Tribute Remembering Rajesh Khanna Rajesh Khanna- the original superstar

The Indian film industry which is almost hundred years old had seen so many versatile actors in the past but the one who gave new shape and dimensions to Hindi cinema especially in romantic films was late Rajesh Khanna. Rajesh Khanna was a Bollywood actor, film producer and politician. Rajesh Khanna was born on 29 Dec. 1942, in Amritsar, Punjab as Jatin Khanna. Khanna was adopted and raised by foster parents – Chunni Lal Khanna and Leela Wati Khanna, who were relatives of his biological parents after his father had migrated from pre-partitioned Pakistan to Gali Tiwarian in the city of Amritsar. His biological parents were Lala Hiranand and Chandrani Khanna and Lala worked as headmaster of the MC High School in Burewala, Pakistan. After his adoption, he was known as “Jatin Khanna”. Khanna lived in Saraswati Niwas in Thakurdwar near Girgaon, Mumbai (then called Bombay) and attended St. Sebastian’s Goan High School there, along with his friend Ravi Kapoor, who later took the stage name Jeetendra, and whose mothers were friends. He completed his schooling from Hill Grange High School, on Pedder Road, Mumbai, in 1959. Khanna gradually started taking interest in theatre and did a lot of stage and theatre plays in his school and college days and won many prizes in the inter college drama competitions. Khanna became a rare newcomer who struggled in his own MG sports car to get work in theatre and films in the early sixties. Khanna did his first two years of Bachelor of Arts at Wadia College in Pune from 1959 to 1961. Both friends later studied in K. C. College, Mumbai. Khanna also tutored Jeetendra for his first film audition. Khanna’s uncle changed Khanna’s first name to Rajesh when Khanna decided to join films. His friends and his wife called him Kaka.
Rajesh Khanna was one of eight finalists in the 1965 All India Talent Contest organized by United Producers and Film-fare from more than ten thousand contestants. Subsequently Khanna won the contest. He made his film debut in the 1966 film Aakhri Khat directed by Chetan Anand, followed by Raaz directed by Ravindra Dave both of which were a part of his pre-determined prize for winning the All-India United Producers’ Talent Competition. G.P. Sippy and Nasir Hussain were the first to sign Rajesh Khanna after he won the contest. Aakhri Khat was India’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 40th Oscar Academy Awards in 1967. He started his carrer with Aakhri Khat and rose to prominence with his performances in films like Raaz, Baharon Ke Sapne, Ittefaq and Aradhana. Through Aradhana, he rose to “instant national fame” and film critics referred to him as the “First superstar” and the “Original superstar” of Indian cinema. He earned these titles following 15 consecutive solo hit films in the 1970s, a record that remains unbroken. In film Aradhana, Rajesh Khanna was cast in a double role (father and son) opposite Sharmila Tagore and Farida Jalal. The film also saw the resurgence of Kishore Kumar, who eventually became the official playback voice of Rajesh Khanna. The Kishore Kumar-Rajesh Khanna combination worked miracles and it was almost impossible to see them as separate identities. They became a singer-actor duo and together they gave many songs till 1991. Rajesh Khanna married Dimple Kapadia in March 1973, 8 months before Dimple’s debut film Bobby was released and has two daughters from the marriage. Rajesh acted alongside Mumtaz in eight successful films. They were neighbours and got along very well, and as a result they shared a great on-screen chemistry. After Khanna married, Mumtaz decided to marry millionaire Mayur Madhwani in 1974. At the time, she was doing three films Aap ki Kasam, Roti and Prem Kahani with Khanna. She decided to quit movies only after completing these films. When she left films Khanna felt very lost. In one of her interviews, Mumtaz was quoted saying “I would pull his leg and tease him about his fan following. Whenever Rajesh entered a hotel in Madras, there was a queue of 600 girls waiting to see him at midnight. As a result, even I would get some importance, as people would ask for my autograph as well. He was very generous with his associates, and would party a lot.” In the seventies, his chemistry with Sharmila Tagore, Asha Parekh, Zeenat Aman and Hema Malini were also popular with audiences.
Music remained one of the biggest attractions of all Rajesh Khanna films throughout his career. Many of the musical scores for Khanna’s films were composed by S.D.Burman, R.D.Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The trio of Rajesh Khanna, Kishore Kumar and R.D. Burman went on to make a number of popular films. He won three Filmfare Best Actor Awards and was nominated for the same fourteen times. He received the most BFJA Awards for Best Actor (Hindi) – four times and nominated 25 times. In 1991, he was awarded the Filmfare Special Award for completing 25 years in the industry, appearing in a record 101 films as the single lead hero in a span of 25 years. In 2005, he was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. The BBC made a film on him, titled Bombay Superstar, in 1974. Rajesh Khanna considered Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari and Geeta Bali as his idols. The dialogue from film Amar Prem ,” Ye Ansoo ponch dho pushpa, I hate tears,” was one of his best among so many dialogue. Khanna dislosed in an interview,” My inspirations include, Dilip Kumar’s dedication and intensity, Raj Kapoor’s spontaneity, Dev Anand’s style and Shammi Kapoor’s rhythm.” Rajesh Khanna was a MP (Member of Parliament) for the Indian National Congress, from the New Delhi constituency, where he won the 1992 by-election, retaining his seat until the 1996 election. He died on 18 July 2012, at his bungalow, Aashirwad, in Mumbai at the age of 69 years.
(The author is Senior Faculty- Govt. Engg. College (GCET) – Jammu)


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