Lifestyle Awards 2013
Wellness & Relationship
To Rajesh Khanna, Superstar
Posted By: Annu C M
‘Who is this dishy man?’ the question was from a firang friend recently, and we were watching a very good looking actor singing to Sharmila Tagore in the film
. Dishy indeed. Looks that make you forget the ill-fitting wig and gaunt cheeks of the recent past. And take us right back to the heydays of Bollywood’s first real super star - Rajesh Khanna.
In a span of over 25 active years in the industry, Rajesh Khanna or Kaka as he is known to family and friends, worked in over 180 films and more than a 100 of these were as solo hero - a commendable feat in an industry where fortunes changed with the weather. He was nominated 14 times for the Filmfare Awards and 25 times for the Bengal Film Journalist Association Awards. In fact, he holds the record for most number of nominations for BFAA. But the biggest commendation above all that of course, is the fact that he was indeed the first superstar of Indian Cinema, even before the age and times of Amitabh, the angry young man or even Rajni, the Boss.
Born Jatin Khanna in Amritsar, and fostered by rich relatives, legend has it that Rajesh Khanna won a Talent Contest in the 60s organized by the United Producers and Filmfare. And yes, there were such contests even as far back as that, without which Bollywood would not have found this star! He went on to win the Talent Hunt beating over 10 thousand candidates and in the process debuted in Chetan Anand’s
in 1966, which incidentally was India’s entry to the Oscars in 1967. That was the beginning of an illustrious career.
Blessed with suave good looks(though an ungainly derriere, some would say), Rajesh Khanna was the consummate romantic hero through his career. It is said that everywhere he went women mobbed him with marriage requests. Letters were written in blood and his cars were kissed red with lipstick. All his roles, even the offbeat, critically acclaimed ones, made use of this celebrated heartthrob status. He was such a phenomenon by the 70s that the BBC even made a documentary on him titled, the
. However, the superstar was unlucky in love off screen. His early years of success saw the breakup of a seven year relationship with designer-actor Anju Mahendroo. This was immediately followed by a hasty marriage to a 16 year old Dimple Kapadia which unraveled through the next decade ending in estrangement. In the wake of his separation from Dimple, Kaka was romantically linked to a young Tina Munim, his heroine in several films in the 80s. That too fizzled out soon enough. After that Rajesh Khanna’s only other dalliance was his stint in politics. He worked with the Congress party and was elected member of Parliament from the New Delhi constituency in the early 90s.
The later years saw some attempt at returning to the arc lights with television serials and films, but his failing health soon began getting in the way. And by the late 2000, he had more or less reduced his appearances to the rare public function.
Today marks the end of an innings well played. One, that saw super stardom, fan frenzy, celluloid milestones, political ventures and even some very lasting and poignant relationships. Kakaji passed on, the afternoon of 18th July surrounded by wife Dimple Kapadia(they separated, but never divorced), daughters Twinkle and Rinke Khanna, son-in-law and film star Akhshay Kumar, grandchildren, and the film fraternity. A life thoroughly lived.
(Annu CM works in the Wellness and Entertainment division of NDTV Good Times. An alumnus of MCRC, New Delhi, Annu as been with NDTV for more than a decade. Her understanding and affection for Bollywood comes from an enduring love for old Hindi film songs.)
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