Rajesh Khanna – Badshah Of Bollywood Down The Ages

Super Star Rajesh Khanna

Super Star Rajesh Khanna


Badshahs Of Bollywood Down The Ages!
Vimla Patil
Vimla Patil was associated with Femina, India’s number one women’s magazine, published by the Times of India Group for 29 years. Femina is Vimla Patil’s personal success story. Today, FEMINA is one of the strongest international brands with a vast readership in India and abroad. She initiated the Miss India contest in the mid-sixties for the journal and brought it to its present international stature. Vimla Patil promoted Indian textiles and fashion garments – especially handlooms – for decades by presenting over 4000 fashion shows in India and most countries of the world.
After finishing her long stint with Femina, she built a brand new career for herself as a freelance multi-mediaperson with writing, events, public relations, shows and many more activities in her portfolio!

Vimla Patil will be delighted to answer readers’ questions. Please click on the comments page link at the bottom of the article to post your questions for her or to comment on her article.

Like any royal family, the Indian film industry passes on the crown for the title of Badshah of Bollywood in each generation. Each Badshah gives Bollywood a new status and rings in changes, which become an integral part of the lore of India’s multi-billion-rupee film industry!


Then came Rajesh Khanna, the eternal romantic lover who charmed India and became the first superstar of the country.

One turn of Rajesh Khanna’s sexy shoulders, and millions of women in India would swoon with joy when he ruled the Bollywood horizon. He was the archetypal lover, gentle, soft spoken and caring. He was the Bengali babu who spouted poetry, cried tears of sorrow and happiness when finally united with his heroine and immortalized films like Amar Prem. Rajesh Khanna was such an incredible success that he is called the first official superstar of Bollywood. It is said that thousands waited for a ‘darshan’ of his handsome face when he was shooting in locations in and around Mumbai. He made romantic duos with Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz, both of whom were considered the top heroines of their times. Rajesh Khanna retired as soon as Amitabh Bachchan began the series of ‘violence and crime’ films which became the trend of the 70s which led to Bachchan being labeled ‘the angry young man’. Rajesh Khanna in “Amar Prem” (1971) Amitabh Bachchan has ruled as the Badshah of Bollywood for the longest period. Amitabh Bachchan in Virudhdh with another reigning star of the past – Sharmila Tagore, who made a wonderful romantic pair with Rajesh Khanna. The Big B is going great guns and is called the star of the millennium. His success is legendary. He is definitely the longest ruling Badshah of Bollywood. When Amitabh Bachchan came to the film industry, many producers took one look at him and turned their noses up to dismiss him as a ‘lambu’ who could make no impact in Bollywood. Amitabh has shown over the years how wrong they all were. In the seventies, he was nearly monopolized by three producer-directors. Manmohan Desai, Yash Chopra and Prakash – the triumvirate of directors cast him in every film they made during the high ‘socialist’ inspired years of Indira Gandhi’s rule. The downtrodden hero who fought for the slum people became the icon of this period and no one could portray the agony of this class except Amitabh who played umpteen roles of the good hearted goonda who wreaked revenge and havoc to put rich people in their places on behalf of the labourers, slum dwellers and other deprived classes. His films ran on the strength of the one character he played in most films where he was shown as using wile and violence to punish the rich and indulgent, so as to give their legitimate rights to the poor. Amitabh’s position as the Badshah of Bollywood was confirmed once Sholay became the superhit of the century. But as his fortunes declined, his position too became shaky. However, one series of the television game show called Kaun Banega Crorepati and AB was again at the top of the popularity chart. Today, at 63, he continues to rule Bollywood with his towering personality. He is in innumerable ads and commercials, television game show, films and events. He is all pervasive in Bollywood. Shah Rukh Khan is the youngest and current Badshah of Bollywood. Shah Rukh Khan became the Badshah of Bollywood by the sheer risks he took in accepting roles. To begin with, as is now well known, he became the negative hero in Darr, Bazigaar and Anjam to give three back-to-back hits. Then he switched over to the persona of a passionate lover and became the quintessential romantic hero of Bollywood. So vast was his appeal, that people began to say that only two things sell in Bollywood: Sex and Shah Rukh Khan! But on his own, Shah Rukh has done two kinds of films. Shah Rukh Khan achieved extra popularity after an actress said, “Only Shah Rukh Khan and sex sell in Bollywood.” He reportedly charges the highest fee for a film and his name on the marquee is sure guarantee that the film will gross good money at the box office. He is publicly referred to as the Badshah of Bollywood. The collegy, campus romances like the all time hit Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Kal Ho Na Ho and the ultimate Main Hoon Na. On the other hand, he has done a Devdas, a Swades and an Asoka or a Paheli too. Shah Rukh Khan endorses many products and is a specialist at live shows in foreign countries. SRK has an added feather in his cap that during his reign, Bollywood truly has gone international. He definitely takes some of the credit for taking Indian cinema to shores faraway and making Indian films popular in remote places like the countries of Africa, Russia, Egypt, Iran and others. Among women, Aishwarya Rai rules unopposed as the Maharani of Bollywood! Normally, female stars are not called Badshahs of Bollywood. But Aishwarya Rai has changed this male-dominated notion by notching up a hugely successful career in the past one decade after she won the Miss World crown in 1994. Currently, with 17 films in her kitty in India and Gurinder Chadha’s Mistress of Spice ready for release internationally as well as other Hollywood films in the offing, she is the undisputed Badshah or Maharani of Bollywood among all female actors. Just as there are seasonal flavours and permanent flavours, actors like Rani Mukherjee, Kareena Kapoor and Preity Zinta continue to attract fans depending upon the success of their releases every year. But over and above all of them, is Aishwarya Rai, who is on a different career graph altogether. Aishwarya is the female Badshah of Bollywood not only because she is definitely the international face of Indian cinema, but also because she inspires wonderful films in which she plays a wonderful variety of roles. In the coming year, she will be seen in a number of period films which give her opportunities to look dazzling in costumes and jewellery of various periods of Indian history and literary movement. She is enacting the late megastar Nutan’s role in the new version of Bandini – to be made by Anil Sharma, who made the superhit Gadar, Ek Prem Kahani earlier. She is Umrao Jaan and Maharani Gayatri Devi in J P Dutta’s new films. For Ketan Mehta, she is Jhansi Ki Rani. Most important, for Ashutosh Gowarikar, she is Jodha, the Rajput Hindu queen of Emperor Akbar in his film Akbar-Jodha. She is Rajkumar Santoshi’s Samyukta in the film Prithviraj-Samyukta. She has the lead roles in the forthcoming as yet unnamed films of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Dharmesh Darshan. She is the boss of 17 films, which will start shooting schedules this year. Most of these films are period flicks or based on literary classics – and almost all have a budget of over Rs.20 crores. She has the maximum films among all actresses in the coming years, and thus takes the crown of the Badshah of Bollywood among women stars. 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