It may not have been until 3pm that a superstar son-in-law broke the news of the death of his superstar father-in-law — the first to earn that superlative in Bollywood — but unconfirmed reports of Rajesh Khanna’s death were doing the rounds ever since Wednesday morning.
Now, after a flood of RIP messages, fans and contemporaries are recalling the best of the Anand (1971) actor who passed away at 69 after prolonged illness. He was discharged on Tuesday after doctors had reportedly told family that not much could be done about his condition.
“I knew him closely as he was good friends with Pancham and Kishore da. I have seen ladies no matter married or not, keeping his photo in their purses.
Maine logon ko unki puja karte hue dekha hai
(I have seen people worshipping him). We have lost a huge superstar,” said his contemporary, veteran singer Asha Bhonsle.
Bollywood’s younger lot also showered their tweet tributes while the experts went on to say what a tragic end it has been. “Rajesh Khanna was one star who didn’t quite get what was due to him. He was a bigger star than Amitabh Bachchan or Dharmendra, but his fall was very tragic and sad,” said adman Prahlad Kakkar of the first actor to deliver 15 hits at the box office in a row, starting with Aakhri Khat in 1966. His most famous films include Aradhna (1968), Amar Prem (1972), Bawarchi (1972), Kati Patang (1971) and Safar (1970).
Khanna, who last acted in the film Wafaa with actor Laila Khan who has allegedly been murdered, is best known as a style icon for pioneering the ‘
and belt-on-shirt fashion of the 70s and 80s. His reason behind the style was however, his weight. He thought he could hide his flab behind it. Other inimitable statements he made were the Gorkha
-clad Bengali look, the side nod and wrist-twist. Even the bandhgala jackets sported by Khanna remained an evergreen ever since.
While his famous son-in-law Akshay Kumar says the family is happy as “he has gone to a heavenly place,” his fans and friends, in full tribute mood, seem to echo what he had proudly proclaimed in the electric fan commercial he last featured in. “
Mere fans mujhse koi nahi chheen sakta
.” (No one can take away my fans from me)
RIP 29 Dec, 1942- 18 July, 2012
His last words
My inspiration was late Geeta Bali. Guru Dutt, my idol as a director inspired me to take part in the United Artists contest in 1966 where I was lucky enough to be the first among the 50 contestants, and Chetan Anand gave me my coveted break in Aakhri Khat.
Uttam Kumar’s personality, Dilip Kumar’s intensity and dedication, Raj Kapoor’s spontaniety and Dev Anand’s style along with Shammi Kapoor’s rhythm were my inspiration.
Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz, Asha Parekh and Hema Malini are my most successful heroines commercially. I respected Meena Kumari the maximum and worked with her in Dushman. I respected Nanda a lot for her dignity.
My most memorable scene is the death scene in Anand, and it took me two hours to bring perfection. Hrishikesh Mukherjee rebuked me for not being able to give the right expression and said, ‘I’d have to pay from my own pocket the price if I failed in my fourth take’. That was my inspiration.
(As told to Ranjan Das Gupta)
Things you didn’t know about him
Female fans wrote letters to him in blood; girls married his picture and threw dupattas so his feet wouldn’t touch the ground
Kishore Kumar and RD Burman were his closest friends in the film industry. He always insisted on Anand Bakshi as the lyricist of the songs in his films.
He was the highest paid Indian actor during 1970-1979.
Aakhri Khat, Rajesh Khanna’s first film, was selected for the Oscars as the best foreign language entry in 1967.
He was adopted by his rich parents who were relatives of his biological parents.
Rajesh Khanna had 15 consecutive solo superhits between 1969 to 1971, an unbroken record so far.
Rajesh Khanna’s home Aashirwad was earlier called ‘Dimple’ after wife Dimple Kapadia. He bought it from yesteryear actor Rajendra Kumar.
He reportedly had affairs with actors Anju Mahendru and Tina Munim (now Ambani).
His colleagues remember him fondly
I wanted to see him in hospital but Dimple told me not to come. She said he is not in a state to talk
Manoj Kumar, 74
Ye bade afsos ki baat hai
(This is very sad)... I have done 3-4 films with him. he was a super class actor
Asha Parekh, 69
I met him last at an award show ... he sounded full of life. May God give his strength to his family
Hema Malini, 63
Wo ek behtar insaan the... apne naam aur kaam ki izzat kaise ki jaati hain, unse seekhna chahiye
(He was a remarkable person. One should learn how to respect your work and name from him)
Raj Babbar, 60
I expected to meet a superstar on the first day of my shoot with him, but he was very down to earth. I will miss him
Saira Bano, 67