Archive for August, 2012

Rajesh Khanna

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9, 2012 by manoharv2009

Rajesh Khanna

Showbiz Legends

Rajesh Khanna

In the 60s there came an euphoria, a craze, a tidal wave which swept the entire genre of womankind with those naughty crinkling eyes, the stylish shake of the head and the enigmatic smile. It belonged to none other than superstar Rajesh Khanna, who later, with an amazing fan following, went on to create history of sorts in the Indian film industry.

Born in Amritsar, on 29th December 1942, Jatin Khanna (now Rajesh Khanna or `kaka` as he is affectionately called) was the adopted child of his parents and hence pampered right from the start. When the young Jatin expressed the desire to act, he became that rare newcomer who struggled in his own MG sports car! After doing theater, he was selected by the United Producers` Talent Contest.

Though Rajesh Khanna began his film career with inconsequential movies like Akhri Khat (1966) and Raaz (1967), but once Aradhna (1969) was released, he spread a frenzy in the masses that remained unfazed long after.

There was no obvious rationale for the Rajesh Khanna miracle. He didn`t really have the conventional good looks, yet the boy-next-door appeal and the charisma generated through his twinkling eyes and heady smile were enough to ensure the birth of a super-duper star.

He began his rule over the tinsel town when both his films Aradhana and Do Raaste ran simultaneously in the same year (1969), to become golden jubilee hits. A spate of stupendous hits like Safar, Sachcha Jhutha and Kati Patang followed within 1970. He could play the playful or the tragic romantic effortlessly with equal grace.

Khanna put an end to the Shammi Kapoor era, when he consolidated his position as the king of the box office by delivering a hat-trick of hits in 1971, in the form of Andaz, Anand and Amar Prem. Khanna immortalized himself through Anand when he played the poignant role of a determinedly cheerful chatterbox, living under the shadow of a fatal disease.

He was brilliant in Bawarchi (1972), Namak Haram (1973) Daag and Aan Milo Sajna (1973). Prem Nagar (1974) Aap Ki Kasam (1974) and Mehbooba (1976) also won him accolades.

With an appetite for creating headlines, he created a furore in the media by marrying the nubile Bobby girl Dimple Kapadia, overnight by separating from his longtime girlfriend Anju Mahendru. All the media focus was on him and anything that he did made hot news.

But then “Change happeneth to them all”. The success by now had seemingly gone to his head, and thereafter, he was on the decline – both professionally and personally. Post-1974, though he starred in many movies, his era started to end with the onslaught of the new angry young man Amitabh Bachchan, who brought aggression and fire to the screen as against the romantic Rajesh with mannerisms that now looked jaded and repetitive. This was also followed by the split in his marriage with Dimple.

In a desperate attempt to regain his past glory he even tried pairing up with younger heroines like Sridevi, Padmini Kolhapure, Tina Munim who even happened to be his love interest for a long time, but all in vain. With a mix of flops and occasional hits like Thodi si Bewafai (1980), Agar Tum Na Hote (1983) Avtaar (1983), Souten (1983), he managed to survive.

But after that, he was seen less and less. He was appreciated in his final comeback vehicle Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999) due to his subtle and polished performance. Meanwhile, both his daughters Twinkle and Rinkie Khanna too joined Bollywood.

He recast his career as a politician and won an election from a Delhi constituency to become an Member of Parliament. But later, his defeat in the next election disillusioned him further and recently he made a comeback in one of the serials on television, to reach a wider audience. Years may have passed, blockbusters may have happened, the film galaxy may have produced several other stars, but those who have seen him in his heydays still believe that there was or there still is no one like him.!!



The original superstar – Rajesh Khanna

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9, 2012 by manoharv2009

The original superstar – Rajesh Khanna

Rajiv Vijayakar Posted: Jun 27, 2008 at 1647 hrs ISTImage
There were so many words that were spelt as “Rajesh Khanna”then: “Magic” for one. “Charisma” for another. Here’s a look at Hindi cinema’s first Superstar, a man for the term “Phenomenon” was coined

It was somewhere in early 1967 that two films called Raaz and Aakhri Khat were released. They were made by top filmmakers of the time – G.P.Sippy and Chetan Anand respectively – but nosedived at the b-o. Their heroines Babita and Indrani Mukherjee were unknown and only the haunting solos Akele hain chale aao and Baharon mera jeevan bhi sanwaaro, respectively, made a mark.

