Rajesh Khanna

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.!!





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