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Happy Birthday Jeetendra: Bollywood's 'jumping jack' who survived the onslaught of Rajesh Khanna!!

April 7, 2016 11:18:18 AM IST
By Mansoor Khan, Glamsham Editorial
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Energetic, lively and full of energy that's how one can describe Bollywood's iconic star Jeetendra, who turns 74 today. Glamsham.Com wishes him many happy returns of the day and takes a look at the phenomenal rise of Jeetendra and how the dancing star survived the onslaught of superstar Rajesh Khanna during his prime.


Though film legend V.Shantaram introduced Jeetendra with his home production GEET GAYA PATHARON NE (1964) but it was the South film industry that played a pivotal role in making Jeetendra a ‘star' in Bollywood.

“If South Indian film industry had not shown faith in my talent then I don't think I would have been able to survive so long in Bollywood,” candidly confesses Jeetendra.

Recalling his early days Jeetendra reminisces, “After GEET GAYA PATHARON NE failed, I had no films till 1967. I kept hunting studios but I was shown the door by many Bollywood filmmakers. Finally it was South film director Ravikant Nagaich, who showed confidence in me and despite cautions form other filmmakers he did not budge. His confidence paid off as FARZ, which was rejected by many stars like Feroz Khan, Shashi Kapoor, Manoj Kumar etc. proved a smash hit at the box office.”
With FARZ Jeetendra displayed his proficiency in dancing. In the super hit song ‘Mast baharon ka main ashiq' … he left even his co-artist and the ace dancer Aruna Irani gasping!

After FARZ Jeetendra's tryst with dancing became his signature statement and with further movies like CARAVAN (1971) and HUMJOLI (1970) the media coined him with the tag line - Jumping Jack.

He continued the trend till the 90's with films like HIMMATWALA, JUSTICE CHAUDHRY, MAWAALI, TOHFA etc.

Though Jeetendra's dancing took his career to great heights but readers would be surprised to know that the one thing Jeetendra found to be most uncomfortable was ‘dancing'! He acknowledges, “Frankly speaking dancing was not my cup of tea. I had no formal training in dance. Whatever little Jumping or the so-called dancing I did on screen was thanks to my dancing stints at our chawl during Ganapati and Govinda festivals.”

The critics and the film awards may not have recognized Jeetendra's talent in the acting department but the fact remains Jeetendra was a lucky mascot not only for the South film industry but even down Bollywood. 

In the 70's when ‘Superstar Rajesh Khanna' gave a run for money to top Bollywood stars like Dilip Kumar, Rajendra Kumar and Dharmendra, the only actor who survived Khanna's onslaught was none other but Jeetendra. Unfazed by Khanna's rage, Jeetendra continued giving hits after hits like HUMJOLI (1970), CARAVAN (1971), PARICHAY (1972), JAISE KO TAISA (1973), BIDAAI (1974) etc.

During the 70's Jeetendra charisma was almost like ‘Midas Touch' i.e. whatever he touched turned into gold. Hence filmmaker's in lure of success pleaded him do ‘Special Appearances' in their films and miraculously the movie's turned out to be hits - remember KHILONA, NAGIN, JANI DUSHMAN etc.

Readers would be stunned to know that Jeetendra's magic at box office was such that even Rajesh Khanna had to take Jeendendra's obligation to secure a hit and that too when Khanna was at its peak as superstar. Sounds unbelievable?

Well it is true! After Rajesh Khanna's first home production MEHBOOB KI MEHNDI failed at the box-office in 1971, Khanna was shattered. After three years in 1974 he gathered strength to produce yet again but to be on a safer side he requested his old pal Jeteendra to grace the film with brief cameo. Jeetendra obliged and the film ROTI was a blockbuster!
For friends Jeetendra did everything. His famous friendship with Rishi Kapoor and Rakesh Roshan is well-known. For Rakesh Roshan first home production AAP KE DEEWANE (1979) Jeetenda, despite busy schedules down South, did a dance sequence featuring the trio in the title track thus adding novelty to the film.

Similarly when Rishi Kapoor's career was at its low ebb, it was Jeetendra, who came to his rescue and gave him the doctrine to sign multiple films so that, in case, few film flops, at least one hit could rescue him.

Today Jeetendra has taken retirement from Bollywood but his dance continues to inspire actors on present generation from Hrithik Roshan to Ranbir Kapoor to Varun Dhawan.

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