Someone said that the common-to-both hero was a man called Rajesh Khanna, and that the films were a part of his predetermined prize for winning the All-India United Producers’ Talent Competition. Write-ups spoke of an actor who was confidence personified. Born Jatin on December 29, 1942 in Amritsar, he was an orphan adopted by a wealthy and indulgent couple, Mr and Mrs Khanna. Destiny had already made special the man who was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth but had acquired a golden one after birth instead.

Time passed. The big name heroes ruled, and two more big names, S.S.Vasan of Gemini (Aurat) and Nasir Husain (Baharon Ke Sapne) made also-ran films with him. With the latter, the actor struck up an enduring friendship with Nasir’s composer, R.D.Burman.

The actor, who had come to Mumbai with the backing of rather apprehensive parents and rudimentary theatrical experience, struggled in his own car – a first again. And wonder of wonders, despite flops, he had been signed by biggies Shakti Samanta, Raj Khosla, Asit Sen and a Milan-fresh A.Subba Rao. In between making two big films, B.R.Chopra had also launched a song-less suspense quickie – Ittefaq directed by Yash Chopra – with him too.

And that Khanna was special was borne out when destiny engineered the back-to-back releases of Shakti’s Aradhana and Khosla’s Do Raaste in late 1969. The euphoria began with the endemic popularity of the S.D.Burman chartbusters from the first film and when Rajesh Khanna made his entry singing Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu, it was an irresistible invitation to his dreams rather than to a dream girl. And Khanna became the new icon of romance as well as passion (Roop tera mastana) and mischief (Baagon mein bahaar hai) in an unforgettable father-and-son double dose.

It never rains, it pours. Perhaps this truism was created for the struggler that was Khanna, or Kaka, as he was later affectionately named. “Stardom” was but a tepid term for the hysteria he generated, and though the successive hits that followed for almost two years (or five, if you sidelined the exceptions) had instrinsic merits, we have to grant it to Khanna that in that blessed phase he could do no wrong.

Do Raaste, Ittefaq, Doli, Bandhan, Saccha Jhutha (one of his most understated and underrated performances), Safar, Aan Milo Sajana, the cult Haathi Mere Saathi and Andaz, the once-in-a-lifetime Anand, Kati Patang, Maryada, Dushmun, Amar Prem, Daag, Anuraag, Namak Haram (despite the subtle post-Zanjeer change in the Rajesh Khanna-Amitabh Bachchan equation), Roti (a home production), Premnagar, Aap Ki Kasam, Ajnabee and Prem Kahani – Khanna packed a stunning box-office punch of 22 more jubilee hits!

You had to ‘record’ that era ‘live’ to know the demi-god Khanna was. The media has written about girls swooning at his sight, writing him letters in blood and slashing wrists when he dumped girlfriend and early support system Anju Mahendroo and married Dimple Bobby Kapadia; of men dressing like him – the guru kurta became a fashion statement for years – and imitating his hairstyle; about his almost-daily parties with friends true and opportunistic and his “loyal” producers. But the reports are nothing but bland statements of a time when Khanna’s nod of the head, his crinkle-eyed smile and all his stock mannerisms had acquired a near-divine status.

In those days, Mumbai’s 2-kilometre Opera House to Grant Road stretch was crammed with a dozen movie-halls, and it was not unusual to find the best of them concurrently running Khanna’s movies to crammed houses for 25 or more weeks. Come out of the theatres and enter a café or switch on the radio at home and both would be full of the timeless and boundless array of chartbusters the man inspired music directors to create. It is a moot point whether Khanna catapulted Kishore Kumar to the top as a singer or the other way round, but Khanna, undoubtedly, was one of the focal points of the healthy but royal battle that raged between composers each vying to give him the best, and clearly the four composers who worked with him the most – S.D.Burman, Kalyanji-Anandji, R.D.Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal – had the edge over their competitors.

Khanna’s commercial downfall came as swiftly as a thunderbolt. Trends changed, Rishi Kapoor became the new romantic heartthrob, action took centerstage and the superstar’s mannerisms lost their fresh magic. But even more than that was Rajesh Khanna’s own contribution: his increasing lack of professionalism, his manipulation with scripts that had male co-stars fuming and ganging up in the fast-emerging multi-star film trend, his hangers-on that put off self-respecting associates and his alleged starry tantrums. Last but but not the least, his traumatic relationship and final split with wife Dimple even after the birth of his two daughters Twinkle and Rinke was not exactly the stuff past icons of love should be about.

