Rajesh Khanna was the heartbeat of the nation

17207_364997726940180_2085703691_n - Copy - Copy (15) - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy - CopyJul 18, 2012 By Ayaz Memon For those of you who have grown up the late sixties and seventies, Rajesh Khanna’s death takes away a big and a very important chunk of our lives because he just kind of haunted our generation. While it is always said that he was the first superstar, you have to understand what he really meant the people specially fans. I haven’t seen the craze like I saw for him ever. Screen grab from CNN IBN. There have been bigger stars, bigger actors before and after him. Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand — the trios of the 50s and the early sixties… nobody has been bigger than Dilip Kumar as an actor and for sheer length of time, there is nobody to beat Amitabh Bachachan. The craze now we see for Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan, but for a short spell of a time between 1968 and 1973, Rajesh Khanna, kind of, overwhelmed everyone. It is difficult to say what really triggered off that kind of mania for Rajesh Khanna. Was it just a fresh approach? Was it just the waning of earlier superstars and the other guys who could kind make it to the top like Sunil Dutt, Dharmendra, Manoj Kumar. They all lived in the shadow of Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand. Rajesh Khanna was the first guy who actually measured up the popularity or exceeded that of any one. There were story of girls marrying his photographs or when he got married to Dimple Kapadia, some of them slashing their wrists and it didn’t seem as far stretched. When I was in school, in the 10th and 11th standard every girl in our class was a Rajesh Khanna fan. There would be all this battle between Dilip Kumar die-hard loyalist like me and Rajesh Khanna loyalists like the girls. To really encapsulte what Rajesh Khanna wave meant I will give you an example and its no exageration at all. I remember going to see a rerun of Phool aur Phathar the Dharmendra-Meena Kumari classic at Alankar theatre in Mumbai. Post the interval there was a trailer of a Rajesh Khanna movie Aan Milo Sajana. And the minute he came on in the song Accha Toh Hum Chalte Hai , the entire audience went into raptures. People were hurling money at the screen. Then, there was the movie Dhushman which released in the twin theaters, Ganga and Jamuna. These were the theaters that came into being with that movie. Both the theater showed the same movie, those were the single screen days. And both theaters were houseful for an entire week. That was craze Rajesh Khanna had, unprecedented. Nobody else I think has enjoyed that kind of a craze in the Indian film industry. And not that he was a terrific actor. He had terrific performances only when he had good directors like Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Bhattacharya perhaps a Shakti Samanta otherwise he could be quite a pedestrian. But there was a wave, a tsunami wave. The Rajesh Khanna era. There was whole syndrome that came along with it. RD Burman as a music director, Kishore Kumar’s second coming so to speak with Aradhana. The songs that Kishore Kumar sang for Rajesh Khanna, composed by RD Burman, were the beat of the nation much like Rajesh Khanna being the heart beat of the nation. He had his favourite female co-stars and he made some winning combinations. Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz were his favourites. And just as suddenly the Rajesh Khanna wave disappeared. It just kind of waned. Its difficult to explain why. He was not a method actor or a studied actor or somebody who took too much attention to reaching great histrionic levels. When he had a terrific director to guide him along, he put up some terrific performances. Anand, Namak Haram, Bawarchi these are all Hrishikesh Mukherjee films. Some of them were pretty melodramatic but he made a big impact. Amar Prem with Shakti Samanta. Ittefaq was one of his earliest big hits with Yash Chopra – a song less film were he played a escaped convict. The are lot of stories about he found it difficult to handle his super stardom. He lived the life of a spoilt rockstar. His marriage to Dimpla Kapadia, which broke millions of hearts of women in India, didn’t last too long. And suddenly, you found Rajesh Khanna, who was pretty much the pre-eminent number one star by far in the Indian film industry, had almost vanished from the screen. He lived in his small private world of his own which may or may not have been a happy world. Sitting from outside one really doesn’t know. But he just couldn’t make the comeback one expected. Especially now one feels that Bollywood having become so big for the last 10-15 years, almost every actor who you could think off had a second or a third chance. Whether it is films or television. But Rajesh Khanna somehow just couldn’t make that come back and that is one of the sad parts of the life. He enjoyed that kind of superstardom or probably didn’t enjoy. He became a non-entity of sorts. But what will remain forever in my mind certainly, and in everybody’s elses mind who grew up in that generation, is that we all witnessed this tidal wave, this phenomenon as he was called Rajesh Khanna. I think he was once in a lifetime occurrence. If you ask me to define is career as well as his life, I would define it by those two stanzas of his famous songs. One is from the film Andaz, were he plays a guest role motor-cycling down Marine Lines. The stanza is – Zindgai ek safar hai suhana, yaha kal kya ho kisne jana. And other one is from the film Safar – Zindagi ka safar, hai yeh kaisa safar. And everything else that comes in between.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/rajesh-khanna-was-the-heartbeat-of-the-nation-382012.html?utm_source=ref_article

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