During the early 60’s, a student of Mumbai’s K.C. College by the name Jatin Khanna used to roam around the happening Gaylord restaurant, hoping to get noticed by a movie producer. He got discovered by the United Film Producers-Filmfare talent contest and after a stint of failures, was considered as a failure. He even boldly introduced himself as a ‘flop’ actor to a senior award winning journalist, later in 1969 with Shakti Samantha’s ARADHANA, Jatin got a reincarnation and Rajesh Khanna – the synonym for ‘superstar’ or say mass hysteria or call it madness was born.
Rajesh Khanna was the ultimate superstar; the phenomenon succumbed to cancer at the age of 69 in 2012. Today on his sixth death anniversary we recollect the aura, the magic and the nostalgia and are stunned by the fact that ‘Kaka’ is a part of our everyday life, it’s impossible to imagine our world without Rajesh Khanna – India’s original superstar.
Yes, the evergreen Dev Anand made women jump from their balcony for a glimpse, Bollywood’s romance was not ‘kora kagaz’ (empty paper) in that matter but Rajesh Khanna’s magical charm wrote his name as the emperor of romance on screen. ARADHANA, AMAR PREM etc.. it was sublime, infectious and so endearing. Personally, I still wonder why Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz were not in the minds of the superstar’s favorite directors - Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shakti Samanta, Yash Chopra for a remake of DEVDAS during those era.. anyway, Rajesh Khanna hold his crown as the emperor of romance and occasionally would defy his image by playing a fugitive in ITTEFAQ, a serial killer in RED ROSE, the aged father of grown up adult kids in AVATAR, the ultimate icon of care free life in ANAND, the acute mania patient in KHAMOSHI, a man torn between murder and bigamy in DAAG (Yash Chopra’s debut as independent producer with his banner Yash Raj Films) and more..
Rajesh Khanna spelt stardom, magic, charisma during that era. The dream man of women from all ages, Rajesh Khanna was also a style icon – the ‘guru kurta’ is still a hit ( it was actually designed to cover his extra hip).
Kaka inspired many, an outsider who ruled the nation with his trademark nod of head, the dialogue delivery, the dance, the shake of hands, the move, it was all there. Rajesh Khanna is one of those prime reasons people from small towns and districts flocked to this city of dreams.
The icon for the icons – Amitabh Bachchan desired to be a ‘star’ like Rajesh Khanna.. sometimes it wonders- what if Mr. Bachchan was not a not a part of ANAND and NAMAK HARAM?...
What would have been Bollywood romance without Rajesh Khanna.. just hum the opening note of Kishore Kumar’s ‘Kora Kagaz tha yeh man mera’, oh mere dil ke chain, yeh sham mastani, yeh jo mohabbat hai’ etc etc, the image of Kaka – Rajesh Khanna in his impeccable style and trademark moves clad in that ‘guru kurta’ haunts us.
How many times we say to our friends and associates, ‘ I hate tears’, how many times have we said to our self’s ‘babu moshai, zindagi lambi nahi, badi honi chahiye’
And interestingly, how many times King Khan Shah Rukh Khan – the king of romance has given that nod/ to his head sideways like ‘Kaka’ ( watch any of Shah Rukh Khan’s top numbers, you will find that ode to Rajesh Khanna by SRK, even after dialogue deliveries at some times).
Rajesh Khanna – was a true superstar, he mastered the art of romance, way of living and even excelled in the art of dying on screen, he invented a new idiom of stardom, Kaka was the most rare combo of super stardom matched by superlative acting talents – he remained the sublime ANAND on screen in his SAFAR..
Its impossible to imagine our world without Rajesh Khanna, he is with us somewhere as Mr. Bachchan has rightly said in the eternal classical ANAND – ANAND marta nahi, ANAND marte nahi...
(Please note : The journalist to whom Rajesh Khanna boldly introduced himself as a ‘flop’ actor was Virendra Verma – the father of this author. Today after 50 years, his son is writing a piece on that self proclaimed ‘flop’ actor of that day who is now immortal).
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