Much water has flown since under the Khanna bridge. As a star he continued doling out the occasional hit (Chhaila Babu, Amar Deep, Thodi Si Bewafaii, Dhanwan, Avtaar, Souten, Maqsad, Amrit) all the way to the ‘80s, and as always never shirked from experiment. If his peak saw him take up Khamoshi, Anand, Amar Prem, Aap Ki Kasam and Aakraman in offbeat or gray roles, he daringly played a psychopath in Red Rose, a philanderer in Dhanwan and a politician in Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar even later.

But the magic had waned even if the larger-than-life charisma had not. A political career took off uneventfully and he turned producer officially with two films that went nowhere. Khanna tried his hands playing screen father to Akshaye Khanna (Aa Ab Laut Chalen) and Tusshar Kapoor (Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai), made friends with his wife and others he had antagonised, and even tried acting in a tele-film and in a soap or two. When he received the Golden Actor recognition from the Phalke Academy some weeks ago, with rare candour, he admitted to the mistakes he had made in the first heady flush of stardom.

But perhaps like his unprecedented innings, that too was all pre-ordained. And Rajesh Khanna is not so much about the wrongs he did but about his awesome achievements that form a historic chapter in Indian cinema.

Kings decide history, Gods write it. And Khanna wrote the last chapter of the era of innocence in Hindi films.

‘We were a lucky pair!’
“Rajesh Khanna was a star who made a lot of difference to my career. In seven years from Do Raaste to Prem Kahani we starred in eight major hits but no flops! Show me a single lead pair with this record – even Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol have done only five hits. Interestingly, the two films in which we did only cameos – my Raja Rani and his Aaina – were the only ones that flopped!
“Yes, we were considered a very lucky pair. Rajesh Khanna was a good and very professional co-star but not very outgoing. He was always very reserved and had few friends. He would usually report late on the sets, but he would never leave without completing his work.
“We were neighbours too, so we would often meet, but he would still be introverted, unlike me. Today, he has changed completely. I have quit films and we are two people happy in our own worlds. We last met more than two years ago, when my daughter Natasha got married to Zayed Khan. He came for some of the wedding functions and I think that it was very nice of him to do so.
“We first shot for Do Raaste and Bandhan. Both films were being made simultaneously, and he was a struggling hero. But after they were released he became a superstar, a Phenomenon as he was known. I think no one has seen the success the guy has seen, with a line of cars of his producers and hysterical fans outside his bungalow every day. He would be very generous with his associates, and would party a lot. As an actor, he was very good, and I particularly want to mention his performances in Aradhana, Anand, Dushmun and Roti. His mannerisms were a rage. Of course they would look funny today, but such things are always related to the timeframe. Among our films, all were focussed on him except for Aap Ki Kasam, but I had varied roles in them all.
“I recall shooting for his home production Roti in Kashmir – we were filming the climax and he had to carry me up a slope, The shooting went on for 3 days and I was always on the plump side, and the poor man’s shoulder was red because of my weight! But he brushed off my apologies!”

Shakti Samanta
‘He should come back to films!’
“He was a good actor and a good-hearted man. But after he made a name for himself, he shifted a bit from his goodness! He joined politics and left movies. I wish he would come back and concentrate on films.”
“Rajesh Khanna won our United Producers’ acting competition. I was making another film at the time and my friend G.P.Sippy gave him a break with Raaz. But it was only after Aradhana that he became a superstar. He was a naturally good actor. Even during the competition, he had spoken his lines so well. His strength was how he understood a character in a script.
“Aradhana had a double role for him. The story was lying with me for a while so the writer sold it to someone else, and because of that I had to change the climax of the film. But I had confidence – in Rajesh and in myself – that I could deliver, and the experiment was successful!
“Rajesh Khanna’s weakness was that he could not do action, and that his quick success made him too overjoyed! After many films together, I made films with some other actors because the roles did not suit him, but we joined hands again in the ‘80s for Awaaz, my own film, and his first production Alag Alag, but neither did well. The latter was based on a Pakistani story that had flopped even there. I had warned him that it would not work, but he insisted on making it!”

‘We had an unspoken bond that continues even today’
“Rajesh Khanna was lucky for us and we were lucky for him too. From the 1969 Do Raaste to the 1986 Amrit, we gave hits together both as films and as music scores. We used so many singers for him – Rafisaab, Mukeshji, Mahendra Kapoor, Amit Kumar and Mohammed Aziz among them – but he would always request us to fit in Kishore Kumar wherever possible. I recall how Kishoreda was very reluctant to sing Waada tera waada in Dushmun and was insisting we get Rafi for it. We surrounded Kishoreda and Rajesh Khanna winked at Laxmi(kant) and me and told Kishoreda that in that case we would scrap the song. And he immediately changed his mind!

