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Rajesh Khanna to be cremated today

entertainment Updated: Jul 19, 2012 10:35 IST

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Bollywood's first superstar Rajesh Khanna, who died of cancer in Mumbai on Wednesday, will be cremated on Thursday. His last rites will be performed at 11.30 am in Mumbai.

The funeral procession will begin from his residence - Aashirwad. The actor, lovingly called Kaka, who was hailed as India's original superstar, died following a prolonged illness on Wednesday.

He will be cremated at 1130 hrs, Khanna's son-in-law and actor Akshay Kumar said, while addressing the media on Wednesday.

The actor's condition had been deteriorating since April when he stopped eating and complained of weakness. He was admitted to the hospital for nearly two weeks after complaining of exhaustion and uneasiness. Last Saturday, he was re-admitted and discharged on Monday.

Bollywood's original superstar - simply the phenomenon to some - left behind memories cast in celluloid of that famous crooked smile and head tilt.

In an era long before this age of instant connect of mobile phones and internet, Rajesh Khanna was the man who sparked a frenzy never seen before and never since, not even by the likes of Amitabh Bachchan.

His very name spelt magic in the 1970s. He sparked hysteria, particularly amongst his legions of women fans, who would line the road for a glimpse, chant his name, cover his car with lipstick marks and even write him letters in blood. They got married to his photograph, cut their finger, let the blood flow and applied sindoor.

Kaka, as he was popularly known, was one of the highest paid actors of his time, his record of consecutive solo super hits still unbroken. Who can forget the years between 1970-1979 when he starred in mega hits like Safar, Kati Patang, Sachaa Jhutha, Aan Milo Sajna, Anand, Amar Prem and Mere Jeevan Saathi. Ever the urbane, suave romantic who wooed like few others.

In his four-decade career, he appeared in about 160 films, of which 106 had him as the solo lead hero and 22 were two hero projects.

Rajesh reappeared in an ad a few months before his death, and once again became the talk of town - he was clearly unwell but the zest in his voice was intact as he intoned Babumoshai from his much loved film Anand.

Like Anand from the film, the man is gone. But the memories will live on.