Bollywood’s original superstar Rajesh Khanna, who died on Wednesday afternoon in Mumbai following critical illness, will continue to live on in our hearts forever.
The 69-year-old actor, who had been in and out of hospital since April, was discharged from the Lilavati hospital two days back.
However, the cause of his health problems was kept secret by his family members and the hospital authorities.
Born as Jatin Khanna on December 29, 1942, Khanna was adopted and raised by foster parents. He began taking interest in acting while in school and performed in a number of plays. It was his uncle who changed Khanna\\\’s first name to Rajesh.
The actor, who married Dimple Kapadia, 15 years younger to him, in 1973, split with her in 1984 but the couple never divorced. Kapadia was constantly at Khanna\\\’s side during his illness.
In 1965, he won an all India talent contest organised by United Producers and Filmfare and as a result made his debut the next year in Aakhri Khat, directed by Chetan Anand. His second film Raaz was also a part of his predetermined prize for winning the competition.
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\\\’.
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.
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?\\\’"
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". SingerKishore 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.
But then age caught up and the star began fading away. The years in between he did some movies, but the man had disappeared into shadow.
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.
He is survived by wife Dimple Kapadia and daughters Twinkle and Rinkie.
Like Anand from the film, the man is gone. But the memories will live on.