“Rajesh had an unspoken bond with Laxmi and me. Even today, he sometimes calls up to recall the great times we had together and says, “Yaar humne kya kaam kiya hai!”. When we went on our first overseas concert tour in 1984, he came and danced to three songs. He was very particular about his music and would take a tape home if he could not assess a song. He would then give his feedback after a day or two. But if he liked a song at the sitting, he would loudly shout “Wah! Wah!” in appreciation. After he heard the mukhda of Mere dil mein aaj kya hai from Daag he stopped us from making him listen to the first antara and told Yash (Chopra)ji that it would be a hit!

“It was God’s blessing that we came up with such a vast range of hit songs for him, including in his home productions Roti, Aashiq Hoon Baharon Ka and Chakravyuha. Incidentally, he had a stake in Mehboob Ki Mehndi too. He had great interest in music and a terrific sense of melody too. His music is dominated by Pancham (R.D.Burman) and us and we accepted Shakti Samanta’s Anurodh only because Rajesh Khanna had had some misunderstanding with Pancham then and did not want to work with him.”
(As told to RV)


Meeting the first Super Star was exhilarating

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9, 2012 by manoharv2009
Meeting the first Super Star was exhilarating
India Herald contributor Gadfly (left) in this 1971 photo with India’s first ‘Super Star,’ Rajesh Khanna. Photo by Nimkar Photo Studio, Girgaum, Mumbai

Hindi filmdom’s first Super Star Rajesh Khanna who passed away on July 18 after repeated problems with blood-pressure and hyper-tension (reportedly from liver disease), charmed his way into our hearts with an unparalleled endearing smile that was missing till then despite the big three – Dilip, Raj and Dev and of course, Shammi Kapoor. The trio were like our older brothers.

Shammi was our funny buddy and a rebel. He was like our senior in college. Rajesh was us. He was our classmate, spoke our language in films, did things we wished we could and took our place in his films.

We lived through him vicariously. He set some trends of his own too. Dev Anand was the only film hero whose hair-style was imitated by thousands at the time. Rajesh created a craze for Kurta-Pajama. It became his trademark. His persona was such that youths from zopadpatti to the paanwalaa at the corner, from the young girls in poor areas to the sophisticates from Xaviers College to some college in Jhumritalaiya, from Bandra to Malabar Hill to Pali Hill, screamed for him. Some girls even cut their wrists in his name.

Today in Hindi films, as in life, we see English words mixed with Hindi in a sentence. Rajesh mixed them in one word as in Aradhana, when he asks Farida Jalal at the airport: “Then why are you rowing? (Instead of ‘Then why are you crying?)” He was the first hero to become one of us using the street-lingo. Add Kurta-Pajama and “Babu Moshai” and India’s first superstar was born. Ma Kasam!

Rajesh had cuteness, mannerisms, acting chops, charisma and an uncanny ease of dialogue delivery. I doubt if anyone even noticed that ease. Aside from his language mix, the kurta-pajama, his tilted head, he had his inimitable smile which is the only way we remember him. Despite being the first superstar, he had an affectionate name, Kaka.

None of the big three had that. Rajesh was ‘Kaka’ to his fans. Most of all, the camera loved him. He didn’t have the dancing chops of a Shammi. His biggest asset was his smile. He milked it and became the only actor, before or since, to deliver 15 consecutive solo super hits in his illustrious career.

Yet, what a difference two years make! When Anand (1971) came along, Rajesh was still a big star with huge hits like Aradhana behind him with Amitabh Bachchan rising. With Rajesh’s electric personality and charming smile endearing everyone he met or ran into, Anand was tailor-made for him. Not even Amitabh could have done that role. Fast forward to Namak Haram in 1973.

Loosely based on Hollywood’s Beckett, the film is a flashback beginning with Amitabh being released from jail and brought home by his girl-friend, Simi. In pre-production, Rajesh and Amitabh were arguing with Hrishikesh Mukherjee about Namak Haram’s ending wanting their character to die at the end, to create audience sympathy and boosting their respective careers. Rajesh, as we all know, won. It was a pyrrhic victory. Amitabh’s character took the false blame for Rajesh’s murder and went to jail.

