Bollywood Mourns the Death of first superstar Rajesh Khanna
Bollywood's original superstar Rajesh Khanna passed away in Mumbai today. He was 69, and leaves behind a legacy of extraordinary films.
by Archana Chaudhary
Rajesh Khanna, fondly referred to as Kakaji or Kaka, passed away in Mumbai today. He was 69, and was surrounded by ex-wife actress Dimple Kapadia, daughters Twinkle Khanna, Rinke Khanna and son-in-law Akshay Khanna.
Khanna, shot to superstardom with the 1969 hit Aradhana opposite Sharmila Tagore, passed away at his home, a day after being discharged from Mumbai's Lilavati hospital. He had been ailing since April. Expressing shock at the demise of Khanna, veteran actor Hema Malini who worked with him in films such as Kudrat and Mehbooba said she always hoped that he would recover. "We always thought he would come back (from the hospital). We are in shock right now," Hema told a TV news channel.
Though a romantic hero, Khanna essayed a variety of roles with ease in his illustrious career spanning four decades. His portrayal as a cancer patient in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee-film Anand (1971) in which he got the better of Amitabh Bachchan left many teary eyed. His dialogues from Anand achieved cult status. Yesteryear actress Mumtaz, who acted with him in many hits, said the actor was "very close" to her even though he came across as an introvert to others. Mumtaz said she was "crying the whole morning", but was happy that she had met the ailing Khanna last month, when the two discussed their respective battles with cancer.
"He told me that I am a strong person, and that he knew what I had gone through, the chemotherapy sessions. He said he did not feel hungry, and we joked that when lots of food was ordered for him, it was later enjoyed by all, except him," said Mumtaz who is a breast cancer survivor.
Khanna and Mumtaz acted in 10 films, including memorable ones such as Ap Ki Kasam, Roti, Apna Desh and Sachcha Jhootha. Mumtaz said that every film that she and Khanna acted in became a super hit. As the news of Khanna's death spread, hundreds of teary-eyed fans descended at his bungalow Ashirwad in suburban, Mumbai. "My father-in-law is no more. He has gone to a nice and heavenly place. I am happy that he has gone there and hope that everyone will pray for him," his son-in-law and actor Akshay Kumar told the media.
Several Bollywood celebrities including actors Rishi Kapoor, Prem Chopra and filmmaker Sajid Khan visited Khanna's home to pay homage to the actor. The political fraternity including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too condoled his demise. "I convey my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family and countless fans and admirers of Shri Rajesh Khanna," he said in his condolence message.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi too expressed deep sorrow and grief at the demise of Rajesh Khanna. In the early 90's Khanna had a successful political career as a congress leader. During his illustrious career Khanna gave 15 consecutive solo super hits between 1969 and 1972 including Aradhana, Haathi Mere Saathi, Anand and Amar Prem.
Debuting with Akhri Khat, which he bagged after winning a talent contest in 1965, Khanna went on to star in over 180 films. He carved a niche for himself in Bollywood dominated in those days by the troika of Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor and the likes of Shammi Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar. Born as Jatin Khanna on December 29, 1942, he 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 when he decided to join films.
Across the border in Pakistan, fans also mourned the death of Khanna, with Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf describing him as a "great actor" and others taking to social networking websites to pay tribute to the romantic hero. In a special message, Prime Minister Ashraf conveyed his condolences at the death of Khanna. He said Khanna was "a great actor whose contribution to the field of films and arts would be long remembered."
Ashraf said Khanna had a "large fan following across the borders and captivated audiences with his excellent acting skills." He said he shared the grief of the bereaved family.
We leave you with one of Khanna' most memorable songs: