Whenever actor Rajesh Khanna, who gave haunting performances that propelled him to his legendary superstardom, died on screen, his mother used to curse the directors for the scenes that she could not bear to watch.
"What is it they are showing in these movies? I cannot watch it", she used to say to her close friends, baring a mother's soul that bled even knowing the "make believe" dimension of the celluloid world.
Reminiscing his family's close association with the Khannas, Ramesh Bhatlekar at whose residence here, Rajesh had spent a few months during his two-year-long stint as a college student in the city, said, "His mother Leelavati used to give vent to her feelings while talking to my mother, after he rose to become a star. His screen deaths annoyed her".
The Bollywood icon had become a heart-throb of millions with his uncanny ability to portray a romantic hero and also a tragic one with his roles in Anand, Safar and Baharon Ke Sapne that moved the audience to tears with the poignancy it conveyed.
The Khannas and the Bhatlekar family stayed in the same building 'Sarsaswati Nivas' at Thakurdwar in Girgaum in Mumbai.
"My father was a family doctor of Chunnilal Khanna, (Rajesh's father) and we grew together. Later, after passing the matriculation board exam, I moved to Pune, where my father had built a house on Apte Road in Deccan Gymkhana area," the 70-year-old Bhatlekar recalled talking to PTI.
"I took admission in Fergusson college for what was called 'pre-degree' (first year) in science stream. Rajesh's family also decided to send him to Pune, (traditionally considered a seat of education) for the Arts course. He however, landed late and could not get admission to the same college. Finally, he enrolled in the Wadia College in the city's camp area," he continued.