Super Star Rajesh Khanna

RAJESH KHANNA Bhawana Somaaya Posted online: Friday, November 29, 2002 at 0000 hours IST eing



Rajesh Khanna means two things: You’ve to be a natty dresser. And you’ve to be a real miser about your masala box. Rajesh is a fussy dresser. Wears only silk kurtas, and has suits in every imaginable colour. The masala box, is a large silver affair with half a dozen compartments, each containing a different type of masala and supari. There’s a small spoon for dipping into these compartments and an extra red-and-black potli — the fisherwoman type with strings, for holding elaichis. Well, he’s either sentimental about it all or just plain miserly, because in the nine days I followed him about, he didn’t offer me supari even once? Today, there are many visitors. The writer of Dushman Dost has come to fix shooting dates. Prem Chopra, Kaka’s good friend since Kati Patang, has come to say “hello”. Then there’s the writer of Aavishkar, whom Rajesh introduces as a man who’s matured from tender love stories to crime and violence. “What’s happened?” Rajesh demands plaintively, “Where has love and romance gone? Romance can be anything — an open window, flowers, poetry, rain, music. Today, there’s no romance. No one has time for anything but getting into bed and raping.” Rajesh Khanna He’s at an ebb. Probably his sinus is acting up. Probably something else. You can never say with Rajesh Khanna. Saturday July 22: Today is a good diary day. Rajesh Khanna’s on top of the world, ready to come out of his shell and talk. I’m flabbergasted that Khanna doesn’t drink his water from a gold or silver glass. “I don’t believe in silver or gold,” he smiles. “I believe in black and white. White is lovely but black is beautiful. I like dark women, they’re sexy. I’m not particular that a woman should be gori chitti or even curvaceous. Appeal comes from mental rapport. I have to click mentally first.” He adjusts a pillow behind his head, getting into the spirit of the conversation. “My first mate was a big tease. We’d meet behind hedges to discuss lessons. She was smarter and used to help me with my studies. Mind you, I never borrowed her notes. No copying for me. Not even in those days. When I went to meet her father to ask for her hand, he asked me if I’d be taking over my family business. When he found out that I wanted to be an actor, he showed me the door. My second relationship was in college. I never attended classes. The day I did, my professor applauded. I found the staircase and the canteen more worthwhile. Pretty girls in churidars sat with friends, on the steps. One of them was a battleaxe, and we would be at each other’s throats all the time. The whole college naturally assumed we were in love! One day, I found her sitting all alone in the canteen. I took a chair. Fifteen minutes passed, she didn’t talk. I asked her if she was well? “I’m getting engaged tomorrow,” she snapped. I asked her one question before she left. “Be honest. Were you ever in love with me?” ‘Yes’, she cried and fled. I never saw her again. He’s a closed book to most people. There are flashes of a warmer human being trapped in his star image “Everyone knows the next chapter (Anju Mahendru). But have I ever commented on it?” There were some beautiful moments in that relationship. Too bad it went sour. And then my wife, Dimpi. Dimpi and I fell in love after marriage. Nothing anyone says can break our ties. She’s matured with motherhood. She’s developed constructive habits like reading. She’s read all the best-sellers. There’s an interruption. Rajesh is summoned downstairs for the shot. It’s a scene for Dushman Dost and Rajesh and Shatru are in C.I.D. uniforms. Rajesh gets up to change. “With the young lady’s permission, of course,” he says. I excuse myself, marvelling at his sudden radiant charm. I told you, today he’s in a good mood. Monday July 24: He’s shooting at the airport for Prem Bandhan. The entire cast is present — Moushumi Chatterji, Vikram, Lalita Pawar, Rippy Singh and A.K. Hangal. It’s the usual homecoming scene. Tears, laughter, hugs and the inevitable garland! Everyone seems to be happy. Except me. It’s just not my day. I’ve had to fight my way through the massive crowd outside. When I finally land inside the building, the crowd is larger. Men, women and children are falling over themselves to get a close look at the stars. The light boys are going crazy trying to keep the mob under control and away from the lights. Suddenly the headlight boy yells at a little kid who’s standing on the wires. “Do you know you can die of an electric shock in two seconds?” Thankfully, Kaka’s man, Munna, spots me and manages to drag me out of the crowd. I’m on my way to Kaka when Moushumi shrieks, “Hiiiii!” She makes me sit beside her and asks, “How do you like my earrings?” After that, there’s no stoping her. She tells me about her husband, her house, her daughter, her trip abroad. From the corner of my eye, I notice that Kaka’s watching us coldly. Moushumi finally lets me go and I’m walking towards Kaka, when Vikram and Hangal stop me. ‘In South India,’ says Vikram, ‘we call our tea boys ‘Kaka’. But in Punjab, Kaka is used as a term of affection! “Ha, ha, ha!” I can’t get close to Rajesh now. There are some kids from Delhi who want his autograph; a middle-aged couple who request him to pose for a photograph and done and pack-up announced, the police have to be called in to clear the way for the stars. Tuesday July 25: Good things never last. Today, my last day for this diary is a real tough one, with silence, restraint and formalities. He’s switched off and is aloof again. At the photo sessions, he loosens up a bit and flashes a whole range of adorable expressions — a consummate actor. But what a strange man! After nine days, I feel as though I’ve been circling a closed shell with no doors or windows. Expecting to get a peek inside by some miracle. But that happened oh-so-few-times. He’s a closed book to most people. There are flashes of a warmer human being trapped in his star image. Today, he’s unapproachale, moody, aloof, a world unto himself. My last impression of him is the same as my first. He’s lonely. Damn, damn, damn, lonely. ************ “The best judge of an interview is always your most intimate ones. They know everything about you — your thoughts and feelings — and if what you say in print, can retain their interests, it means you have not stagnated. I remember the reactions I received for this diary. It had the ability to surprise me and those around me. Interviews are quite similar to screen performances. One identifies only with the recent ones.” (Rajesh Khanna)


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