Had he been alive today Rajesh Khanna would have celebrated his seventieth birthday today, but destiny had willed it otherwise so in his absence his birthday celebrations were muted. The low key is also owing to the outrage that nation has been caught in on account of the death of the girl who fought against all odds to survive. It needs to be underlined that Rajesh Khanna was amongst the first of stars in the world of Hindi cinema who enacted such roles in scores of films where women were given a sense of dignity, respect and equal status.
The famous dialogues from AMAR PREM- ”Pushpa I hate tears”, could on the eve of his birthday be the source of inspiration for scores of women out there on the streets protesting all across the country against the atrocities of the state and ill-treatments meted out to them by the families and the society. Here was an actor who made a woman proud about her femininity and sort of celebrated the femininity and the charm with her female compatriots through scores of his films and this is what had endeared him among the women and created a humongous fan following. So even in a film like ROTI where he serenaded a village belle in the form of Mumtaz, he may have teased her but respected her for her furious independence, which other male actor could have done those kind of roles?
He was among the first lead actors who acted in films and fell in love with widowed woman and strongly came out in support of widow remarriage as he did in KATI PATANG. Which actor could have had the confidence to do it, but a Rajesh Khanna from his generation! A Yash Chopra when he wished to branch out on his own and decided to launch his own banner fell on the charm of Rajesh Khanna to dabble with a complex subject like DAAG and he came winner. Were it not for a Rajesh Khanna, who had created a fan following among women through the female characters that he serenaded on the screen, one wonders whether Yash Chopra could have had such a dream launch of his banner?
May be in the time of strife that the nation is falling through, and at a time when the role of film industry is also being questioned in the way the females have been projected on the silver screen, one needs to go back to films of Rajesh Khanna to tell the world that this is what cinema has contributed to the cause of woman as well. It would be the best tribute to his memory.