Amitabh’s shouldering blame for Rajesh’s murder had a big impact on audiences, pushing Rajesh’s death in the background. Rajesh won the battle by dying in the film but lost the war for audience sympathy. Y/our calculations and life don’t always meet.

Rajesh Khanna was a finalist in the 1965 All India Talent Contest organized by United Producers and Filmfare, topping over 10,000 contestants. That led to his first film by Chetan Anand Akhri Khat. But it was Aradhana and the song Mere Sapno Ki Rani that put him over the top. Untouchable, unreachable until ‘more of the same’ set in. Even in one of his best acting roles in Amar Prem, the lines ‘Pushpa, I hate tears’ were nauseating.

Two things went against him. First was that he never tried to get out of his comfort zone to take risks and give up the ‘style-maarnaa’. After the success of Haathi Mere Saathi, Salim-Javed who were that movie’s writers, offered to change his image into an angry young man. Rajesh refused. That was Amitabh’s ticket to stardom.

They say ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ but that works for appliances and equipment. In acting, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ means ‘more of the same’ and that doesn’t work.

Meeting Rajesh Khanna was an exhilarating experience. It was like being possessed. You knew you were in a charmed presence without his saying a word and without a smile. I experienced it at a pre-release cast party for Anand (1971) by Cinegoers’ Club of which I was an active member. Rajesh was well-known for being late. Hrishida was already there. So were Ramesh Deo and Seema. Amitabh had a ‘scheduling conflict’. In the small hall (I forget the place now), as we waited, the club president, Shyam Kajaria, requested me to wait at the main entrance to keep an eye for Rajesh’s arrival. Now there is a small comedy here involving my lack of planning and forethought.

All my good clothes, including my suit, were at the dry cleaners – what we call laundry in India. I was in my trousers and a ‘colorful’ shirt.

I said, “Shyam, you guys are all in suits. I’m the only one in a pant and shirt and with the color of my shirt, I look like some worker handling lights in a studio. How about sending someone in a suit?”

Kajaria joked, “Arrey Bhai, Hum sub suit mein honge, lekin hamare paas tera handsome chehra nahin hai.” (Arrey brother, we all may be in suits, but we don’t have your handsome face.) I told him blackmail by flattery won’t work but if there is no one else, I’ll do it.”

He thanked me and off I rushed to the main door barely 30-seconds away. As luck would have it, just then, Rajesh walked in with his secretary. Taken by surprise, I stretched my hand and said, “Hello and welcome!” Rajesh stopped, stretched out his hand to shake mine, warmly thanked me and asked me my name.

When I told him, he addressed me by my name and thanked me again as we approached the hall. On the way, my friend Y.P. Shukla, in a suit, joined us. And here we are, in three disparate attires – me in a non-descript pant and shirt, Rajesh in his kurta ‘uniform’ and Shukla in a suit.

Before the function, one of the suited young guys had told me he went to the same college with Rajesh and the two were classmates but hadn’t met since. He wondered if Rajesh would remember and acknowledge him, now that he is a big star. The 1969 release of Aradhana had already made Rajesh a superstar. But as soon as Rajesh came across his Guju classmate, he recognized him instantly by name, saying, “How are you. It’s been a long time. It’s good to see you.”

I could see my Gujubhai was in seventh heaven. That was the personal Rajesh. He never forgot where he came from and perhaps that is why in every role he played he was able to convey that ‘one of us’ feeling. Yes, he had his moods, was often late. Fame does worse things to people. Rajesh (whose real first name was Jatin) was adopted by his rich relatives because his parents were very poor. He knew who his parents were but that adoption combined with his shyness perhaps resulted in a pensive loneliness we saw in his eyes when not smiling, as in the picture here.

Dev Anand’s acting in a double role (Hum Dono) was commendable. Dilip Kumar (Raam Aur Shyam) brought a distinct separateness. But Rajesh surprised us all in Sachaa Jhutha, with its song Yun Hi Tum Mujhse Baat Karti ho, a highlight. I was as huge a fan of Rajesh as anyone, just more discerning. So out of his 120 or so films, I have seen only 26. Such was his sudden fall because of ‘more of the same.’ I watch my DVDs of many of his films, when the mood strikes for a particular scene or song. But Amar Prem (his first aging on film) is one of my two favorite Rajesh films (barring that line ‘I hate tears’). The best? Undoubtedly, Ittefaq.

The media were surprised by the number of fans that thronged for Rajesh Khanna’s funeral and the outpouring of grief. I was not. The mere thought of Rajesh brings a smile to my face and to millions of his fans. — Send responses to