke. The marriage lasted only 11 years.

It was a lonely life for Rajesh after that. He disappeared from the headlines and appeared to be a shadow of his former self in his rare public appearances.

But the family came together in his last days. His estranged wife was the one who took care of him during his illness. Son-in-law Akshay Kumar was also a great comfort.

Rajesh reappeared in an ad a few months before his death, and once again became the talk of town - he was clearly unwell but the zest in his voice was intact as he intoned "Babumoshai" from his much loved film "Anand".

Like Anand from the film, the man is gone. But the memories will live on.

--

Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Yahoo Cricket

Latest News

  • My son doesn't get affected: Malaika on item songs

    Mumbai, April 19 (IANS) Actress-producer Malaika Arora, who has changed the dynamics of item songs in Bollywood, says she enjoys dancing and her son doesn't get affected by her work. If he likes the song, he comes up and says that he liked it. "For me, personally I think songs are part of the film and it's fun to be a part of a song but it also depends on how it's going to be publicised and picturised. The term item number may be looked at in a derogatory way in showbiz, but the "Chaiyya …

  • Sonam begins filming Neerja Bhanot biopic

    Mumbai, April 19 (IANS) Actress Sonam Kapoor has begun shooting for the biopic of Neerja Bhanot, a Pan Am chief purser who was gunned down by terrorists when Flight 73 was hijacked in Karachi in 1986. Sonam feels humbled to be a part of the biopic, which is ace photographer Atul Kasbekar's debut production. Kasbekar wished for good luck for the film and tweeted: "#NeerjaBhanot Her story begins today... Wish us luck." Actors Riteish Deshmukh and Dia Mirza and former Balaji Telefilms CEO Tanuj …

  • Helen is unbelievable on screen: Malaika

    Mumbai, April 19 (IANS) Actress-producer Malaika Arora Khan, also known for her dancing skills, says there is nobody like yesteryear's dancing diva Helen. Asked how she reacts when people compare her to Helen, who is married to the former's father-in-law Salim Khan, Malaika told IANS: "I don't think there is any comparison. She is unbelievable on screen." While Helen remains Malaika's all-time favourite, the latter is also all praise for actress Deepika Padukone. "For me, my favourite is …

  • I'm hungry for roles: Lalu Alex

    Kochi, April 19 (IANS) It's been over three decades since Lalu Alex began to don the grease paint, but the Malayalam actor says he still has "the fire in me and I'm certainly hungry for roles". In his long cinematic career, he has featured in more than 300 films like "Ee Nadu", "Padheyam", "Chronic Bachelor" and "How Old Are You". …

  • Nikita lands special song in 'Paayam Puli'

    Chennai, April 19 (IANS) Kannada actress Nikita Thukral has been roped in for a special folk number in Vishal Krishna Reddy-starrer Tamil actioner "Paayam Puli". …

  • 'XXX' planned with fresh talent: Ken Ghosh

    Mumbai, April 19 (IANS) Filmmaker Ken Ghosh has rubbished rumours that he asked actor Shahid Kapoor to star in his upcoming film "XXX" saying the plan was always to cast "fresh young talent". …

  • Happy birthday, B-town wishes Arshad Warsi

    Mumbai, April 19 (IANS) Arshad Warsi turned 47 on Sunday and Bollywood celebrities like Jackky Bhagnani and Sonu Sood showered the actor with birthday wishes. …

  • Hughes' bat, jerseys head to Mount Everest
    Hughes' bat, jerseys head to Mount Everest

    By Gopal Sharma KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Chhurim Sherpa began her journey for a third ascent to Mount Everest on Sunday but this time some odd items were also part of her climbing gear. Chhurim, who is the first woman to climb the 8,850 metre (29,035 feet) Everest summit twice in a week, will take a cricket bat and two jerseys belonging to deceased Australian cricketer Phil Hughes to the summit as a mark of tribute to the player. …

Loading...